Then it went silent outside – Double Hut

“On a Mish” #182 And Then it Went Silent Outside. Double Hut. Hakatere Conservation Area. 6.8.2012. A new location has always been my choice when it comes to adventure, however some places remain ingrained in your mind and a return is a must. Of all the huts I have put in the footwork to visit over the years, one of the easiest to get to still remains one of my all time favourites…

Double Hut sits at the western base of the Taylor Range in Hakatere, and it’s only a pleasant three hour stroll from the Lake Heron car park to the hut’s wooden front door. The hut is full of history, and displays it proudly with musters from the past etched on the hut walls, (along with all the other historic graffiti, including a moment in Sir Edmund Hillary’s life) now preserved on the wooden beams of the small tin hut. I had visited it a few years earlier, and remembered how easy it was to get to. And with rain and the potential for snow in the forecast, I knew it would be easy to escape if the weather got really gnarly.

During the strange winter of 2012, which produced a massive storm during June that blanketed the Canterbury Mountains in a thick coat of white winter gold, I found myself at the Lake Heron car park with very dark clouds starting to consume the mountains in the west. The less than favourable forecast was most likely the reason for the empty car park, which also probably meant I would have the four bunk hut to myself.

I began the journey around the south shore of Lake Heron, and then onto the empty plains east of the lake, the whole time expecting the heavens to open up and show how good my rain jacket really was. I was super lucky to make it most of the way to the hut before the first spits of rain started to fall, and as I burst into the empty hut, the rhythm of the rain on the tin roof increased in speed and noise.

Once again I found myself in the awesome predicament of sitting out a storm in a remote hut, and the extra weight of the luxury food items was well worth the effort. I enjoyed my feed of cheese, crackers and salami beside the well stocked roaring fire, and then everything went quiet outside. I poked my head out the door into the cold dark night, and in the light of my head torch I could see the glitter of snow falling.

It was now time to retreat to the warmth of my sleeping bag, and drift off to sleep to the crackle of the open fire, cosily knowing snow was falling outside the hut. An early-ish start the next day revealed a winter wonderland outside, with a solid ground covering, and more snow falling higher in the mountains behind the hut. After breakfast and an extra three coffees to really warm me up, I stepped outside into the peaceful, snow covered environment.

The difference between the two days was huge, and it really reinforced my belief that the hills look so much better covered in snow. I ploughed a track in the snow from the hut towards Lake Heron, and as the track slowly dropped in altitude the snow turned to mud and slush, and I slopped my way along the rest of the track back to my car and dryness at the Lake Heron car park.

A snowy morning at Double Hut

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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