Thursday, November 16, 2017

Earnslaw Burn

Earnslaw Burn is a wee valley draining the southern aspect of Mt Earnslaw/Pikirakatahi (2,830m). The start of the track is a little hard to find as there are no signs and it is marked incorrectly on old maps. Turn down Lovers Leap Rd (off the road to Paradise), and when the road does a sharp right turn look across the paddocks to the left and you will see an orange triangle. The track sidles up the valley through beech forest for four hours, staying roughly 100m above the stream. It is not particularly interesting, with only one or two views and no glimpses of the river until nearly at the bushline. The rewards come once you emerge into the delightful alpine basin with a babbling stream, lovely flats and waterfalls pouring over majestic flats. There is a rock bivvy, complete with wooden sleeping platform, on the true right of the stream at the bushline and another about 500m further upstream under cliffs on the true left. As you wander up the valley the vista only gets more spectacular as the Earnslaw Glacier comes into view. There are plenty of excellent camping spots and boulders which would give some shelter. I bivvied under a rock near the head of the valley at the base of Lennox Pass. It would have to be one of the most majestic I have ever slept!

I returned back the way I came, but a good alternative is to head up onto the tops from the first stream below the bushline and follow the ridge to Lovers Leap and down to the car park.

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