Setting off on a tramp, we’re often hopeful: about the weather, about the sights we’ll see and the experiences awaiting.
A reader recently inquired about places named ‘Hope’, which spurred me to write this column.
Coincidentally, I then read a reference to the Hope River in Paul Kilgour’s Gone Bush. Paul writes of tramping up the West Coast’s Tutaekuri (dog crap) River during a difficult period in his life. ‘I quickly realised,’ he wrote ‘that being by yourself in the mountains wasn’t any kind of escape.’
Despairing, lost and soaked, he even tried to fling himself off a void but got snagged by a branch. Brought to his senses, Paul managed to clamber out, climbed onto the tops, and found himself in sunshine.
‘When I checked the map, sure enough, I was looking down on the Hope River. So I’d climbed out of dogsh*t and … well, you get the point. I had to laugh. But it was true, I did start to feel more hopeful.’
Here are a few backcountry locations with hope in the name. And, for contrast, one called Hopeless.
1. Hope Valley, Lake Sumner Forest Park
This is one of the main valleys in Lake Sumner Forest Park and is full of hope. Beginning from SH7, the Hope Kiwi Track follows the north bank of the Hope River, to Hope Halfway Hut, then beyond to Hope Kiwi Lodge. Then, swinging north, the track heads into the upper Hope, passing St Jacobs Hut before reaching Top Hope and Hope Pass. A route over this low pass on the Main Divide leads into the Tutaekuri River. Capable trampers could complete the crossing over 3–4 days.
2. Mt Hope, Two Thumb Range
This modest peak (2086m) can be climbed from Stag Saddle, the highest point on Te Araroa Trail. Stag Saddle is the crossing between Bush and Camp streams, on the Two Thumb Range. Access is easiest from the south via the Coal River and Camp Stream Hut. Allow one full day or a more leisurely two.
3. Hope Col, Ruataniwha Conservation Park
While only the most intrepid mountaineers ever reach Hope Col (2573m), a high alpine notch between Mt Hopkins and Black Tower Peak, trampers can enjoy a long stroll up the Hopkins River to get a view of it. There are several huts en route – Red, Elcho, Cullers, Dodger and Erceg – before reaching Richardson Rock Bivouac. Situated near the head of the valley, it has a view of Hope Col. Allow 3–4 days return.
4. Hope Arm Hut, Fiordland National Park
Manapōuri is reputed to be New Zealand’s most beautiful lake, and it certainly has plenty of charm, whether you are travelling by foot, kayak or boat. Of the lake’s several arms, Hope Arm is the most accessible. Trampers can reach it on foot, providing they arrange a ferry across the lake’s outlet at Pearl Harbour. On the far side, a good 1–2 day circuit connects the Back Valley with Hope Arm Hut, taking about 6hr. Hope Arm Hut, nestled in the beech forest near the lakeshore, has bunks for 12.
5. Hopeless Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park
Mt Hopeless (2278m) was presumably named for its formidable appearance, rising in craggy magnificence from the Travers Valley. Hopeless Creek and Hopeless Hut take their names from the mountain. An excellent 3–4 day circuit is the route up the Travers Valley as far as Hopeless Creek, to Hopeless Hut, then over Sunset Saddle to Lake Angelus. From there, trampers can complete the circuit down Cascade Track to the Travers Valley.