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(Jacko Flat Hut looking up to the North face of Mt. Alexander: Photo Andrew Buglass 2007)
Jacko Flat Hut and the track to it from the Crooked
roadend are fully maintained currently.
Crooked River catchment. Map BU20. Grid Ref:
E1487860/ N5270715. Altitude
415m. Jacko Flat Hut is located on the TL of the Crooked River at the top end of Jacko Flat.
The beech covered slopes around the Flat rise rapidly to sheer rock
on the Northern face of Mt. Alexander. There are two gorges in the lower Crooked valley
and the terrain is rough underfoot. Upstream of the Hut the River is more benign and rises at a gentle gradient to its headwaters.
The Crooked has always been a fairly low-use valley, with visitor numbers declining further
in the 90's and 00's when the tracks were left unmaintained for a lengthy period.
DOC started regularly recutting them again in 2009, with the last lot of maintenance taking place in 2015.
Crooked valley access is up the old Rotomanu - Kopara Road, which turns off
Bell Hill Road just after Puzzle Creek. The road is rutted and scoured out in places,
but marginally OK for 2-wheel drive. A sign on the
upper gate warns users that the landowner accepts no responsibility for any problems with vehicles.
The gate has been padlocked in the past, but is open currently.
The lower gate is padlocked at night and the key is available from the house down the road.
The Jacko Flat track starts behind the Kopara Reserve sign adjacent to the piles of the old Crooked River
bridge. It climb/ sidles around the first gorge for an hour or so, then drops back closer to the River and
follows the terraces to just past the Morgan River confluence.
There is a short stretch of boulderhopping here before the track re-enters the bush.
DOC have done some disking in a couple places on the TR here, however fording is unnecessary,
and wouldn't be possible in any case, if the River was up.
track re-enters the bush at the start of the Second Gorge
and climb/ sidles along some steep faces above the River. The terrain is uneven and rocky underfoot and
after an hour or so of sidling
Jacko Flat comes into view. The track drops gradually to the River and poles mark the route from here along the Flat.
There is a short section of track
from Jack's Creek (unnamed on the Topo Map) up to the Hut.
The Hut is in a grass clearing surrounded by small hardwoods, 20 metres from the River. Allow 4.5 - 5.5 hours
for the trip up from the roadend. DOC
are looking at doing a chainsaw windfall run along the length of the Crooked River valley in March of this year.
The track to Top Crooked Hut from Jacko Flat
is up the TL of the valley. The tracked
sections were recut in by DOC in 2009, and they were going to do a windfall run this autumn just past. The
first section passes through fairly open beech forest, followed by a couple of short riverbed sections mid-valley.
The Department has disked a route up one of the river channels, and this
can be used when the River is at normal flows. If a ford weren't possible, then a bush-bash on the TL would be required.
The track emerges in the head of the valley and there is another 15 minutes or so of boulderhopping
to the Hut. Allow 2-2.5 hours from Jacko Flat Hut to Top Crooked Hut.
The grass clearing surrounding Jacko Flat Hut should still allow helicopter access.
Jacko Flat is a standard NZFS SF70 six-bunk design with an open fireplace built in the 1960's.
There is a toilet. Water is
from the River.
Jacko Flat Hut Should be in reasonably good condition. It was repainted and resealed
by DOC in the summer of 2003/ 4. The iron cladding interior of the fireplace has rusted through at the bottom and needs
replacing, although the fireplace is still safe to use. The floor is starting to sag a bit also. The Hut will need
some remedial maintenance in the medium-term.
An old NZFS track up Jack's Creek onto the Alexander Range
no longer exists in any useful form, although the occasional bit of permolat can still be found. It is
necessary now to follow the Creek and there are a couple of waterfalls that need skirting in the lower and mid sections.
The upper Creek is reportedly an unpleasant scrub-bash.
An entry in the Jacko Flat Hutbook describes a trip down from the Alexander Range tarns taking
seven hours, although the party concerned had plenty of stops.
directly opposite Jacko Flat Hut has been used on occasions to access the Lake Morgan tops and
Lake Morgan Hut. It looks OK on the map, but accounts
in the Lake Morgan hutbook describe an extensive and difficult alpine
scrub band with bluffs from 700-1100m. Although it is further, it is
probably quicker and less hassle to continue up the main
valley track and use the maintained tops track opposite Top Crooked Hut.
Patching or replacement of the iron at the foot
of the chimney will be required at some point in the medium term. Some underfloor work
or leveling may be required longer-term, and perhaps some repiling.
There are three billies, a pot,
a large camp oven, an aluminium
wash basin, a large plastic water container, an old NZFS food drum with a bit of food in it,
a fish slice, an axe, two brooms, one spare broom handle, heaps of permolat,
seven old perspex louvre panes, and a hearth brush and shovel. There are odds and sods of timber under the Hut.