Peak 51: Mt Bruce
After descending Woolshed Hill and getting back into the car at around 1pm, I decided to crack on with the challenge and complete another peak. Not only would this give me 8 days to do only one peak, but give me a bit of rest over Christmas to plan out my travel time and see if I could get a weather window.
Onwards to Cora Lynn and the next peak, Mt Bruce (1630m) at the back end of the Cass-Lagoon Saddle Track (which is an amazing 2-3 day walk which I last completed with my friend Lane back in Winter 2012 – we had an epic adventure wading in knee deep snow – the first ones on the track for two months!). Anyway, the peak took me up from Bealey Hut (a standard backcountry hut) winding up through the forest plantation on a well formed trail. A couple of hairpins later after a gentle start, the trail steadily climbed and I was cutting nicely across the slope, sidling towards the edge of the forest.
I’d had a look at my route from a distance and it seemed to cross some nice grassland, all the way from the forest to the summit. Little did I know what was in store for me. Head high tussock, knee deep holes, scree and loose shale underfoot… great! This was a bit of a kick in the nuts to be honest – having already completed a peak in the morning I was hoping for an easy ride to the top of this one. Never mind!
After leaving the trail I set up a bearing diagonally up the slope – looking behind me to check off features I could align myself with on the descent so that I didn’t have to navigate too much. The going was tough. One step up, one step down into the grass, knees high, lift it up, keep going, repeat. finally I got a break after a slight crest and found a stream valley to run up into some coppices. It was a welcome break before the inevitable scree dash.
The loose rock came soon enough, but was only a thin strip before hitting the ridgeline and making my way quickly up to the summit. Feeling good, I took a look to the south to count the Craigieburn peaks off that I had ran this year (now looking from the opposite direction); Hamilton Peak, Nervous Knob, Mt Cheeseman… to name a few, all at this time of year covered from head to toe in grey boulders.
The summit came quickly and I celebrated in normal fashion – taking in the views of Arthur’s Pass and the Waimakariri River Valley. Stunning, yet again.
Back down exactly the same way, I aimed for the hedgeline of Cora Lynn Road and hit the track spot on. Descended through the trees, across several streams and back to the car, ready for my water and food hit.
Peak 51: Done. Now 8 days to go before I’ll have completed the challenge!