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27 February, 2008

Gentle Annie Track

Mt Holdsworth

page 1

"Gentle Annie" is an Australian and New Zealand term for a long hard unrelieved uphill slog. There are Gentle Annie roads all over the place.

I suspect the makers of the Gentle Annie washing machine may not have done their homework.

That said, this track is the easier option if you're heading up to Mountain House shelter or beyond. It's not a motorway but the track is well-maintained and graded. About half-way up is Rocky Lookout, a favourite turning place for school parties who are not quite dedicated enough to make it up to Mountain House, let alone Powell Hut.

DoC time is two hours. Fatman time is a little over three hours, one way, including a short packs-off at Rocky Lookout and time out for photos. Coming back takes a little under three hours, fatman time.

The Atiwhakatu Valley Track joins this one just before Mountain House Shelter, and if you're happy with a very steep downhill section to the river, this would be a good choice for your return trip. I went back the way I came, and judging by my slightly wobbly knees by the time I finished, that was probably the wisest choice. I intend to try the other next time, though. I shall need to be in a touch better training.

I am also interested in getting up to Powell Hut and possibly having a walk around immediately beyond.

The daunting bit is that the distance from Mountain House to Powell is 1.8 km, and given by DoC as a 2 hour walk. When DoC times get below 1kph average, there's usually a reason. I'd probably want to allow at least 3hr 30m.

Still, it's a goal for a fatman.

On with what we have done so far. We (Alice and me. Miranda was at the time on her way up to Fantham's Peak.) started down at the Mt Holdsworth Campground and followed the Loop Track for some 15-20 minutes before reaching the turnoff to Gentle Annie. Some of these pics are from last November's walk to Rocky Lookout.

In November, the vegetation is lush and in parts the track is a touch slippery. By February, the filmy ferns and the kidney ferns have crisped up and there's more of a dry whisper in the breeze as it passes through the foliage. It's an excellent walking track, though it won't all be like this.

Bridges like this are an invitation for Alice to go for a wade and a drink. Like most dogs, she indicates that almost any water is preferable to tap water.

One of the features of this track especially where there's a bit of rain is the carpeted moss.

Dianella berries are ripe in February, though a little short of the intense blue I have seen elsewhere.

Alice very discreetly draws my attention to a large pigeon perched above us.

What impresses me about this track is the thoroughness of the maintenance program. Any area where a problem might arise seems to have been anticipated and provided for.

Tanalised slabs have been extensively utilised for holding up sections of track, secured by waratah standards fastened to anchors on the cliff.

There's some lichen covering a clay section, and it seems to be in the course of reproduction, though I know very little indeed about what is going on here. But I am fascinated nevertheless.

Extensive use has been made of gravel surfacing for the track.

Here's an umbrella fern.

and here's one with new fronds just starting

This I think is a fern. At some months remove it also possibly resembles a tanekaha or toatoa, but I haven't seen anything like it before and my lingering memory at the time is of a predominantly ferny appearance.

Lycopodium is everywhere.


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