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South Island 7a Young Wilkin - Crucible Lake
by past my sell by date » Thu Jan 21, 2021 6:15 pm
Date walked: 26/12/20052 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
The track climbs the Young valley to the 1501m Gillespie pass and descends the Siberia valley to the Wilkin river, but the start involves a major river crossing maybe half a km wide . The instructions (today) say that the route requires experience in river crossings, and to folllow the yellow markers crossing the Makarora river where the Young river joins it. If the water level is too high you need to make a roughly 10km detour to cross at Blue river -
Here are some pictures of the area
At the end of Lake Wanaka
I had done river crossings with Steve and Tam at Arthur's Pass, but this was Donna and my first solo tramp in serious back country and without anyone more experienced with us, we were a bit reluctant - I don't think there were any yellow markers in 2005!- There was also an alternative
The Makarora jetboat will whisk you up ( and later back down ) the Wilkin river to Kevin Forks at the bottom of the Siberia track whence it is an easy one hours walk up to The flat floor of the valley and Siberia hut
Makarora jet boats( library photos)
And indeed once up in the valley you can also fly in or out on this little plane
I think a lot of day tourists fly in, walk down the broad easy track to the Wilkin and jetboat out
So we decided to Jetboat in, stay four nights at Siberia hut and jetboat back out again
Siberia hut (630m)- it burned down in 2014 but has since been replaced
The farmer who was allotted this area must have been a John Bunyan fan - or more likely a manic depressive: For as well as naming it the Siberia valley, he also called the two most prominent mountains Mount Awful and Mount Dreadful
There is a story - almost certainly apocryphal - that a climber asked his guide to take him from one to the other so that he could say he'd done the "awful dreadful traverse"
Being a holiday, there were several people at the hut, including a large Italian with an immense sack that included several changes of clothes and enough "trailmix" to last most people a month
During the night he snored mightily, but instead of prodding him - the usual remedy - the other occupants gathered up their mattresses one by one and crept out into the living room - like Haydn's Farewell symphony
However when Donna Joined the exodus she accidentally shone our torch in his eyes and woke him - whereupon he went back to sleep without snoring again all night. In the morning he was very apologetic
As well as Gillespie pass, there is a highly recommended side walk to Crucible Lake ( 1172m) below the highest nearby peak 2360m Mount Alba. The weather looking clear and settled, we decided to do this next day.
Map of the Siberia valley
The route heads North West up the flat floor of the valley, crosses the river (not a major challenge) and heads L up a side track.
Looking up the valley towards Mount Dreadful
The Siberia stream
And crossing it
The stream descending from Crucible lake: the track starts on this side but crosses higher up
There are fine waterfalls on the stream
Views of the stream - we simply waded across somewhere here, as our boots were already wet
higher - on the other side
The forest thins and Mount Alba 2360m - appears at the back
A wider view: near the forest margin a lot of white flowered Mountain Ribbonwood grows
Looking up the valley above the forest: the lake is behind the moraine R of centre - where the stream comes down
Mountain Cottonwood - cassinia
A kea - they are always around
As ever there were lots of flowers:-
White and hybrid Marguerites
L Gentians..... R Eyebright
L.. white or cream Carrot ..... R.. Woollyheads
I thought this was an orchid of some kind, but it turns out to be the rare native forgetmenot Myosotis macrantha - though it took a whole team of eminent NZ botanists to identify it
Crucible Lake and its setting are dramatic and impressive, but difficult to phtograph as you are so close to it. I was still using film and didn't have the panorama feature than is universal on even quite modest digitals.
These are the photos:-
As it was early summer there was still as lot of surface ice, and on it a lot of rubble including some quite large stones resulting from the spring melt. These clearly end up on the lake floor and as this presumably happens every year , I wondered how long it will be before it fills. I couldn't find any info about its depth.
This is a library photo taken when all the ice had gone - The sides look to be sloping steeply down - suggesting that it's quite deep
From the moraine looking back down the valley
We returned the same way to the hut .
by Sgurr » Thu Jan 21, 2021 8:41 pm
by RobW » Thu Jan 21, 2021 11:20 pm
Wading streams seems normal for the kiwis. I recall us wearing trail shoes for the 60-ish crossing on the walk in to Tappy (can't spelli it); met with a certain disdain I think Their info for the peaks is notoriously understated as we found to our cost. Tough folk.
Agree with Sgurr, it would be good to get back there.
by RobW » Thu Jan 21, 2021 11:27 pm
by past my sell by date » Fri Jan 22, 2021 12:04 am
RobW wrote:PS how do you do place 2 photos side by side?
I drag them on to a larger blank in photoshop and resize. As WH only allows 40 pics I find it essential
by Anne C » Sat Jan 23, 2021 6:33 pm
by past my sell by date » Mon Jan 25, 2021 7:05 pm
On the "Great" walks the streams are alll bridged but the bridges have to be lifted out in winter- as in some places in the European Alps
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