Pack Track up the Pisa Range (Monday 16th Feb)

We woke to the alarm and a bit excited. We were going tramping, somewhere up the Pisa Range. It was a cold gray morning, with the possibility of rain – just as forecast. But it was also forcast to improve through the day. It took us a while to get going, making lunch and sorting our gear. It wasn’t far to the start of the track, up Swann Road up the Lowburn Valley. We finally started off about 10am, and the climbing started about 5 minutes later. We were heading up the Packspur Track, or something like that. It was a 4WD sort of track, although fairly steep for that.We climbed through the Rosehip zone, and warmed up a bit, as the views started to expand. We could see over Cromwell and up the lake. Later we climbed through the spaniard/speargrass zone, and the wind was cold – we climbed on clad in parkas and beanies and gloves. The view continued to expand, up the Lindis, Lake Dunstan, Cromwell, and Bannockburn. Eventually we reached a crest, at a bit over 1300m, a climb of over 1000m from the car. By this stage we could see over to the Nevis and the Remarkables, and through over Bannockburn towards Earnscleugh. We came to a sign saying we were on the Cromwell – Cardrona Pack Track. We carried on down into a gully, with a hut visible before the track climbed on further up towards further on. We reached the hut at about 2.30pm.

The hut announced itself as Deep Creek Inn, and it is a musterers hut and off limits. The front door had a big padlock, and the back door opened, so we had a wee look through. It has lots of character, and could tell lots of stories of musters past. The piles of beer bottles outside told a story as well. It was sheltered and sunny, a lovely place to enjoy lunch and have a rest for a bit. We headed back the same way about an hour later, and it wasn’t as cold on the crest, although still not warm. The clouds were all gone by the time we came to the descent – we could even see right through the Cromwell Gorge towards Alexandra. As we got lower we started to warm up and we stopped a few times to remove warm clothing. With hindsight, the weather was perfect. If it had been sunny for the climb, we would have struggled. The car looked so far below for a long time, but gradually it got closer, and we reached it at about 6.30pm. We were tired and a bit sore, and very pleased with ourselves – it was a great day. We were even more pleased with ourselves when we checked our route out on Google Maps and worked out we’d been over 1300m – my initial estimates based on the nearby Mt Michael had us about 300m lower. We really had made a bit of a step up with our “walks”.

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