The Sound of Snow Falling (Part One) – Double Hut

“On a Mish” #182 The Sound of Snow Falling (Part One). Double Hut. Hakatere Conservation Area. 6.8.2012. Snow creates an atmosphere like no other. When it is trickling down from above without wind there is a silence created over the land. It is like the falling frozen water absorbs all noises and there is a calming peace that has always been sweet to my ears. On my first trip to a hut that would become one of my favorites, I had the added pleasure of an overnight sprinkling of the cool cold stuff…

My relationship with Hakatere Conservation Park got off to a rocky start. I had foolishly hiked off the map I was carrying and ended up spending a chilly night out under a bush instead of in the hut I was wanting to get to. After getting to know the place better, I started to head to different areas of the park and each time was good enough to drag me back for more. Like on my first mish, this one involved a long walk but, luckily, I managed to find shelter this time.

Winter had rolled around, and I had rolled my way from working on the Routeburn Track, to working at the ski shop in Christchurch. This meant I spent most of my free time exploring the Hakatere area, and I had a massive 60,000 hectares to choose from. Amongst this huge area are many huts dotted around, and each has its own charm.

Originally, I had planned to visit and stay at Manuka Hut, and after setting off from the car park at the southern end of Lake Heron I slipped into hiking mode. My hike took me over the Swin River (I knew that recrossing this would be a cold encounter tomorrow!) to the base of the Taylor Range and then past lakes Seagull and Manuka. Not far from Manuka Lake is Manuka Hut. Even before getting there, I could hear the sounds of many voices in the area. And on closer inspection I could see that the hut was full of fellas out taking care of New Zealand’s possum problem and all of the bunks were being used. I was assured that some space on the floor could be cleared, however I’d rather stay in a bunk instead of the floor. The fact that Double Hut wasn’t too far away had me bidding my possum hunting friends goodbye and retracing my steps back past the two small lakes again in the direction of Double Hut.

Low cloud meant the light faded fast. By the time I got to the Double Hut turn-off it was well into the afternoon and my legs told me I had had a big day on my feet. I trudged my way up to the hut’s front door, and like with most new huts, I slowly opened the door wondering what I would find inside. Beds, a table, and most importantly, bunks to sleep on. My big hike along the base of the Taylor Range had taken me from a full hut to having a hut to myself. I could spread my gear out and get myself sorted before heading outside to collect firewood.

While gathering wood for a fire I got a chance to take in the atmosphere. The elevation gave me a great view of Lake Heron and the mountains of the Arrowsmith Range beyond. Low cloud prevented me seeing the tops of the mountains so I had to use my imagination, and I also knew that I would be back again to see what the clouds were hiding.

After darkness took over the area I retreated to the warmth of the hut, and eventually jumped into my sleeping bag. As I began to drift off to sleep the temperature plummeted outside. There was a brief period of heavy rain, and then I began to hear the ‘sound’ of snowfall outside…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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