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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 forest surrounds on the Flat rise rapidly to meet the sheer rock
walls of the North face of Mt. Alexander. There are two gorges in the lower Crooked valley
and the terrain is rough. 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 unmaintained for a lengthy period.
DOC recut the access tracks in 2009 by DOC and again in 2012, so hopefully this trend will continue.
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. There is a sign on the
upper gate saying 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 Crooked valley track starts behind the Kopara Reserve sign next to the piles of the old Crooked River
bridge. There is a moderate amount of tree fall from the 2014 storms currently, making the track difficult to follow in places.
Dave Garlick spent a couple of hours clearing markers and cutting the smaller branches, but didn't make much of a dent.
There is a section of track on one of the river flats that has been washed out.
Kopara Reserve sign the track 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.
The track drops into the riverbed here for a short stretch.
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 where poles mark the route along the Flat.
There is a short section of track
from Jack's Creek up to the Hut. This is the large side-creek, unnamed on the Topo Map, that drains
the Alexander Range and enters the Crooked
at the top end of Jacko Flat.
The Hut is in a grass clearing surrounded by small hardwoods, 20 metres from the River. Allow 4.5 - 5.5 hours
from the roadend to the Hut. The track is in good condition currently.
The track continues up the TL of the valley from Jacko Flat Hut
to Top Crooked Hut.
It was recut by DOC in 2009, cleared again in 2012, and was still in good condition in February 2014.
At the time there were a dozen or so small windfalls, and a few short sections where the track had
been taken out on the River's edge. There is likely to be more windthrow however, from the storms in April.
The track passes through fairly open beech forest intially, and there are a
couple of riverbed sections further up. DOC have disked a route up one of the river channels on the first of these, and
this can be followed at normal flows. In flood conditions parties would be forced into the bush.
The second river section is also fine-weather only and would require a bush detour if the River was up.
The track re-enters the bush at the top of the second River section
and continues the the bottom end of top river flat,
just downstream of the Hut. Top Crooked is another 15 minutes up the flat on a low river terrace
and is visible from the riverbed.
Allow around 2 - 2.5 hours to Top Crooked Hut from Jacko Flat 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 and 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. There are a couple of waterfalls that need skirting in the lower and mid sections,
and the upper Creek is reportedly an unpleasant scrub-bash.
An entry in the Jacko Flat Hutbook decribes a trip down from the Alexander Range tarns taking
seven hours, albeit with plenty of stops.
directly opposite Jacko Flat Hut has been used on occasions to access the Morgan tops and
Lake Morgan Hut. It looks OK on the map, but accounts
in the Lake Morgan hutbook paint a less happy picture. They tell of an extensive alpine
scrub band with bluffs from 700-1100m. 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. The track in to Jacko
needs a bit of serious chainsaw work to clean it up.
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 sodds of timber under the Hut.