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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Hayden

The Gillespie Pass

It's been a year since I moved south and Otago has treated me well,

This place really welcomed me with open arms.

Thanks to a public holiday I was able to plan a trip where we could get to know each other a little more intimately.

Happy Anniversary weekend 😘

The Gillespie Pass

Day one started with a short jet boat ride through Makarora to the Young river mouth,

This was a first for me and I was stoked.

That thing is a lot of fun🤙🏽

The ten other passengers and I had boots on the ground about half nine, heading up stream to Young Hut.

Most had come in groups, leaving just a few of solo.

I paired up with a British bloke my age who kept a good pace and yarn.


Most of the first day was spent under the trees but when it opened up the views were spectacular.

Recent rains had left the track rather moist😅

Luckily my new boots are totally waterproof to the top eyelet and I was able to keep my feet dry... For now.

River cheating is a favourite past time of mine, I've fucked around for hours trying to avoid taking my boots off 😂

This trip would be no different, I found a fallen tree and won the first round 👌🏻

Over this bridge is the Young forks Campsite, our game of leapfrog started here when the other group of boys stopped for lunch.

We continued up the river to our first ascent, a short but sharp climb up a few hundred metres.

Leapfrog continued as we overtook a group of girls who had bagged the best pit stop of the day mid waterfall.

From here the track was pretty easy going though I'd noticed a pain around my right knee.

Nothing's broken but let's see how far It can bend 🤷🏻‍♂️😂


We arrived at the hut mid afternoon and had prime pick of the bunks, though in true Joe fashion I'd forgotten to get my hut ticket🤦🏻‍♂️

The ranger took full advantage of this and seemed to enjoy fucking with me a bit before writing my invoice😅

Day two was going to be a big one, combining a trip to Crucible Lake on the way to Siberia Hut meant we

had a solid twelve hours ahead of us.

We headed up the valley for an hour before reaching the pass itself, a sharp incline substancially larger than the last.

This would take us to the neighbouring valley.


⏫ I think we bagged the best spot for lunch day two.

If I'm being honest it really belongs to these guys⏬

The descent to Siberia Valley was about a thousand metres and my knee knew that better than anyone😅

With the valley floor in sight we continued downhill, I've got places to be🤷🏻‍♂️

Time for a couple more rounds of man cheats river🙌

We dropped our packs and headed towards Crucible Lake feeling light.

Not quite light enough to walk on water though😅

The boots came off for round two and should've come off for three but

I got cocky and they got soaked😂

My boots squelched all the way up to Crucible.

Another six hundred metres or so uphill that was anything but gradual.

An excess of tree roots posed as handy ladders up the steep slope.

Round four, fight !

The boys, eager once again to cheat the river.

A game I know all to well...

High risk low reward 😂

Redemption 👌🏿

Frogs are a leapin'

As we got our first glimpses of the lake one of the other boys is on his way down,

Together three of them started this trip now they're on separate journeys 😂

Hikers weren't the only ones in the high ground. Gunshots echoed through the valley, someone was looking for dinner.

The hunters seemed quite pleased frying up some backstrap later that night at the hut🤤

Just because it's right there, doesn't mean it's right there😂

The lake is a little further than it looks and It's a good slog up the last section.

But it really is a beautiful lake, ice and all.

It's also the best bath I'll get out here so it was time to go swimming 🥶

Count to three but jump on two👌😂

Don't I look refreshed🤷🏻‍♂️

Before we knew it the frogs were back and it was time to let the girls have the bathouse, we headed back downhill to collect our bags and try outrun that angry cloud closing in⏬

I switched into my Crocs for the short walk to the hut when I noticed there were no soles in my shoes🤦🏻‍♂️ my dumb ass left them at home to dry😂

I strolled proudly up with my booking to see the same ranger running the same lines on some other poor sod😂

She had this routine down to a T👌

Our evening at the hut was spent sipping hot drinks and waiting for the last few people to arrive, this was very much a spectator sport and we had a few good laughs.

We knew it gonna rain on day three.

Everyone from our boat had plans to catch it back from the far end of the loop.

That river is biiig, it'll beat us😂

Our ride came at ten and it was only about two hours to the pick up point.

There was a little elevation followed by a long descent down to the Wilkin River,

We were told there would be thirty mls of rain between dawn and midday and it all started falling just after we'd reached our destination.

It was time to go,

The thunder and lightning made a compelling argument and my shorts ...well my shorts weren't longs 😂

Unlucky for my friend there was a last minute shuffle around and somehow he got pushed to the next ride an hour later 😬

This time the jet boat ride was a lot longer, the river was high and

The rain pelted us as we skimmed the water.

it was exhilarating🤘🏽

Back on the dock my leg had real trouble straightening out, I don't think it liked the cold😅

But I inched back to my car and drove to Night 'n Day to settle my stomach 🍔🍟

Firebird are closed Monday/Tuesday 🤦🏻‍♂️

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