Showing posts with label Ryde Falls. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ryde Falls. Show all posts

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Ryde Falls II - Back in the Black: 4 October 2014

Tramping day trip to Ryde the snow!

 I went for a tramp into Ryde Falls on Saturday last, there was a very small window of fine weather (or so I thought, more on that later) over the Canterbury Plains while the rest of the country had wind, snow and rain.

Start of Ryde Falls Track, Mt Oxford Forest Park

I thought it would be fine until at least the evening, well.....

Coopers Creek to Ryde Falls

I started out from the Cooper's Creek car park as usual, very busy on this Saturday so I expect a lot of others had the same idea as myself: tramping in the foothills. there was a bit of hail/snow about the place, probably from the previous evening.

Ryde Falls Track: DOC track map, Mt Oxford Forest Park

Track to Ryde Falls from Coopers Creek car park

Below are the DOC track markers at the start of the track and a map of the local Oxford forest park. The trip into Ryde Falls is 2-2.5 hours according to the map, or about 7-8kms total.

Ryde Falls Track: edge of Oxford forest

The start of the track is across paddocks and low river terraces, then it is a long slow climb to the high point of a ridge that runs alongside the track. It is mostly very gentle, sidling slowly upwards for the next hour or so.

Heading up Coopers Creek Track, Oxford Forest

Ah, nice sunny looking day, or is it....?

Blue skies on the Ryde Falls Track
Here I am on the track, blue skies behind me but already you can see some of the weather coming in.

Jon, day tripping to Ryde Falls

You enter the bush proper after about 10 minutes walking, the advantage of this track especially in the summer is that it is covered by forest for 90% of the way. At this low level the bush is quite open, not much undergrowth. This is the start of the climb!

Mixed exotic/native bush on the Ryde Falls Track

After crossing two stiles the track begins to climb onto the ridge, this is typical of the track conditions, it was originally a benched cart track for the sawmill which once existed in the area.

Ryde Falls Track: Climbing to Pt. 549

Panoramic series of views of the area in the lee of Mt Oxford, Ryde Falls are at the low point of the ridge line in the middle centre of the photo below.
Ryde Falls Track: View up to head of Coopers Creek

That is Mt Oxford in the Centre of the photo, you can traverse the tops and walk back down to Coopers Creek along the Wharfedale - Link Track - Ryde Falls tracks. A full traverse of Mt Oxford is about an eight hour trip so a lot of trampers will walk down the back slope to Wharfedale Hut and stay overnight.

Mt Oxford from the Ryde Falls Track

The track to the top of Mt Oxford climbs this spur line and then moves off to the left along the ridge climbing out of the photo.

Ashley Saddle from the Ryde Falls Track

Below is a shot of the start of the track to Mt Oxford, it is not technically difficult but it is a good hard 3-4 hour climb to reach the top. 

View east towards Mt Richardson

Near Pt. 549 on the Ryde Falls Track

Two photos of the nicely benched track, this is easy travel territory even with the odd patch of mud/swampy ground too negotiate. You can clearly see the old benching in the photo above, there is a very definite bank on the up hill side of the track. Originally the track would have been bullock cart wide.

Nice wide section of the Ryde Falls Track, Mt Oxford Forest Park

Here is a big wind fallen tree across the track, it is too heavy to remove, so DOC have nicely cut steps into it. There was a bit of windfall on the track from the storms we had earlier in the year, but most had been cleared away.

Windfall on the Ryde Falls Track

Again Mt Oxford from about 3 kms along the track from the car park, it is easy tops travel on the crest of the Mt Oxford massif.

Mt Oxford massif from the Ryde Falls Track

Here is a plant growing in the crown of a large beech tree just off the track. I'm not sure what it is, an orchid or clematis of some sort? This forest was once felled for timber so a proper three tier canopy is yet to develop. Eventually it will have tall podocarp trees, beech and low laying scrub. 

Native orchid in top of Beech tree

The forest is much thicker further along the track, lots of pole beech and regrowth would make for difficult bush bashing if you went off track. This is usual in an beech forest recovering from historic native timber logging. Eventually one tree will come to dominate and the others will die out.  

Descending towards the Link Track Junction

Link Track - Ryde Falls Track junction

Eventually you reach the track junction for the side track to the Wharfedale Track, its called appropriately the Link Track. There is an excellent specimen of Red Beech near here, stop and have a look, it would be at least 10-12 feet in diameter.The whole area was covered with these prior to milling, it would have been an impressive sight to see a forest of these giants on these ridges.

The Ryde Falls are 35-45 minutes away from the track junction.

Ryde Falls Track: Near the old bush railway

There are some interpretive panels about 15 minutes further along the track, unfortunately a bloody great beech tree has fallen on them! There are a couple of  seats here - it makes a great spot to stop and have a rest. Provided, or course, that a bloody great tree hasn't fallen on them!

Ryde Falls Track: Interpretive panels...and big tree!

The track descending to the river has fern groves on both sides, when you start passing these you are about 10 minutes from the valley bottom and the falls.

Ryde Falls Track: More open bush, ferns

With recent rain there were a few muddy spots, an example below, they don't slow you down too much. If you have ever tramped on a wet, muddy West Coast track you wouldn't even notice it, you just plough on through! I passed a group of 6-8 people near here.

Mud patch on the Ryde Falls Track

Eventually you reach the rest spot/camping area at Ryde Falls. As a place for lunch it is great there are some log seats, a water source for a brew up and a fire pit. As a camping spot it leaves a lot to be desired, rocky and lumpy ground and a bit cramped. See my previous trip report to Ryde Falls as I camped here for the night.

The so-so campsite at Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford Forest Park

Jon at the Ryde Falls camp site, Mt Oxford Forest Park
The falls themselves are a short walk up the side stream, follow the signs from the camping area, be warned the sandflies are vicious here, even in Spring.

Ryde Falls: first two tiers...there are six total!

Ryde Falls, multiple falls in one!

I had a nice if slightly chilly lunch break at the camping area near the falls.  After packing up and taking some photos I set out to walk back to the car park. About 5 minutes up the track it started to snow, first large flakes and then small balls much like polystyrene. By the time I reached the Ryde Falls-Link Track junction there was about 1-2 cm of it on the ground.

You can only just see but in the photo below the snow has just started to fall.

Deteriorating weather on the return to Coopers Creek

This is the second trip in a row where it has snowed while I'm out and about, I hope it isn't a trend starting. I don't really want to be known as "Snowman Jon".

Any way...I wrapped myself up and just trudged on through the weather. I was in no real danger because I was on a good track and had a full load of warm gear with me. It just goes to show that you need to carry the right gear when tramping in New Zealand.

 A bit of caution is always good idea, especially in Spring and Autumn when the weather is changeable.

Jon wearing his jacket on the Ryde Falls Track

The snow stopped after 30 minutes, but it remained cold and misty for the rest of the afternoon. It started snowing and hosing with rain just as I was driving through Oxford. 

Lovely Trip...even with the snow! 

Access: From Oxford Township follow Woodside Road, turn right into Mountain Road and drive to car park at Coopers Creek.
Track Times: 2-3 hours from Coopers Creek to Ryde Falls, same return

Miscellaneous: Toilets located at Coopers Creek and Ryde Falls camp site, the camp site is rough but will hold three 2 person tents. Treat water from Coopers Creek before drinking.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Ryde Falls: Mt Oxford Forest Park: November 2012

An overnight camp at Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford Forest Park

In late November I went for an overnight tramp to Ryde Falls, in Mt Oxford Forest Park. There is not a hut near the falls, so I took my tent and pitched up in a clear space provided. It is a 2.5-3 hour trip each way, following a track through regenerating bush and scrub.

Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford Forest Park

 I started out at the car park at the end of Mountain View Road and started walking in. 

Tramping the Ryde Falls Track, Mt Oxford Forest

The area around Mt Oxford was once heavily forested, timber felling in the area decimated the native bush until only remnants remain in steep inaccessible spots. There are a network of tracks leading towards Mt Oxford, Wharefdale Hut and the Black Hill range.

DOC sign, start of the Ryde Falls Track, Coopers Creek entrance
There is quite a big car park at the beginning of the track. This photo was taken on the Sunday morning, a lot of people do the track as a day walk, I passed numerous people on both days.

Ryde Falls car park at Coopers Creek
You start on river flats and gradually ascend into exotic and native forest. The track is clear and easy to follow for its whole length, reflecting its front country location.

Ryde Falls Track: Ascending through broken scrub, Mt Oxford Forest

Mt Oxford and Coopers Creek area, Mt Oxford Forest

Looking down on Coopers Creek and the Mt Oxford Massif
The track leads to both Ryde Falls and the Wharfedale track, there is a turn off point about an hour and a half after starting out. As you can see the travelling is easy, it is well maintained and the gradient is relatively flat. I noticed a lot of mountain bike wheel tracks, this is not an official mountain bike track but that obviously doesn't stop anyone.

Descending the Ryde Falls track towards the Falls

Ryde Falls Track, travelling along the first rideline

Mt Oxford Forest: junction of Wharfedale/Ryde Falls track

The track to Ryde Falls descending to Coopers Creek

Area of old growth forest, Ryde Falls Track, Mt Oxford Forest

There was an old tramway for moving the timber out of the area, this is mostly overgrown now but there is an option to explore the area near these information panels. The Wharfedale Track turn off is close to this point, it is all down hill to Ryde Falls from this point.

Info board at site of old tramway, Coopers Creek, Mt Oxford Forest

Descending towards Ryde Falls on the Ryde Falls Track

Ryde Falls Track: just before the descent to Ryde Falls

You pop out at the bottom of the Ryde Falls Track right on Coopers Creek, a quick stream crossing and you are at the Ryde Falls camp-site. In the photo below the Falls are behind me, end of the track back to Mountain View Road is on the right.

View down Coopers Creek from the end of the Ryde Falls Track

When you reach the bottom of the valley you are surrounded by a suprisingly thick area of bush, it is really quite beautiful. There is a small amenity area with cut up logs for seats, a concrete fire pit and flat camping area next to the river. You follow this sign up a side stream to visit the Falls.

Visiting Ryde Falls from the campsite

 Ryde Falls have seven steps, the flow at the time was very low as it has been so hot and dry in Canterbury for the previous month. There is always water flowing just not a lot at certain times of he year

Next to Ryde Falls camp-site, Mt Oxford Forest

The area immediately in front of the Falls is sand fly hell, when I stopped to take these photos about a thousand of the sods attacked me at once.

Be warned, cover up before you come down to the falls.

Ryde Falls in Oxford Forest Park

View of Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford Forest
The camping area doesn't look very promising, but it was actually very nice, with the dark forest, the sound of the river/wind and a cosy fire to keep you company. There are sites for about 4 tents, a couple of small fire pits and a toilet, water is from the stream right next to the camp-site.

I had my lunch here and after the day trippers had left set up my tent, had dinner and settled down next to a fire with a brew before turning in early.


Camp site near Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford Forest

Coopers Creek passes right in front of the camp-site, the water is potable as there are no farms, forestry or industries upstream but I would still treat it before drinking the water. There is a nice shallow pool about 50 meters downstream from the camp-site.

View upstream of Coopers Creek, this is next to the camp-site

Here I am sitting in the picnic area, it is on a river terrace about 10-20 feet up from the river. There are a lot less sand flies near the camp-site, they must all be hanging out with their buddies up near the falls. There were two other groups here when I arrived all having lunch after the trek in.

Jon at Ryde Falls camp-site, Mt Oxford Forest, Canterbury foothills

Tent set up in the small camp site at Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford Forest

My small campfire at Ryde Falls for some night ambience

There isn't a lot of firewood in the immediate area, but if you go down river there is a lot more in the forest along Coopers Creek. I managed to find enough and just snapped it over rocks so it would fit in the existing firepit.

Home via the Korimako, Wharfedale and Connector Tracks

The next day, I was up early, packed up, had breakfast and headed back out to the car park. On the way back I followed the Korimako Track up to the Wharfedale Track, there were a lot of ferns growing alongside this trail, a fire a couple of years ago cleared away the competition.

Map: The relationship between the Korimako, Link and Ryde Falls Tracks

Lots of ferns on the Korimako Track, Oxford Forest Park
 There were several more open areas where the ferns predominated.

On Korimako Track: ascending track towards Wharfedale track, Mt Oxford Forest

Korimako Track: Ascending track towards Wharfedale track, Mt Oxford Forest

When you get to the Wharfedale Track, you travel along for 10-15 minutes and then join the Link Track to get back to the Coopers Creek/Mountain Road car park.

On the Wharfedale Track heading for the Link Track to Coopers Creek

Track sign at the Wharfedale Track - Link Track junction

On the Link Track heading back to Coopers Creek, Mt Oxford Forest

I passed some examples of windfall on the track heading back to the car park. This beast was at least 2-3 times taller than me (I'm 6'3") I'm glad I wasn't in the forest when that wind storm came through. There was a whole area of windfall and all of the dead trees were the same size. 

Big Wind!!!

Massive windfallen tree, Connector Track, Coopers Creek

All in all an excellent trip, next time I will do it as a day trip as the whole trek could be done in about 5 hours.