Monday, August 10, 2009

2009. Packhorse Track and Mount Bradley Summit, Banks Peninsula

2009. Top of Gebbies Pass view of Mount Bradley, Banks Peninsula

I drove up Dyers Pass and along Summit Road in the Port Hills, while morning fog rolled westwards from Lyttelton Harbour over Sign of the Bellbird. Late winter high pressure systems left Christchurch under smog, leaving Leah wheezy and me with weepy eyes and rhinitis.

We didn't have those respiratory ailments before settling in Christchurch. In winter whenever I climbed or drove up Port Hills, I saw chimney smoke and fires on Canterbury Plains together with vehicle exhaust fumes pluming into a toxic haze over Canterbury Plains as far as the Southern Alps.

2009. Top of Gebbies Pass view

I parked my car at the top of windy Gebbies Pass as I wanted to walk Packhorse Track to Packhorse Hut on the saddle below Mount Bradley, then climb to the top of Mount Bradley (855m). By Gebbies Pass, four signs hung on a dirt track gate:

2009. Wind Turbine Sign, Gebbies Pass, Banks Peninsula



2009. Cyanide Poison Sign, Possum Control, Gebbies Pass, Banks Peninsula


4. MOUNT HERBERT WALKWAY... CLOSED FOR LAMBING between 1st Aug and 16th Oct...

2009. DOC Walkway Closed For Lambing Sign, Gebbies Pass, Banks Peninsula

2009. Road to Radio Mast, Packhorse Track, Gebbies Pass

The 4th, a Department Of Conservation (DOC) sign, was ambiguous and confusing, as Packhorse Track, Packhorse Hut and Mount Bradley were a long way before Mount Herbert (920m). A week before, I'd seen an identical, ambiguous, DOC sign at the Kaituna Valley Carpark.

I crossed a stile and walked the dirt track towards a radio mast with Mount Bradley in the distance on my left and glimpses of the wind turbine behind a hill on my right.

2009. Packhorse Track view of Mount Bradley

2009. Packhorse Track view of Pine Forest near Gebbies Pass

Packhorse Track was well marked with small direction signs on fences and poles. At a pine shelterbelt, I crossed another stile into pine trees, Pinus radiata, and was relieved to get out of Gebbies Pass wind.

After crossing a ridge and going along the edge of the forest a bit, Packhorse Track went up another ridge. Along the way I saw Port Hills silhouetted by the morning sun. Looking back I saw the radio mast and whirling wind turbine by Gebbies Pass.

2009. Packhorse Track, Gebbies Pass view of Port Hills

2009. Packhorse Track, Gebbies Pass view of Port Hills

2009. Packhorse Track view of Gebbies Pass area & Port Hills. Wind Turbine on skyline left

In the windy valley between ridges I had glorious views of Lyttelton Harbour and Coopers Knobs in the Port Hills. Beyond prickly gorse in a paddock I crossed another stile into the pine forest again, and continued climbing ridges in the pine forest for another hour.

In the forest I passed through a patch of Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii, and passed several <- GEBBIES PASS / PACKHORSE -> direction signs.

2009. Direction Signs, Packhorse Track

2009, Waiake Forestry, Packhorse Track

In a firebreak I saw a jet vapour-trail in the blue above. I passed a WAIAKE FOREST LTD sign and a foresters' hut by a pond, surrounded by native bush plantings. Near the hut by the pond boardwalk, I found a temperature, rain gauge and wind chill apparatus on a pole for foresters' entertainment. A gate sign stated:


2009. Foresters Hut & Pond, Packhorse Track

2009. Rain Gauge, Temperature & Wind Chill Apparatus, Foresters Hut, Packhorse Track

2009. McQueens Forestry Sign, Packhorse Track

2009. Packhorse Track Forest view of Lyttelton Harbour & Port Hills

2009. Packhorse Track Forest view of distant Port Hills

I had Packhorse Track to myself, but saw horse hoofprints and MTB tracks in the mud. Along the way, I had glimpses of Mount Bradley ahead and glimpses of Port Hills peaks through pines on my left: Mount Vernon, Witch Hill, Mount Cavendish with the gondola station on top...

After zigzagging through pines up the side of the steepest ridge, I crossed a stile and left the pine forest. On a pine trunk by the stile another sign stated: WARNING POISON. POTASSIUM CYANIDE...

2009. Cyanide Poison Sign, Packhorse Track

As I'd seen so many bright, plastic poison dispensers and poison warning signs on fences, gates and trees during my walks, I wondered why academics and conservationists at DOC, Lincoln University and University of Canterbury weren't producing biological controls for vermin?

And why were DOC conservationists, farmers and foresters allowed by the government and legal establishment to pollute the environment with poisons and plastic?

No way would I ever wash my face or hands in toxic streams or ponds I passed. I wondered how much cyanide and 1080 and cholecalciferal and gorse spray residues were trickling down streams to the Pacific?

The argument that gorse was a protective nursery plant for native seedlings was hogwash, as I couldn't see how gorse infestation on Mount Bradley could possibly protect grass and grass seedlings?

2009. Packhorse Track view of Lyttelton Harbour & Port Hills

Beyond the pine forest, Packhorse Track climbed the side of the ridge through tussock grassland to Packhorse Hut. On my left, I had great views of Lyttelton harbour, Port Hills' tuatara back, smoggy Canterbury Plains and snowy Southern Alps floating above the smog.

2009. Remarkable Dykes, Packhorse Track below Packhorse Hut

I passed Remarkable Dykes, two parallel walls of trachyte going down the ridge side and crossing Packhorse Track. Remarkable Dykes were about 20m apart with native bush and a rocky stream between. Near Packhorse Hut I passed an unambiguous sign on a pole:


2009. Packhorse Track below Packhorse Hut view of Mount Bradley

2009. Lambing Season Sign, Packhorse Track near Packhorse Hut

2009. Packhorse Hut window view of Lyttelton Harbour & Port Hills

2009. Direction Signs near Packhorse Hut

That unambiguous aluminium sign should also have been on Gebbies Pass. It had taken me 2.5 hours to cross several ridges and the pine forest to vacant Packhorse Hut below Mount Bradley, where I had a quick lunch of buns and CocaCola. I texted Leah before trekking up Mount Bradley.

2009. Southern Ridges to climb before Mount Bradley Summit

2009. Lancewood Gully & Bluffs to climb below Mount Bradley Summit

2009. Lancewoods below Mount Bradley, view of Kaituna Valley & Pacific

I walked north-eastwards beyond Packhorse Hut through tussock grassland below Mount Bradley, with Kaituna Valley on my right. By a palisade of lancewoods I crossed a stile, then walked through two bushy gullies. In one of the gullies I saw two feral sheep with long fleeces, which hadn't been sheared for years. No other sheep were in sight.

2009. Ridge Track below Mount Bradley, view of Kaituna Valley, Lake Ellesmere, Pacific

2009. Mount Bradley southern ridges view of Gebbies Pass, Lake Ellesmere, Canterbury Plains, Southern Alps

2009. Mount Bradley ridge view of Gebbies Pass, Lake Ellesmere, Canterbury Plains, Southern Alps

2009. Mount Bradley ridge view of Gebbies Pass, Lake Ellesmere, Canterbury Plains

2009. Mount Bradley south ridge view of Kaituna Valley, Lake Ellesmere, Pacific

2009. Some southern Bluffs below Mount Bradley Summit

I climbed a huge zigzag up the side of a grassy ridge to bluffs below Mount Bradley summit. I was aiming for a pyramid mound on top of Mount Bradley. The stony track continued as small, steep zigzags through bluffs, then went below an unbroken cliff towards Mount Herbert.

I passed prickly bush-lawyers and flax by trickling streams, and pushed through spiky, overgrown gorse along the stony track, with steep ridges and gullies dropping on my right to Kaituna Valley. At a break in the cliffs, by a summit slope on my left, an aluminium sign on a pole stated:


2009. Direction Signs, southern track below Mount Bradley Summit

Leaving the main track, I climbed a grassy path infested with gorse to Mount Bradley's stony summit. Below was the pyramid shaped mound at the western end of Mount Bradley. Eastwards a huge mound rose still higher to the 855m top of Mount Bradley, wherever that was in summit gorse?

2009. Mount Bradley Summit view of Lyttelton Harbour, Port Hills, Canterbury Plains, Southern Alps

2009. Mount Bradley Summit view of Lyttelton Harbour, Port Hills, Canterbury Plains, Southern Alps

2009. Mount Bradley Summit view of Port Hills, Canterbury Plains, Southern Alps

2009. Mount Bradley Summit view of Gebbies Pass, Lake Ellesmere, Canterbury Plains, Southern Alps

2009. Mount Bradley Summit view of Lake Ellesmere, Kaitorete Spit, Pacific

2009. Mount Bradley Summit view of Kaituna Valley & Pacific

2009. Mount Bradley Summit view of Kaituna valley & Banks Peninsular Peaks

2009. Mount Bradley Summit view of Kaituna Valley Head & Banks Peninsula Peaks

I sat on rocks enjoying the cool wind, while quaffing CocaCola and admiring views of Lyttelton Harbour, Port Hills, smoggy Canterbury Plains and distant snowy Alps. Westwards I saw Lake Ellesmere, Kaitorete Spit and the Pacific. South-eastwards I saw the head of Kaituna Valley, Banks Peninsula peaks and the Pacific.

2009. Mount Bradley southern abyss & eastern view to Mount Herbert & Banks Peninsula

2009. Lancewood Gully near Packhorse Hut, Mount Bradley,

I texted Leah from Mount Bradley summit. On my way down, two male joggers wearing day packs went past.

2009. Packhorse Hut in Mt Bradley Saddle, view of Canterbury Plains & Southern Alps

2009. Packhorse Hut, Mt Bradley Saddle

Back at Packhorse Hut I texted Leah again, signed the DOC Visitors Book giving my route and comment. In the book I saw that the joggers were airways employees, exalting in Mount Bradley's fresh air, away from confined aircraft. They were the only people I saw on Mount Bradley that day.

2009. Packhorse Track wintry western view of Lyttelton Harbour & Port Hills

Back at Gebbies Pass, timing of my 7 hour trek up Mount Bradley:

* Gebbies Pass to Packhorse Hut - 2.5 hours.
* Packhorse Hut to Mount Bradley summit and return to Packhorse Hut - 2.5 hours.
* Packhorse Hut to Gebbies Pass - 2 hours.

2009. Gebbies Pass eastern view of Mount Bradley

2009. Gebbies Pass north-western view of Lyttelton Harbour & Port Hills

Timing of my 7 hour trek included coolpix and rest stops, but excluded relaxing and scoffing in Packhorse Hut and enjoying views.

Hill walking fitness required. Rockfall hazards from Mount Bradley bluffs.

2009. Mount Bradley Summit view of Lyttelton Harbour, Port Hills, Canterbury Plains, Southern Alps

Coda: Sitting on top of Mt Bradley admiring Lyttelton Harbour, Port Hills, Canterbury Plains & Southern Alps views, it was impossible to predict that in 2010-2011 the earth would convulse in a series of quakes, devastating Lyttelton, Christchurch & nearby towns like Darfield, Hororata, Kaiapoi.

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.


Mark JS Esslemont said...

My comment on a post in "I Luv SA" blog where a poster flamed readers for their "total ignorance" about Transkei land tenure and Transkei history:

@... Dumb case of total ignorance, denial and wearing of rose tinted glasses.

Being a Natalian,I lived in the Eastern Cape for years and travelled through Transkei many times during the 80s and early 90s. Soil erosion was appalling and many homeland farm schemes in Transkei / Ciskei turned to crap due to murders, theft and resistance from Xhosa, despite the best intentions of white developers who tried to make a difference, putting their lives and the lives of their families at risk, living and working amongst Xhosa. Not to mention big bucks made by white industrialists using cheap Xhosa labour e.g. OTH Beier. Or Sol Kerzner with his corrupt casinos.

Black pigs, cattle and poultry dangerously wandered across the N2, polluted with plastic bags and other junk. I saw wooden sleds pulled by bullocks, wheeled carts were ignored. Unhygienic, primitive circumcision schools were held in the bush, and Xhosa women smelling of wood smoke sat around wearing beads, blankets, turbans, and smoking long handled pipes.

I found Eastern Cape people especially East London whiteys the biggest hypocrites I've ever met. I experienced an APLA bomb blast in EL's Oxford Street municipal building, which wasn't even mentioned in the Daily Dispatch.

Ex president Thabo Mbeki and his dad Govan came from Idutwa district, and what a mess they and their commie racist ANC made of SA. You ignore the lowered standards of education in the Eastern Cape since 1994. You ignore the mess made of state hospitals e.g. Frere Hospital in East London by ANC misrule. My brother, before his troopie conscription, did volunteer work at Holy Cross Mission Hospital in 1973.

You ignore the depredations of cattle theft on whitey "Border" farmers, the many whites / Xhosa killed in the Eastern Cape during APLA's and Holomisa's time e.g. King Williams Town Golf Club massacre (a friend got blown up); Highgate Hotel massacre (close to my home); Mdantsane Bahai Church massacre (my son's friend's Iranian father murdered); SADF Umtata retaliatory raids; to mention a few...

Your history ignorance: You ignore the civilizing influence and benefits the Trek Boers and later 1820 British Settlers gave to the Eastern Cape, the German Settler influence and benefits, the Great Trekking Boers hating the Brits and Xhosa and their thieving connivance. You must ask why there were 100 years of 9 Kaffir / Frontier Wars in the first place?
Read Noel Mostert's "Frontiers..." Many cattle thieving Xhosa and Brit soldiers fought and died in those wars, and some became famous too e.g. Sir Harry Smith.

Mark JS Esslemont said...

My response to a poster on "I Luv SA" blog who touted a post-apartheid Afrikaner homeland on prime KwaZulu-Natal farmland from the Drakensberg (including Winterton and Drakensberg water sources) to Durban, a la old KZN Boer Republics Vryheid and Natalia, long after those Boer Republics had vanished:

@... Dream on! Your pathetic "common sense" is laughable.

Trekkers left Natal after Zulus massacred them at Weenen and fled their risible Natalia Republic when Zulus and Brits made it too hot for them. Nothing like Zulu assegais or Scottish Highlander bayonets up Boers' arses to make Boers flee eh?

So now, on that flimsy base, you think snivelling latter day Boers and Afrikaner poor whites earned the right to post-apartheid steal prime Natal farmland and re-settle Natal with Afrikaners.

Did Boere fight and die at Rorkes Drift during the Zulu War? They crowed for decades over their massacre of Zulus at Blood River, even arrogantly proclaimed a SA public holiday: Day of the Covenant.

White, I was born and bred in Durban and lived / worked there for over 30 years during apartheid. What's your Natal work input besides history reading and Berg climbing? I think little.

During apartheid, many Natal Afrikaners I knew did everything they could to subvert Natal English culture e.g. mawkish Boer War treur and resentment against English decades after the Boer War; SATV and SABC brainwashing; insidious Broederbond; touting kultuur and Afrikaans ad nauseum; home detentions of university lecturers and parish priests; separate schools, teacher training colleges; built Afrikaner schools in English areas like Durban North to gerrymander Afrikaner votes; school cadets and militarization of Engelse boykies; local SADF Commandos; ... I'm sure you know many more subversive Afrikaner examples...

Ja well, most Natalians like myself would've read Natal history and climbed the Berg like you (surfed Durbs waves when the Indian Ocean was unpolluted too), but that doesn't give buitelande Afrikaners your "common sense" right to claim ownership / settlement of KZN land settled and farmed for generations by English families in Natal.

Go back to the platteland! You're hypocritically worse than thieving blacks / ANC you despise. Natal doesn't need more thieves like you.

If anything, descendants of indentured sugarcane farming Indians and later Indian settlers: generations / hundreds and thousands of loyal Natal Indians, who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and hard work in Natal, have more right to Natal farmland than you and your Afrikaner crony thieves.

You'll recall Natal Indians were insulted and weren't allowed into the Transvaal and Vrystaat without a pass during apartheid. I knew many fine Indians in Durbs, finer than you, but crushed and impoverished by your Afrikaner apartheid subversion. I bet, like Zulus, Natal Engelse and Indians would despise and resist your latter day Natal Boer Republic dreaming.

And where were Natal Ossewa Brandwag patriots during WW2, when Natal Engelse were fighting fascists in North Africa and Europe? I knew many fine Natal English WW2 warriors, but not one Natal Afrikaner WW2 warrior.