Raging Wind (Part One) – Heather Jock Hut

“On a Mish” #67 Raging Wind (Part One). Heather Jock Hut. Whakaari Conservation Area. 6.5.2010. There are reasons why only the hardiest plants grow above the treeline in Aotearoa, and to witness one of the main reasons is both exciting and also a little bit scary. Putting yourself in a location to witness the wild weather is very cool as long as you are in a safe place. But sometimes you question whether the weather is out to get you…

My role as a guide on the Routeburn track had led to not only an introduction to Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks, but also the weather that can rage when a storm rolls in from the west. Walking in wind so strong it knocks you down is rather exciting, and knowing your next stop is safe and dry makes the experience very enjoyable. I love to sit in a hut that has stood its ground for many years and listen to the wind whipping its way around it.

After each guided walk on the Routeburn or Greenstone I’d look at all of the hiking potential in Whakaari Conservation Area, located just out of Glenorchy. The mountains above Glenorchy used to be buzzing with the activity of miners, searching for the valuable mineral Tungsten.

The huts and buildings the workers used to work and live in have been restored after a lot of work, and now acted as shelters for hikers keen to explore the fascinating hilly area.

Tractor at Bonnie Jean Hut

I found myself with some time on my hands during May and I wanted to check out a hut in the area. The post summer and pre winter is a strange time of no work for people who have summer and winter jobs. If you look at the dates of my missions you will see heaps of trips are during the down time between seasons.

Knowing the area was covered in huts to stay in I had to decide on which hut to visit first. I picked Heather Jock Hut as my first because of its 3 hour approach and its location looked extremely epic!

The weather forecast was for stormy weather overnight, but at this point in my adventure career I was still thinking that I was invincible after a couple of years guiding. With darkening skies above I began the hike up the Mt Judah Road towards Mt Alaska(1965m) and the collection of huts at its base.

With no thought whatsoever of the weather I made my way along the history rich trail, stopping to check out each of the restored huts, buildings and other relics. It was awesome to see some history after years of guiding in places where the history was only a story to tell instead of a building or hut.

A gentle angle of the Mt Judah Road / Track took me up to the first area of huts and then to get to Heather Jock Hut I had a solid grunt ahead of me. I was pretty pleased with my first hike around Whakaari Conservation Area so far.

From the hut’s elevated position I watched day turn into night, and just after sundown I noticed the wind beginning to increase and some clouds starting to roll in from the west.

At this point in time I was kicking back with a sweet smile of satisfaction on my face, and after a good day out I retreated to the warmth of my sleeping bag.

I closed my eyes to go to sleep and as I began to fall asleep a powerful gust of wind rumbled its way up the mountainside and hit the hut with force. I was about to see what raging wind was like when staying at Heather Jock Hut…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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