It’s Better to Tell the Tale (Part Three) – Double Hill / Rakaia River

“On a Mish” #388 It’s Better to Tell the Tale (Part Three). Double Hill / Rakaia River. 12.9.2023. During the last couple of years I have been told by many different people that I might not get back to my days climbing mountains for fun. Denial and determination will say otherwise. Instead of accepting the information I have been told, I have re-jigged my outdoor adventures to suit my capabilities. Also just like me, my grandmother has been told she can’t do this and that these days because of her age. When people tell you that you can’t do something then use that as fuel to prove them wrong…

I was pretty sure that Nanny was the only person in their eighties camping up the Rakaia Valley that night.

Just before retreating to the warmth of my sleeping bag I got Nanny organised in her now very secure tent. Instead of your standard sleeping bag I had set her up with a pile of duvets and blankets so she would be nice and warm.

The last thing I did before heading back to my tent was give her a head torch in case she needed light during the night. Unfortunately / fortunately her arthritic fingers had so much trouble pushing that she decided to just leave it on. This proved to be a vital move as she needed the light a couple of times during the night, and thanks to it already being turned on she didn’t have to worry about needing light.

Nanny didn’t have the best of sleeps on the rocky rubble of the Rakaia so during the hours before dawn I helped her into the front seat of the car and with the seat fully reclined she managed to get a couple of hours sleep before sunrise.

I was up just as the day began to reveal the environment that surrounded us, and this environment was very pleasing to the eyes! As the stars faded the mountains became the stars of the Hakatere mountain show. Luckily photos don’t show a cool wind as the sunrise was a wash of warm reds and oranges which reinforce the importance of an early-ish start. In my mind starting the day with an epic sunrise is second to none. But this sunrise did come with a warning that wild wind and wet weather was about to wreak havoc in the location we had spent the night.

After breakfast we began to pack up and prepare to return to the real world and with every passing minute the wind turned up a few notches. By the time we had left the Hakatere Conservation Park boundary the wind was strong enough for us to put a sail up on the HMS Cr-V!

After rolling east along the Double Hill Road for a while we came to a line of trucks all stopped in their tracks by a road closed sign. Because there is no other way out we were stuck with no idea of what was going on or when we would be on our way again. After about five minutes of waiting I was pondering heading up to the front of the queue to see what was going, but then a large tractor pulled up beside us and the farmer at the wheel simply said “follow me”.

With that we made our way to the front of the line of trucks and then into a track within the farm’s perimeter fence. It turned out that the farmer was taking us through his land and around the crashed truck which was blocking the road. A sudden gust must had caught the driver off guard and his trailer had not only rolled off the road and down a bank, but it had also completely wiped out a powerline pole and the powerlines now lay on the crashed truck. The mess would have taken ages to clean up so we were super lucky that the farmer got us around the blockade.

There was one more stop before we headed home and that was to see the incredible rhododendron garden at the base of the Mt Hutt Range (near the Mt Hutt Ski Field Road). This was a much needed moment of claim before we crossed the plains to get back home.

The team of three knew we had achieved what we had set out to do (Ernie achieves his goals no matter what!), although the story we came back with was much more ‘interesting’ than expected. I am positive that if we had told the powers that we were going to battle the wind, the night and the wind again then there would have been no way we would have been able to go on a mish. Sometimes it is better to tell the tale after the mish is done than asking if you can go on a mish to begin with. Awesome job Nanny, you’re a bloody legend but we knew that already!!!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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