Participants: Tania Seward, Sarah Inglewood, Mark Brinsden, Rachael Horner, Jeff Ducrot, Anna Larsson, Sam Stephenson, Kate Wootton, Zach Byrne, Jono Dobbs
Dates: 24th – 25th May
Author: Anna Larsson
Photos: Tania Seward
The weather was going to be terrible. The originally scheduled snowcraft session was cancelled, Arthurs Pass was blocked by a rain-fuelled landslide and the forecast said gale force winds and snow down to 800 meters. Plans were suggested and discarded over e-mail, with a river crossing here or an exposed campsite there making most things risky. The ten brave souls who actually showed up in the UCSA carpark on Saturday morning had no idea where the trip was going to take them, or if they would make it back alive.
Woolshed creek hut was suggested and accepted as a place with many route options, and we set off. The mandatory coffee/pie stop on the way took place at an absolutely wonderful bakery in Darfield (recommended). At the carpark, some minor packing mishaps were discovered, but then, who really needs a sleeping bag when you have beer? In shockingly good weather we took the track up past the old coal mines, taking the time to read signs and enjoy the view.
Less than two hours later, we were at the hut. Plans to continue up the ridge to make it to Three Creeks hut were discussed but eventually discarded, as we wouldn’t have made it before dark, and were none too sure of the weather would make it possible to come down the next day. Instead, we had a loooong lunch, and then most of the group headed off to climb boulders through the water caves just up the track. After this, we draped the hut in wet socks and settled in for a night of monopoly card games, chess, tea and mulled wine. We learnt that acceptable birthday presents start at two million, and that hotels can only be built on top of houses.
The next morning, the weather was still fine, but the wind was beginning to get cheeky. Breakfast included a valiant attempt at fresh scones, made slightly more difficult by the fact that someone (definitely not me) had brought a block of cheese instead of butter. But everything tastes good with homemade jam! Part of the group set off to walk out the Mount Somers track past Pinnacles hut, the rest of us stayed in to play a few more games of monopoly. The group split further into those taking the rhyolite ridge track back to the parking lot, and those who first made chapattis and then took the four-wheel track down, reportedly in less than an hour.
By now, the gloom-and-doom weather reports were starting to come true, and the trek back to the cars included elements of snowfall, frozen mud, the kind of rain that feels like someone’s throwing gravel at your face, and a wind that sometimes made staying on the track a bit challenging. Pro tip: grabbing a spaniard to rectify the situation was NOT HELPFUL. But the fresh snow on the mountains and the fast-moving clouds made the whole thing look very dramatic, and everyone came down in tolerable spirits, albeit rather wet.
We picked up the slightly too efficient pinnacles group (who had been waiting at their track end for almost an hour), and drove down to Methven to finish the weekend off with beer and massive amounts of wedges at the blue pub.
All in all, this weekend was a testament to the charms of just hanging out in a backcountry hut, and proved that while there is food and games and good company, the weather can pretty much do whatever it likes.