There is an old (mining stopped there back in the 1930s) gold mine site up the Snowy River Road near Ikamatua (well, there are a few but one was our focus yesterday). It is on the list to be cleaned up and I am tasked with doing a bit of planning for that so the Governance Group can make some decisions about it.
We were meant to do this walk back in April but had to re-schedule because I went home early when David's mum started going downhill. But yesterday was a stunning day to do it - it was blo*dy cold when we set off (3 deg C) from the DOC office in Greymouth and I am sure it was colder when I left Hokitika an hour earlier than that in the dark- I'd had to throw a couple of kettles of water over the windscreen and side windows to remove the frost.
Getting to the mine (ex-mine) is an hour's drive from Greymouth into the hills through farm land and then into beech forest on a single lane gravel road. Once above the bushline we had to stop a few times to move fallen branches off the road. Jim and Dean did the first three and I said I'd help with the next - of course that one was more of a tree trunk about 8 inches in diameter! Fortunately it was rotten so broke up easily and I didn't have to get back in the van without having helped move it. That would have severely dented my pride!
|Mountains on the drive from Greymouth to Ikamatua|
|Frosty scene as we drove up the Snowy River Road - just before we got to the bushline|
Jim is the fundi about the historic features around this area - he is a historic ranger at DOC and has been the driving force for getting some of the sites cleaned up, as well as being instrumental in a whole heap of restoration projects as a volunteer. I posted about him here back in February
John is the Engineer to Contract in the Waiuta Remediation Project that I am currently working on and Dean is its Primary Contractor. (Dean and I turn out to have previously been related through my former marriage to Dean's mum's second cousin - I remember going to his mum and dad's wedding, and I also seem to remember dandling Dean on my knee when he was a little baby... Spooky, eh?)
|John returning from having a pee. Note that he peed quite a distance away from his pack ... He's the youngest of the four of us and wore shorts for the trek.|
|Dean setting up the GPS - I thought it was an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) so we could be found if we got lost.|
Once we had parked and got kitted out - me with boots and puttees, (merino) long johns and shorts over them (such a cool look) and thermal top, sweatshirt and fleecy, plus silk scarf (OK OK I know silk may not be standard bushwear, but it is light and very warm) - Jim did our JSA. That's the Job Safety Assessment where he briefed us on the hazards and how to avoid them, what to be careful of. It was blo*dy cold, as I say, particularly when standing still in the shade ... Then off we went, heading for the river so we could cross it a few times - well, why not?
|That white stuff isn't blossom - it's ice! And you can see the frost on the ground too.|
|Jim and John. Jim has a proper gnarly stick, John is using one of mine that he confiscated as I was finding two sticks were more of a hindrance than a help.|
|Just another mountain in the background - one of the lower ones|
|I rather liked the patterns on this rock - plant life|
And I wouldn't have been able to cope crossing the rivers with fast-ish moving water and rocks underfoot. But John suggested at the first crossing that he and Dean should link arms with me and help me across. That was modified to holding hands and it worked an absolute treat. One of the dis-benefits (I know, crap made-up word, but it's in use in projects for some reason) of getting older is the loss of surefootedness/balance on uneven surfaces. I used to leap about rocks and muddy slippery places up at the bach in Taranaki - but over recent years I have become so much less good at that. Without the guys either side of me yesterday I would have been sitting down in freezing cold water on numerous occasions, I know for sure.
(I am really lucky to be working with such a great project team - great guys everyone of them, and each with their own strengths to bring to the work. Besides which they are kind and helpful - that was borne out yesterday in spades.)
|The first river crossing - Jim went first to check out the depth. This is where the young guys decided to help the old woman across each time - good call, I say! What a fabulous team I have working with me!|
|Beech forest with minimal undergrowth - very different from Taranaki bush, that's for sure.|
|Jim, not quite in my shadow ...|
|At the battery site in the lovely warm sunshine. That is a warning sign you can see notifying people that the area is contaminated.|
|Some kind of moss stuff growing in the middle of the old road - Jim will tell me what is really is.|
|I liked the look of these feathery seedlings ... (and he'll tell me what they are)|
|and of these red berries (and he'll identify these too)|
It was damn cold standing around waiting for the water samplers to come back, so we took the first opportunity to head back to the battery site to stand in the sun and warm up. Gosh, the sun felt lovely on our faces.
Then back we headed the way we came in. Seemed quicker going back than the trip in somehow, but that always seems to be the way, in my experience.
It was definitely getting colder even though it was only about 2.30. John and Jim changed clothes but Dean had left his change of socks in his car at Stillwater, and I had left my entire change of clothes in the car at DOC's office in Greymouth - doh!! So while John and Jim changed I took photos ...
|John getting his jeans on - brave man as he was barefooted in this photo and the ground was pretty chilly.|
|Jim wringing out his socks|
On arrival at Greymouth I really couldn't be arsed changing my clothes so I drove back to Hokitika still feeling warm and with sloshing boots.
|On my drive back from Greymouth I had to stop near the Blue Spur Road and take photos of the mountains.|
|I tell you, the West Coast is NZ's best kept secret - a stunningly beautiful area that I reckon overseas tourists know more about than we do as NZers.|
|Wet boots, puttees and longjohns - sitting outside the motel room|
|Puddle #1 from one wrung out sock|
|Puddle #2 from second wrung out sock and a pair of now chilly feet exposed to the air.|
Then it was into the shower and off out for dinner with Katrina and June - plenty of wine and chicken tikka marsala. Then back to the motel and into bed for an early night for some reason.
Not going to be long out of bed tonight either - all the excitement is catching up with me! The motel unit looks like a laundry - socks, longjohns, shorts all drying around the place. Most importantly, my boots are drying upside down on my walking sticks above the wall heater - chilly night means heater stays on - I am getting old and soft!