Chinamans cave trip take one;
It was good to see some good keen trampers turn up and rearing to go for the 1st trip for the year. Six of us met at the car park and we picked up three more at Maheno on our way down to Trotters Gorge reserve from where we were going to start our hike to Chinamans Cave.
We set off up the track toward the university hut crossing Trotters Creek several times.
With the recent rain the week before the creek was still a bit high, so there was no way of avoiding wet boots. About half a km past the university hut we came to the clearing where you turn off to Dave’s track or South peak, but we veered to the left to carry on, following Trotters Creek.
We have hiked this track many times over the years but sadly the gorse is starting to take over. I thought this may be a wee bit of a problem, so I had brought a hand-held cutter with me to do some trimming along the way. However soon the gorse got bigger, so out came Johns saw, but this was taking up time and we were on a trip to the cave not a working bee. I decided to give the farmer whose property we were going to be on a call to see if we could come around to the Palmerston side of his farm and start there and he was all good with that. So we retreated back out of Trotters Gorge with wet feet again to the vehicles.
Chinamans cave trip take two;
We drove over Horse Range Rd to the Palmerston side, the farmer having told us to drive through his paddocks and park by some yards. It was now 11.30am, so from here we had two options. Either take a vehicle track up the hill to meet the track we would have been on if we had got through the gorse, or stay low and follow up a creek through a pine plantation that the farmer suggested would be a good option. None of as had been this way before so we decided to give it a go and it turned out to be a good option.
We followed a good stock track to start off, which led onto an old vehicle track and after about half an hour we came out into a clearing where the trees had been harvested in the past. We negotiated our way over this area and soon we were in a gorge where we came across an old caravan and hut.
At this stage we were only about half a km from the cave, but the next 300m was going to be a bit of a challenge with thick scrub and lots of ongaonga. After about half an hour we pushed our way through and finally arrived below the cave at 1pm where we had lunch. After lunch we scrambled up to the cave entrance and into the cave which, always impresses me every time I go there. With the bush in front of it you would never know it was there.
After exploring the cave, signing the visitor’s book which said it had been 3 years since we were last there, we headed back down to the track to decide our best way out since we didn’t feel like going back through that scrub again. It was decided we would climb high out of the valley and get on to the 4WD the track that we would have been on in the morning to get to the cave.
But after climbing over a wee rise we came across another valley with a good track going back down towards the pine plantation, which made it an easier way out and we missed all the scrub. We were back at the vehicles about 3.30pm and after all the problems of the morning we all agreed it had been a great trip covering some new territory.
Thanks to Julia, Mike, Bev, Roz, Bess, Chris, Jane and John for your great company; Neville