Monday, February 28, 2011

Chamberlain Creek 2

Amidst the wider turmoil of the Christchurch earthquake we escaped to the hills. Clare was up from Christchurch for a breather and an adventure while Caspar was after a good mission before Nadspar 1 enters the world. Chamberlain creek fortunately is a place where many purposes can be realised.

This trip was a sequel for me after Penny and I ventured down last summer, but sequels aren't always flops. One of the greatest pleasures of the outdoors is showing other people places you love.

We walked in on Saturday evening to Herepai hut discussing the earthquake, and life and software development strategies. Being Agile seemed to become a theme for the weekend, retrospectively this was quite appropriate for our incremental iteration.

Ruapae and East Peak can be hard work in the wrong weather conditions, but on Sunday morning it was peaceful, wisps of cloud rose around us rather than being pushed. We angled into Chamberlain creek on the spur SW from East Peak missing the worst of the bush bash. Kitting up in the sun before entering the creek it didn't take us long to reach the first waterfall.

The first waterfall commits you to the task at hand, especially once the rope is pulled. It is quickly followed by a smaller waterfall and then a section of rough travel down to the tightest part of the creek a curvaceous stepped waterfall requiring the full 25 metres of doubled rope. The sides of the canyon jut out angularly creating almost a corkscrew effect as you descend into a dark pool.

This really is the crux of the canyon, what follows is fun bouldery travel with several compulsory swims and two jumps of note (which can easily be abseiled). You become quick at committing yourself to the plunge.

And you become eager to see what lies over the next horizon line.

The final jump is an appropriately climactic conclusion. You round a corner, see the Ruamahunga river appear over a sharp grassy spur and the river falls away at your feet. You couldn't hope for a better take-off spot or pool, but the height still gives some concern. A very majestic spot.

After Chamberlain Creek there is still a couple of kilometres of gorge on the Ruamahunga which would quickly become dangerous in high water. We pack floated out through deep still pools skirting some lovely looking tubing rapids. The common option is to follow the river down to Roaring Stag lodge but we cut off the corner, heading directly east to the track via a lovely open spur (within cooee of the lakelet, and Ruapae stream. A great summer day trip for fit and experienced parties.