Can’t Cross That (Part Three) – Long Charlie Spur(2024m)

“On a Mish” #56 Can’t Cross That (Part Three). Long Charlie Spur(2024m). Whakaari / Richardson Mountains. Mt Aspiring National Park. 21.1.2014. Mountains plus rain equals rivers, and in Aotearoa / New Zealand’s wild backyard the rivers are in charge. Sadly, drowning is a far too common occurrence in this country of stunning wilderness, and it is because of this that I am extremely careful when dealing with river crossings which don’t have the aid of a bridge. Getting swept away by an angry river would be disastrous, especially if you are on a solo mish…

After taking in some water from a bottle and not water falling from the sky I began to move again towards my target of the first peak on Long Charlie Spur. The final scramble up the west ridge was on the notorious loose scree which is a common occurrence in this part of the world. After a mini battle with Otago Schist which in places involved two steps forward, one step back, I got on to better ground and then finally made it to the summit.

This has got to be one of my best plan B’s to date! Across the valley Pikirakatahi / Mt Earnslaw(2830m) dominated all the mountains around it. I was standing on a big peak and Earnslaw was still another 800 metres or so higher. The mountain is true king of the Rees Valley and the view was outstanding. Along with Mt Earnslaw another mountain was attention grabbing. Tititea / Mt Aspiring was living up to both its Maori name (Glisinning one), and also its European name as well. It was hard to drag myself away from the top but what goes up must of course go down, so I slowly began my journey back to the valley floor.

After descending the same way for a while I turned right and made my way back down via the northern slopes into Twenty Five Mile Creek for variety. I was tired by the time I got back to my little orange tent, so the afternoon / evening was spent chilling at my camp looking up at the Forbes Range. I needed to be back in Aoraki/Mt Cook Village the next day so an early-ish start was going to be needed.

I was up the next morning at first light and after packing up my camping gear I was on my way down the valley back in the direction of the Muddy Creek car park. I’m guessing that because everything on this mish had gone so well without any drama, the adventure had to have one last twist of turmoil.

With only twenty metres of mission left I crossed Muddy Creek and began to think about getting a pie in Glenorchy. The creek was living up to its name and was bubbling brown and still flowing above normal. A little more care than normal was needed when crossing. Just before I got to the other side, I glanced down at my feet like I had done a hundred times before then, and to my surprise my sunglasses fell off the top of my hat into the dirty flow. In shock I cursed as I watched them quickly float away and then disappear under the water. Due to me still being in the middle of crossing had to get to the other side and dropped off my pack before I could even think about doing anything else.

I stood listening to the river and pondered about the fate of my sunglasses for about a minute and then I decided to have a quick look to see if there was any sign of my swept away sunnies. To my surprise I found them about 15 metres down the creek snagged on a branch stuck behind a rock! I’m guessing this was my reward for putting up with the rain on day one!

So once again I had set out to climb Pikirakatahi / Mt Earnslaw, and once again I had been stopped by Mother Nature. But I’d much rather think of a plan b than finish my outdoor life in the bubbling mass of a swollen river!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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