Mouse Mountain – Anti-Crow Hut

“On a Mish” #159 Mouse Mountain. Anti-Crow Hut. Arthurs Pass National Park. 24.2.2015. I’ve always said “the worst thing to happen to New Zealand… it was discovered”. With the discovery of the last lost world, hiding in the South Pacific Ocean, came the destruction that comes with human beings and their vermin friends. On a summer visit to Christchurch I found myself with a spare afternoon, and the craving for a mission to a hut…

A quick check of the map, and I decided on a return trip to Anti-Crow Hut in the Waimakariri Valley. I had visited the cool little hut a few years before and I remembered how good the wander and stay was.

As fate would have it I visited the area at a time when rodent numbers were exploding. The beech forest was in mast, and this meant a massive increase in unwanted pests. As the beech trees dropped their seeds the ‘bad guys’ would show up for a feed.

As I drove into the small car park beside the Waimakariri River I saw a mouse dart out of the bush across the car park. At this stage it was just one mouse in a massive land of mountains. I didn’t think much of it at the time as I got my gear out and ready for another adventure into the wilderness.

Pack on, business time. After a small section of beech forest I headed out across the wide open spaces of Turkey Flat. Mountain motivation was flowing though my veins as I took big strides towards the massive snow-capped peaks of the Shaler Range. It is safe to say I was lovin’ every second of my mish so far.

The simple and very scenic hike took me across the flats to the hut in about two hours. As I opened the door I was happy to see the hut clean, stocked with firewood and in good condition.

I had been there for about an hour when I was joined by an English fella. During many of my missions I have spent the time alone, so it was good to have someone to chat to for once.

I spent my time during the evening collecting firewood, and picking up the odd piece of rubbish. I then headed over the surprisingly far distance to the main braid of the Waimakariri River, where I enjoyed the last of the day’s light.

After sunset I headed back to the hut, and enjoyed dinner with my hut buddy. He was a resident of Arthurs Pass Village and we had a yarn over a few whiskeys.

He told me about what it was like living in the small mountain village during a rodent takeover.

The hut had a small basic mouse trap and after an hour we had already caught four mice in it. We knew with the supply of vermin, if we kept removing dead mice from the trap and resetting it we would have a pile of dead mice ten feet high by the morning. We would be left with a mouse mountain!

I double-checked my food stash, which I had hanging from a hook away from the uninvited guests, and then retreated temporarily to my sleeping bag. I hadn’t even zipped my bag up when I heard the trap snap with another victim, and then I went to sleep to the occasional sound of tiny feet scampering around the hut. It was best to just learn to live with the little buggers, as this was their home now and we were just visiting.

I was up early-ish as I had to get back to Christchurch and also beat the weather. The early rise was definitely worth it as I was treated with a very cool sunrise. Getting hit by beauty first thing in the morning is the best way to start your day. I knew I was going to enjoy my hike home as I stepped out of the hut into the cool morning air, bid my hut mate farewell and made my way back across Turkey Flat as the sky continued to darken with rain clouds. My time dry was going to be limited, and seeing dark clouds gathering is a good way to pick up the pace. I looked back at the Shaler Range for the last time just before the heavens opened up. On entering the forest near the car park I felt the first drop of liquid sunshine and this let me know leaving early was a good idea.

The mish was a quick in and out one, and within a short amount of time I had satisfied my wilderness cravings… for now.

Sunrise over the Waimakariri

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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