Day - Sunday 5 October 2014
A nice spring day with some cloud cover but no rain saw a fiftteen strong contingent front up for a fairly demanding day tramping mainly on hilly uneven ground followed by rock hopping and rock climbing.
Old Baldy always presents a bit of a challenge as the way to the top is often strewn with debris and can easily set even the most experienced of leaders heading off in the wrong direction.
Our group comprised eleven members and four non members.
A show of hands before we started revealed that only about a third of our complement had been up Old Baldy before.
Starting from the Lone Kauri Road carpark we first made our way up then down Buck Taylor track to a point where we then struck out to find Old Baldy.Old Baldy is a 223 metre rock that stands guard at the seaward end of the Pararaha Stream.Access is quite steep in parts,however,there are enough strategically placed branches and undergrowth to hold onto for most of the way.
We did need to backtrack at one point after realising we had drifted too far off the correct line, however, in due course we all made it safely to the top of the Rock and be greeted by magnificent views in all directions. West and south taking in the full sweep of the Tasman Sea and coastal swamplands, eastward up the Pararaha Valley and northward back towards the steep bush covered ground we had made our way through to get to where we now were.
After fifteen minutes here taking in the views we made our way back down to the saddle before dropping down the southwestern side of the rock. Very steep in parts but again with enough branches and undergrowth to check our descent which at times necessitated a bit of seat of the pants navigation.We eventually reached the northern side of the Pararaha stream and followed on the bank upstream until we were able to rock hop our way across to intersect with the Pararaha Valley track.From there along the track for our lunch stop at the Les Ward Shelter.
From the shelter we got a full on view of Old Baldy from the stream base looking back up to where we had just descended from.Quite impressive !
After lunch we slowly navigated our way up the Pararaha stream.For those that wanted I challenged them to go the full distance without getting wet socks. After all anyone can just plough their way through the water but it takes a bit of skill to criss-cross the stream rock hopping at the right places to keep dry socks !
Those who have done the stream before will be familiar with the various sections where we have to climb up the valley walls, work our way along a few exposed ledges, climb over a logjam, and climbing up a waterfall.
All good challenging stuff !
All the time making sure we cross the stream at the right places so as to not end up against impassable steep sections.
Past Walker and Cowan streams both off to the right of Pararaha Stream.
Then when nearing the end making sure we crossed the stream four times in quick succession before making our way back up Odlin Timber tracks 356 steps to Lone Kauri Road.
All acquitted themselves well on what was a quite challenging day with a difference.
Thanks to John for the bus driving and to all who can now add ‘Old Baldy’ to their tramping CV !
Leader and scribe - Ian W Morris