Four of us left Timaru Sat morning heading for Arthurs Pass. As this trip involves a vehicle shuffle and as we only had one car Russell kindly said he would bike from the Bealy Hut car park where we had left the car to the Cass end to start the tramp. (11 km). We waited there till he arrived and hid the bike so we could collect it on our return home. We started walking by 10.45am up the Cass River gravel bed. The water was a bit milky as there had been a bit of rain the previous day. Some of the markers were difficult to spot as I think several had disappeared through wear and tear. Caution was required on river crossings in a few places. It was a pleasant temperature for walking initially and dry but cloudy. It was a gradual climb up through beech and we reached the small 2 bunk Cass Hut where we had lunch. After lunch we continued on up through tussock to Cass Saddle. It had started drizzling at this stage so views from the saddle looking back from where we had come where limited but we did have views the other way. The steep descent down through the beech was covered in moss and lichen which was very pretty. Soon we were down at Hamilton Creek which also was murky with quite a good flow on it. The walk to Hamilton Hut took 7 hours. Along the way we encountered lots of wind fallen trees which we had negotiate, and slippery tree roots. We were all quite wet with the drizzle and were quite relieved to get to the hut and see the smoke coming from the chimney. Hamilton hut is a 20 bunk hut and there were 6 other trampers there. Sunday morning it just started to drizzle again as we were about to leave the hut. There is a flash new swing bridge over Hamilton Creek where the old walk wire used to be. We continued to walk in amongst the beech and chose to use the flood route in several places to avoid some river crossings and travel up the river. This also had the advantage of good views looking down on the river and over some of the country we had come from. After about 3 hours we arrived at the rustic old West Harper Hut which has beams made from beech and old sagging beds. We enjoyed a hot brew here and cover from the rain. We continued on encountering some more wind fall and also travelling up the river doing a few more crossings following cairns. There are some lovely spots to camp in if doing this trip in summer. A late lunch was enjoyed at Lagoon Saddle shelter with another hot cuppa. This wee shelter has 1 bed but a great spot if required to shelter in. After leaving here we continued onto the saddle and the weather cleared so we were lucky to have excellent views all around. Walking across the tops was lovely looking down on the Waimakariri and mountains. A lot of the old board walk has been removed so in places quite damp and puddley. We followed the poles along and soon we were back into some beech then pine trees where we descended back down to the Bealy Hut (6 bunks). It had been another long day walking 8 hours due the wind fall and care required with the river crossings. But we all had a thoroughly enjoyable trip. As Monday weather didn’t look good for some day trips we felt quite satisfied with our weekend away we opted to drive home on the Sunday. Thanks to Judy for the trip planning and meal preparation, Colin for driving, and Russell for his extra effort of biking to avoid the transport issues.
Trip writer Catherine