Showing posts with label Bealey Valley Track. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bealey Valley Track. Show all posts

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Bealey Valley Track: 28th April 2019

A damp stroll along the Bealey Valley track...

My partner Karen and I went up to Arthur's Pass for a couple of days in late April. We were hoping for some nice weather so we could do a couple of walks but unfortunately a front moved onto the South Island bringing rain with it. We still went and mostly sat in the bar at the Bealey Hotel with a drink in hand as we watched the rain outside. 

Bealey Hotel: accommodation block overlooking Bealey river bed

Bealey hotel: interior of one of the rooms at the hotel

We did get out for one walk, we went for a stroll up the Bealey Valley to the edge of the first clearing and then turned back to the car as it started raining cats and dogs...

DOC track sign at the beginning of the Bealey Valley Track


The Bealey River from the bridge over the Bealey Chasm



A walk in the rain, Bealey Valley style...

It was basically pouring with rain for most of the two days we spent in Arthur's Pass but taking advantage of a short break in the weather we drove up to the Bealey Valley Track and went for a walk over the river and up to the edge of the first clearing. 

Start of the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass NP


Map: Upper Bealey Valley and surrounding area


We would have gone further but that is where the weather packed a sad and started snowing, sleeting and raining. We turned around and walked back to the car as it was really kind of miserable.


No dogs allowed in the Bealey Valley....it is a Kiwi Zone



As you can see the track and forest were wet but not yet flooded as it would have been later in the day after another biblical deluge. The short tracks in the park receive a lot of work so they are smooth, flat and have a nice gradient to them. 


Walking along the first flat section, Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

There are a number of steps and stair sections so this track is not suitable for wheelchairs and/or baby strollers, mobility scooters etc. 

Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass: the first set of stairs


Karen on the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass


After about 150 meters there is a track junction....if you continue straight on you will eventually arrive at the Arthur Dobson Memorial on the top of Arthur's Pass. The memorial is really for Edward Dobson and his two sons Arthur and George who all played a part in the rediscovery of the Pass.


The Dobson Memorial cairn at the apex of Arthurs Pass

The track to the Bealey Valley descends to the left down a series of stairs and eventually arrives at the bridge over the Bealey chasm. 

Near the track junction on the Bealy Valley, Arthur's Pass

The Bealey Chasm is a point where the river disappears under a series of massive boulders, it then reappears a bit further down the river bed. When I was younger there was no bridge at this point so if you wanted to get to the Upper Bealey Valley you had to cross the river. Thankfully DOC have built a rather lovely bridge across the river so it is now an all weather track. 


Karen crossing the bridge at the Bealey Chasm, Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass


View up the Upper Bealey River from the bridge at the Bealey chasm

View down the Bealey River from the bridge at the Bealey Chasm

On the far side of the river is a short climb to a large swampy clearing with excellent views of the Bealey Valley, Mt Rolleston, Gouldney Ridge and Rome Ridge. Again, when I was younger there was a shallow tarn in the clearing but this seems to have filled itself in over the years.


Start of the climb past the Bealey Chasm bridge, Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

Karen walking up the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

Moss and orange track markers...Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass



Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass: about to enter the first clearing



View towards Avalanche Peak from the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass


Looking west towards Otira from the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

On the far side of the first clearing, Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

Looking towards Temple Valley Skiffed, Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

We walked over to the western edge of the clearing as we intended to keep going along the track. At this point the clouds once again descended and it started to rain, sleet and snow so we turned about and headed back towards the car park. 

If you continue along the path you will eventually reach the Bealey River again about two kilometres from the base of the Goldney Glacier. There are excellent views of he surrounding mountains from here and in summer you can follow the rough track up the true right of the river to the basin at the head of this valley.

The view from the end of the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

Just be aware that this is a avalanche risk area with avalanche paths coming off all the high ground around the Bealey River. Do not go past the sign at the end of the track in Winter or Spring without first checking the avalanche risk. 

Avalanche warning by the end of the Bealey Valley Track

You just follow the same track back to the car park....down past the Bealey foot bridge, up the slope to the track and along the flats to the end of the track. For more information see my trip to the Bealey Valley back in 2018.


Bealey Chasm footbridge, Arthur's Pass


Boardwalk and stairs leading to the Bealey Chasm, Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

Climbing back to the Arthur's Pass Walking Track

Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass: the only long distance view of Bealey Valley

If you are in the area and still feeling energetic you can follow the Arthur's Pass walking Track for about two kilometers to the top of the pass to the West Coast. There is a memorial cairn to Arthur Dobson there and a very nice track around some alpine bogs and tarns that are worth a look. 


Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass: at the junction with the Arthur's Pass Walking Track

Heading back to the car park, Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

Typical old growth Beech forest, Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass


Every time I walk past these glacial erratic rocks I wonder how many thousands of children must have climbed over them.......they look like they have rested here forever. the edges are all worn smooth from people's feet and hands.


A pile of glacial erratics alongside the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

All up our trip took about 40 minutes return, add another hour onto that if you walk to the end of the track at the Bealey River Valley. It is a nice wee track, easy to walk, well marked and easily one of the nicest short walks in Arthur's Pass National Park.

Go have a look for yourself....

Jacks Hut, Arthur's Pass

I have visited Jacks Hut many times over the years as it sits on the direct path of a number of good walking tracks in the area. Originally a road-mans hut, it was moved to this location in the early 1910's and used as a holiday bach by the Butler family for many years. This was Karen's first visit to the hut so we had a bit of a look around. 

Jacks Hut in the 1920's when still a road mans hut

Sometime in the 1980's it was donated to the Department of Conservation and is maintained by them as a fine example of a historic private bach on national park land.


Jacks Hut: a view of the front of the hut


It is a very tidy three room house...the back room had a series of bunks while the other two rooms had a lounge area and kitchen/boot room. It is not available for use by the public anymore but is well worth a look for the simple type of construction used in this type of building.


There are some interpretive panels inside Jacks Hut



Jacks Hut...the rear of the hut, one of the rooms

A lot of colonial homes were clad with corrugated iron sheets, they were relatively light to ship, easy to cut and were very water proof. Houses, churches, shops and back-country huts were made using this material although few of them remain now. 


Detail of one of the sides of corrugated iron clad Jacks Hut


Jacks Hut sign at the front of the building

Jacks Hut lies on the path of the Arthur's Pass Walking Track from the village to the top of the pass. If you ever visit Arthur's Pass make sure you stop and have a look at this curiosity of our colonial past. The car park for the Bealey Valley track starts immediately opposite Jacks Hut. 



The car park for the Bealey Valley and Arthur's Pass Walking Track


SH73 looking towards Arthur's Pass Village

Here is a curiosity of history, this is one of the old mile markers that denoted the distances on the route between Springfield and Otira on the West Coast. They are now over 100 years old and it is amazing that any of them still exist. You will find these scattered up and down SH73 which more or less corresponds to the route of the old stage coach line. 


One of the mile markers from the old coach route to Otira and the West Coast

If you are ever driving between Christchurch and Hokitika/Greymouth look for these mile markers alongside the road. 


Access: Turn off SH 73 at the car-park opposite Jacks Hut, the track starts next to the car-park. The first 200 meters are on the Arthur's Pass Walking Track, then turn off onto the Bealey Valley Track
Track times: 30-40 minutes to the Upper Bealey River, then 30 minutes to the cirque under Goldney Ridge.
Hut Details: Jacks Hut (historic)
Miscellaneous: Avalanche and rock fall danger in the Upper Bealey Valley, do not go past the end of the track unless you have some avalanche awareness. No toilets at any point along this track.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Short Walk: Bealey Valley Track, Arthurs Pass: 7 October 2018

  Day-walking in Arthur's Pass, Part One...


Over the weekend I went up to Arthur's Pass and did a couple of day walks, I would have planned an overnight trip but an uncle was having a 90th birthday party on the Saturday night. The two tracks I walked were the Bealey Valley Track and the Devils Punchbowl Track.


At the Devils Punchbowl Falls later in the day

I usually like to get up to Arthur's Pass around this time of the year to check out the snow conditions, tramping a lot of the tracks in the park depend on a lack of snow and it is hard to judge just from webcams and online information. I like to go up to the mountains and eyeball the situation in person.

Still plenty of snow on the mountains, Arthur's Pass National Park
I think we are going to have a late snow melt this year, there is still a pile of snow on the surrounding mountains so I would imagine late December is when the last of it will disappear.

On the Bealey Valley Track, 1-1.5 hours return

I have started work on a new website: Arthur's Pass Adventures so I needed some pictures to fill gaps in my photo collection. I had a list of locations I wanted to visit in Arthur's Pass so I started with the one furthest away and worked my way back towards Christchurch.


Map: Bealey Valley and Goldney Ridge

SH73 at the Bealey Valley car-park...Arthur's Pass townships is 4 kms in that direction


The Bealey Valley Track is approximately 4 kilometres west of the township, the entrance to the track starts at the car park opposite Jacks Hut. The car park is relatively secure as there is a lot of traffic going past as well as people walking the Arthur's Pass Walking Track which crosses SH 73 at this point.


An old road marker...Springfield is 53 miles away from this point

SH73 at the Bealey Valley Track entrance...Arthur's Pass is 3 km's in this direction

The track starts out right from the car-park, the first 500 odd meters is a part of the Arthur's Pass Walking Track from the village to the top of the pass. After 500 meters there is a junction leading down to the Bealey River and the bridge over the Bealey Chasm.

Sounds spooky doesn't it...the BEALEY CHASM!!!!

The silver surfer parked at the Bealey Valley car-park, Arthur's Pass National Park

Arthur's Pass National Park: start of the Bealey Valley Track network



The Bealey Valley Track: Arthur's Pass National Park

Track map for the Arthur's Pass Area

This first part of the track is to Great Walk standard; i.e. you could easily push a wheelchair over it.It is very picturesque along here with the deep moss on the ground, the alpine plants and moss covered beech forest.


On the Arthur's Pass Walking Track, near the Bealey Valley


Bridge over a small side stream, Arthur's Pass Track

At the junction there are a series of stairs which descend down the side of the valley gradually dropping you down to the Bealey River. The track quality is still superb...it is very easy walking!



Bealey Valley Track-Arthur's Pass Walking track junction

Lots of stairs on the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

Stairs and board walk on the Bealey Valley Track

Jon Moake on the Bealey Valley Track. Arthur's Pass

Down close to the Bealey River there is another track junction, the rough one on the right will take you down to the edge of the Bealey River while the other leads to the bridge over the Bealey River Chasm

The junction of the old and new tracks to the Bealey Chasm...go left!

When I was a teenager there was no bridge here so you could not get further up the track if the river was high as you had to ford it. Now it is a year round, all weather track. 


The bridge over the Bealey Chasm, Arthur's Pass

The Bealey River upstream of the Bealey Chasm Bridge

The Bealey River downstream of the Bealey Chasm Bridge


The end of the easy walking, Bealey Valley Track...

On the far side of the Bealey Chasm bridge the track reverts to your standard back-country track, it is much rougher with climbs, drops and other hazards.



Climbing up to the alpine bog on the Bealey Valley Track

Bealey Valley Track, heading out into the alpine bog

Goldney Ridge from the Bealey Valley Track near Margaret's Tarn

At Margaret's Tarn, Pt. 1548 from the Bealey Valley Track
There used to be a tarn in this alpine bog area but it has dried up over the years, now it is just a wet boggy area of mud, tussock and rock. Still very pretty though...



The Arthurs-Otira Pass area from the Bealey Valley Track

Looking down the Bealey River Valley from the Bealey Valley Track

It is back into the bush for the remainder of the walk to the Upper Bealey Valley. The track is easy and consists of alternating boardwalk and rock track with bridges over all of the larger side streams.


Heading into the bush just past the bog on the Bealey Valley Track

Looking towards the Temple Basin area from the Bealey Valley Track


I was using my new day pack, I brought a Vaude Brenta 40 pack to use on these day walks. It is a more suitable size, and holds all the gear I need for a couple of hours in a more compact form. It has the same great harness system that my Brenta 50 uses.


My Vaude Brenta 40l pack on the Bealey Valley Track

My Vaude Brenta 40l pack on the Bealey Valley Track

There are a couple of fixed bridges on this track,not really required as the streams they cross are so small. Still, at least it lets you walk the track with dry boots so that is a plus.


Moss covered trees on the Bealey Valley Track


Bridge crossing a side stream, the Bealey Valley Track


Bridge crossing a side stream, the Bealey Valley Track
There are the odd specimen of Dracophyllum along the track..these are often known as Dr Seuss trees as they look a little like the trees you see in his books. In fact they are remnants of ancient tree types that have existed in New Zealand alpine areas for millions of years.

I didn't see any Speargrass which is another endemic alpine plant but I know there are some further up the valley beyond the beech line at 900 meters.


Dracophyllum or Dr Seuss Tree on the Bealey Valley Track

You are safe on this track right up to the point where it intersects the Upper Bealey River. Past this point there is a significant risk of avalanche...there are a number of steep sided mountain ranges surrounding the valley and very dangerous avalanche chutes coming down off them..
Do not proceed past the end of the track unless you are avalanche savvy and have checked the avalanche advisory to make sure you are safe in the headwaters of the valley. Do not approach the headwaters if there has been a recent or heavy snow event, or if there is a lot of snow on the mountains and it is raining.

Avalanche warning sign on the Bealey Valley Track
From the end of the track you can see right up into the headwaters of the Upper Bealey River...


Closer view of Goldney Ridge from the Upper Bealey River

Below are some photos of an avalanche chute which comes down off the high ridges and ends right at the rivers edge. I have been up here in Winter before and there were huge piles of avalanche debris piled up at the end of this chute.

I'm not kidding you can easily get squashed like an pumpkin by an avalanche five meters from the end of the track....



Avalanche chute coming down off Pt. 1548, Upper Bealey River

Another view of the Pt 1548 avalanche chute, Upper Bealey River

I had checked out the on-line avalanche advisory so I knew there was a slight risk of avalanches so I felt confident to walk a bit further up the valley. There is a mountaineers track along the true right of the river you can follow or if you are feeling a bit more adventurous you can just walk up the river bed.


In the Upper Bealey River looking at the Goldney Glacier

Upper Bealey River, Jon with the Goldney Ridge in the background


The mountaineers track alongside the Bealey River, Upper Bealey River

I walked up river about 15-20 minutes almost to the edge of the beech forest, I didn't feel very confident walking past this point as there is a avalanche chute coming down off Rome Ridge and there was a bit of snow right on the edge.

I will come back at the end of summer when all of the snow has melted and walk right up to the cirque at the bottom of Goldney Ridge.


Almost at the edge of the Beech Forest, Upper Bealey River

I could just make out a trio of climbers up on Goldney Ridge, one climber was on the ridge coming down from Pt. 1832 and I could see two climbers traversing the snow slope directly under the Goldney Glacier. 

Very hard to see them as it was a kilometre or so away but I watched them for about 10 minutes and they were all on the move. 

Or it could have been Thar aka Himalayan Mountain Goats cavorting...


Spot the climber on Goldney Ridge, Upper Bealey River

Goldney Glacier with two climbers crossing the face...
I walked back down the river bed for a change, it is easy travel down the river as the water level was low but I would not come this way if it was raining. Watch the side banks as they have been undercut in the past by the river. I stayed mid central and worked my way down...

There are some awesome views across the valley to Mt Cassiday, Mt Blimit, and the ski field around Temple Basin.

Looking North towards Mt Cassidy and the Twin Creek Falls

Twin Creek Falls across the valley is the second highest waterfall in the park at 115 meters, but it is not possible to approach the base of the falls to have a look at them...


Close up of Twin Creek Falls on Mt Cassidy, Arthur's Pass NP


Walking down the bed of the Bealey River, Upper Bealey River Valley

Still in the bed of Bealey River, Mt Cassidy in the distance
If you walk out into the centre of the river close to the where the track is you can see most of Rome Ridge. Rome Ridge is one of several ways climbers can get up onto the Goldney Ridge and from there to Mt Rolleston, the most iconic peak in the national park. 

At 2275 meters Mt Rolleston is the second highest mountain Arthur's Pass National Park, Mt Greenlaw at 2315 is taller but much less accessible as it right out on the south eastern edge of the park.

Rome Ridge and Pt. 1825 from the Upper Bealey River Valley
There was a huge slab of shale laying out in the middle of the river. Shale is the atypical rock of the Southern Alps, it is ancient sedimentary rock thrust up from the ocean bed millions of years ago. 

The main characteristic of shale is that it flakes, that is why climbers call it 'weetbix rock', it will fall apart just like a weetbix at the most inopportune moment.  It is hellish to climb on; weak, flaky and prone to collapse...and it makes climbing the mountains of the Southern Alps sporty to say the least. 



Typical Southern Alps Weetbix rock....shale slab, Upper Bealey River Valley

Weetbix are just like a slab of shale...flaky!


I got one quick peek at Mt Rolleston as a window appeared in the clouds but it was a very fleeting glimpse as you can only see the extreme top of the mountain from this location. The best spots to see the mountain are either from the upper Otira River Valley, the Crow Valley or from the bed of the Waimakiriri River near Anti Crow Hut.


Mt Rolleston just visible on top right of photo, Upper Bealey River Valley

After a bit of a sit in the sun and a snack I set off back to the car, the track is much quicker on the way back as it is very gradually downhill all the way back to the Bealey Chasm Bridge. I passed two people on my way back to the car, they were the only folk I saw the whole time I was walking.



Heading back down the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

Bridge on the the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

This photo gives you a god idea of the rise and drop in altitude you experience on the Bealey Valley Track...it doesn't seem that pronounced on the way up but it actually is..



Steep track with boardwalk and bridges, the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass


Mt Temple and the Mt Cassidy Ridge from the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass


Last view of the Upper Bealey Valley, the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass


On the boardwalk across the alpine bog, the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass
The photo of Mt Cassidy below gives a good indication of how the vegetation changes with a gain in height. You can clearly see the different bands of plants as you go further up the slope.

The beech forest will peter out around the 1100 meter line, this is replaced by low alpine scrub and then tussock. Finally the top of the range around 1900-2000 meters is all exposed rock as the conditions are too extreme for plants to survive the heavy winter snows.



Mt Cassidy...good illustration of vegetation bands in an alpine area

At the Margaret's Tarn alpine bog there is a side track going off the Bealey Valley Track to god knows where...it is not on the topo map for the area. The best I can guess it is the old track up the Bealey Valley, that one deposited you at a point on the lower slopes of Rome Ridge.

Alternately, it may be a track onto Rome Ridge itself...I am intrigued....!!!!

The track to nowhere.....the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass


Tussock, beech forest and rock...classic Arthur's Pass scenery

The only two other people I saw on the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

You can see the very pronounced bend in the bridge over the Bealey Chasm. I'm going to assume this is a design feature as several of the other bridges in the area look the same. If it is not then this bridge has some serious design faults...


Approaching the southern side of the Bealey Chasm Bridge


Stairway to Heaven, the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

Last set of stairs on the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass


Nearly at the carpark on the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

Finally after an hour and a half of walking I popped out of the forest at the car park once again. I took the opportunity to walk over SH 73 to have a quick look at Jacks Hut. The hut is a historic one i.e. you cannot stay in the hut, it is just there as it is one of the few in situ roadmans huts still left in New Zealand.


Jacks Hut on the far side of SH73, near the Bealey Valley Track, Arthur's Pass

Up until the 1920's there was a roadman located every 10 kilometres along SH73 over Arthur's Pass. They were paid and responsible for the upkeep of the road for five kilometres either side of their hut. 

Even into the 20th century they maintained the road using a pick, shovel and wheel barrow...what a hard life it must have been!

Jacks Hut, Arthur's Pass...one of the last existing road-mans huts

The only other roadmans hut still in existence along SH73 is the one at Porters Pass, on the way to Arthurs Pass National Park. It is in a dilapidated state and sits forlornly on the side of the road just before the climb over Porters Pass. 

These are the only two remaining from the 20 odd huts built to accommodate the turn of the century road repair crews.


Porters Roadmans Hut, Porters Pass, SH 73

The Bealey Valley Track is a  great wee day walk, I recommend it whole heartily to those of you passing this way. Just be careful of those snow and avalanche conditions...

Access: Turn off SH 73 at the carpark opposite Jacks Hut,.The track starts next to the carpark. The first 500 meters are on the Arthur's Pass Walking Track, then turn off to the Bealey Valley Track
Track times: 30-40 minutes to the Upper Bealey River, then 30 minutes to the cirque under Goldney Ridge.
Hut Details: Jacks Hut (historic)
Miscellaneous: Avalanche and rock fall danger in the Upper Bealey Valley, do not go past the end of the track unless you have some avalanche awareness. No toilets at any point along this track.