It’s a decent overnight track, but needs some more markers in places. Here is a map. The track starts at a spiffy little campsite. If you are car camping this looks like a good spot – not too busy, and with a decent view. I started on the Wooded Gully track about 10am.
This starts off very nicely, and if you can’t be bothered then you can just do a 2hr loop.
But soon it starts to ascend, and I found it more difficult than I expected. This may be because I was in front of a group of daywalkers who were talking loudly about some nonsense, and wanted to stay in front of them, thus causing me to powerwalk at such a speed that I discovered a new dimension of sweating.
After 1 hr 50 min I made it to the track junction on the ridge. I had let the daywalkers pass, and met them at the sign. As I looked at the sign saying ‘Mt Thomas >’ one of them helpfully informed me that the mountain was that way. Thanks! After all I decided to go walking in the bush with a big pack but no idea where I would go with it! I turned the other way and took the NW track towards Bob’s Camp.
Once at the junction with Ridge Track I tried a new experiment for lunch – cabin bread with salami. The cabin bread seems to take up more room than wraps (my previous default) so I don’t think I’ll try it again. This was followed by some Nuun electrolyte. Usually I wouldn’t buy fancy things like that (‘Wellness’ products make me want to puke with all their upper-middle-class marketing crap) but it was a stocking filler. Verdict: Tastes nice, but it needs some sugar! If you’re sweating enough to need electrolyte you’re working hard enough to need some glucose. What’s that you say? It’s not actually for people exercising, just people who want ‘wellness solutions’? Oh, right. I’ll go back to boiling barley sugars then. The ridge travel is reasonable, and you can do some map to ground work – it’s easy to see the ridges that the other tracks are on.
After 50 min I was at the track junction with Whare Ridge Route
I took Bob’s Camp Route. The track is well marked and travel is easy.
The track then ascends to what is the highest point – B2MF is 1081m, higher than Mt Thomas at 1023m.
From here there are some sharp descents, but not too bad.
And then it breaks out in to the open.
Wandering along the open tops I felt like a free-range woman.
From here the track starts descending steeply.
It was here that I started hitting problems. The first was a snow pole directly in front of a band of manuka. I couldn’t see the next marker, and thought since the band was so small people were expected to blast through it? Clearly people had, judging by the state of the bush, so I did the same.
Then a similar thing happened again
I could NOT see the next marker, so I checked the map, thought I was on the track, and since I now have a smartphone with GPS, checked that too. Bing! I was right on top of the track. But all I saw was
Down I went.
It was a bit of a scramble but not too bad. But I couldn’t see the next marker. The GPS still said I was directly on the track, but the best I could see was a possum trap marker.
I followed that, but even they ran out after a while. The descent was a bit slow (scree underfoot) and I was covered in manuka leaves by the end. After a while I did come across the track.
If you are ascending up this ridge leave a cairn or two!
This was just in time because about 200m from the hut I ran out of water. In total it took me 7 hours. Fluffing around bush bashing probably added 30-45 min.
The hut sleeps 8, has a stove and a rifle rack but no tank. It was built in 1983 and shows its 80s influence in a Spanish-style arch doorway to the bunk room. I think more huts should speak to their age. The long drop spoke to everyone that visited with a reminder in pink fluoro paint: ‘POO POOS ONLY PLEASE!’ The stream was quite low when I was there. I had a wash to get rid of all the manuka leaves then settled back to reading some more Chaucer. Not as bad as last time, but I think I prefer my literature a bit more newfangled. The next morning I woke at 6 so I just got up and was on the track by 7.
This side was well marked.
As the track ascends it gets a bit rockier.
It took me 1 hr 50 min to Bob’s Camp junction.
It took me 45 min to the junction with Wooded Gully track.
Mt Thomas is quite an accommodating walk inasmuch as if you arrive and can’t be bothered walking up (and let’s face it, who can) you can DRIVE! There’s an unsealed road that goes right to the summit!
It really is worth going because you can see all the way to Christchurch. I think the view was better than Mt Oxford. The track then descends down through a plantation forest.
Travel in the plantation is like walking down a ramp – no stairs. Some parts are quite steep.
I found this section quite boring.
It took me 1 hr 20 min to descend, and 5 hours total from the hut.
In summary, this track is ‘proper’ tramping, unlike Wharfedale Track. It is a good overnight tramp but needs a few more markers on the Cattle Peak descent.