Woke up to clouds but no rain and set off from the Top Forks Hut. Hike
up to waterfall face was steep one. Ascent over the face was O.k., some
parts you’d try but come back down to try again from a different
direction. I eventually got over the face and into the upper valley of
the Rabbit Pass. A breezy walk to what turned into a disaster. I got to a
saddle and based off the description of visual landmarks, the marker at
the top of the saddle and no mention of another route branching off the
Rabbit Route, I took this valley as the Rabbit Pass Valley.
This was incorrect.
I started down the valley and while my compass was telling me one thing,
the map and route description were telling me another. In the end I
followed the latter and ended up deep in the mountains, forcing my way
down the “Pearson” valley to a river I believed would lead down to
Junction flat, but it ended up taking me to the back of Mt Aspiring. The
terrain became increasingly difficult until I had literally trapped
myself in a ravine with no way out but forward.
Based on my situation and growing bad feeling, I knew that to continue
forward would severely increase my risk of injury or worse. I then set
off my Locator Beacon for SAR to save my ass from myself. I spent the
night in the ravine during a storm which delayed the rescue until the
morning the following day. SAR flew up the valley and after spotting me,
landed, broke out the ropes and got me out of there in no time.
Obviously my pride was humbled setting off the Beacon, but only up until
I saw where on the map I was and where I was going. I was getting into
deeper trouble every step, attempting to push onwards.
Without any doubt, had I not had that Locator Beacon, I would have ended
up miles away from any trail, beyond any hope of being spotted from a
Search and Rescue.
To the boys at SAR, thanks for saving my ass.
And to anyone looking to tramp in unfamiliar terrain, bring a Locator Beacon, don’t think twice about it.