Freedom Found (Part 3) – Wild Mans Hill(1856m)

“On a Mish” #40 Freedom Found (Part Three). Top Hut / Wild Mans Hill(1856m). Hakatere Conservation Area. 20.5.2016. In the home of the Kiwi you have the opportunity to have a vast area of land to yourself. And even better is the fact that you will be looking at some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet! We sure are lucky here in Aotearoa…

The next day was a reluctant early-ish start from my temporary home in the Upper Ashburton Valley. I had got used to the cosy confines of Top Hut and was looking for reasons to stay. As the sun lit the remote valley I found the motivation needed to get going so readied myself for the hike over the hills home.

I decided to mix things up on the return journey with a north west to south east traverse over Wild Mans Hill(1856m). What seems like just a lump on the map looks more like a mountain when standing at its base. During my breakfast / clean up I had a couple of looks up at the peak and knowing it had a commanding and probably very photogenic position mid valley got me moving with more pace and purpose.

I am a big believer in hut karma, so as usual I left the hut in pristine condition hoping the next rustic shelter I venture to is the same when I get there.

Top Hut & the Hakatere / Ashburton River Valley

A very cold crossing of the Hakatere / Ashburton River is a good way to eliminate any signs of sleepiness, and after the icy crossing I had to pick up the pace to get the feeling back in my feet. Refreshing to say the least!

Steep quad and calf screaming scree led to a saddle between two unnamed streams. At the saddle I got my first view of the Cameron Valley but I still had some going up to go before I would be down in the valley again. Above the saddle was some of the most demoralising loose ground I have ever climbed. Due to the steep nature of the face, in places I would start to slide backwards and if I didn’t keep powering on upward I would undo the effort used to make uphill progress. Why go to the gym when you can climb loose scree! The going was a lot more pleasing once in the snow, and eventually I got onto easier angled ground and I crunched my way up to the summit.

Looking back at the Arrowsmith Range will be permanently logged into the ‘views to remember’ part of the brain. A snow covered Mt Arrowsmith(2781m) standing only slightly taller than its fellow lofty neighbours was overseeing all in both valleys. To each side of the great Canterbury peak were the beginnings of the two massive valleys I had been playing in. It was one of the best highpoints of any mish that I had ever been on. Just like when I was really enjoying Top Hut, I was looking for reasons to stay on the summit.

A reluctant wander away from the Arrowsmith Range and over the large rounded summit took me to ground sloping down to the saddle I had crossed a few days before. I zigzagged my way down and after one last look at the Ashburton Valley I began to descend towards the Cameron River. From above I could see an easier and less scratchy way down which was very relieving as I didn’t want to drive back into the matagouri again!

During the stroll back to the car park I had time to think about the adventure, and even before finishing the mission I was mentally planning a return to the area one day for a venture further up the valley. Hopefully I will have more sun than rain, but if not I know there is a dry and warm place to stay and that freedom can be found in the upper reaches of the Hakatere / Ashburton Valley

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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