This trip was meant to go to the Rock & Pillar Range but with the forecast of rain & cloud I decided it was not the best place to be on a day like that.
I looked at the forecast closer to the coast and showers were forecast later in the day so I put the word out that we would be heading to the Silver peaks area. Three hardy trampers met on the Sunday morning in overcast conditions and it was decided to stay in the low part of the silver peaks and explore the river track up to the Philip J Cox memorial hut.
We headed south to Waitati and up Semple Rd and 1 km past the main car park we parked by the start of the Possum Hut route. From here we headed down this track, but instead of following this track all the way down, we veered right and headed down through the pine tree to come out by the Waikouaiti River South Branch a bit further down. From here we crossed the river (no wet feet} to pick up a good track on the other side. I think there is a group of people that maintain these tracks and they do a very good job. We followed this track down past the bottom of Rosella ridge, crossing Cats Teeth creek along the bottom of Hermit ridge. We found what looked to be a good track coming off Hermit ridge and another good track dropping down to the river below, which we would explore in the afternoon to see if it would get us up to Walkers Rd. We crossed another creek which was a great spot with the water flowing over smooth rock and flow into the Waikouaiti River with the bush all around.
It was then a bit of a grunt up a rough track through the bush to meet up with the Yellow ridge track and on to the Philip J Cox hut by 11.45am. Lunch was had here in warm conditions and after a rest and a look around we retraced our steps back to the bottom of Hermit ridge. We took the track we had seen in the morning down to the river thinking it might go up the river to meet up with Walkers Rd track. We knew that it was a long shot because according to the map the Walkers Rd ridge was another 1km up the river and we were right. After bush bashing on the other side for 5 min and not finding any tracks we headed back to the main track. Sure enough further up the track just before Cat Teeth creek we spotted an orange ribbon going back down to the river and another ribbon on the other side which lead into a firebreak. It was then another grunt up through the pine trees to come out on to Walkers Rd. It was then up Walkers Rd and back on to Steep Hill Rd and back to the vehicle and a light shower of rain was starting to fall. All up it was a 16km hike and took 6 ½ hours in warm overcast conditions with a light shower at the end. In the end I think it was a good option and exploring some new tracks in the Silver Peaks.
Thanks to Maurice & Phyllis for their company for the day and I know Maurice is already thinking of exploring the Hermit Ridge Track. Neville