Beyond the Hut (Part One) – Hut Spur Camp / Climb

“On a Mish” #34 Beyond the Hut – Part One. Hut Spur(Point 1581m). Craigieburn Forest Park. 20.6.2017. As time goes on the winter snow seems to be arriving later than usual in Aotearoa (apart from 2022!), and 2017 was no different. Seeing mountains stripped bare of all ice in June is becoming more common, and acts as a visual representation of what we (humans) have unfortunately done to our world. Working in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park was a chilling reality check when it comes to New Zealand’s glacial recession….

Many places throughout the park where once a mighty glacier stood, now large terminal lakes or just the crumbling remains of an area once covered in ice in the form of a magnificent flow of frozen block of ice. I have come across a few experienced climbing guides, and their descriptions of the terrain back in the past on some of the routes makes for interesting and sad reading. With no snow on the mountains to ski on, I decided to fill in my free-time by hiking up the Bealey Hut Track. The little hut sitting high above the Waimakariri River is popular during the summer months due to the ease of access, however at this point in my mission career I hadn’t had the pleasure of a trip up to Top Hut / Bealey Hut. I had a look at a map of the area and saw there were excellent camping spots above the hut and as I would always rather spend a night in my tent over a hut, on a campable night of course! With a car loaded with camping gear I left the drone of the city of Christchurch behind me, and headed west towards white snow caps of Ka Tiritiri o Te Moana / the mountains of the Southern Alps. As it was winter I wasn’t surprised to find that the car park was empty, and this meant that I would most likely have the entire 10km spur to myself. Excited and keen to get on the move I set off crunching my way along the frosty ground with my breath visible in the still winter morning air. The hike takes you through the small village of baches / cribs at the base of Hut Spur and I have always wondered what it would be like spending a few weeks in one of the little huts above the car park.

Top Hut (Bealey Spur Hut)

I followed the road through the village as it climbed towards the spur track, then I got on to the well marked track through the beech forest on the lower section of the route. After a solid uphill hike I got out of the forest and into the open, and from my elevated vantage point I could tell this was going to be a mission full of jaw-dropping views (mountain motivation). I got up to Top Hut (Bealey Hut), and stopped for a rest and a look at the historic mustering hut. The basic bunks made me happy that I had brought my tent, however the little hut would have been an excellent plan B had the weather changed. After a quick snack at the hut I then continued on to a camping spot about 20 minutes on from the hut above the treeline at around 1320m. The point when you get to look around and really take in where you have hiked too is a special feeling, and one that I love to get everytime I go on a mish. I got my tent pitched and collected some wood for a fire as afternoon slowly rolled on into evening. Meanwhile the setting sun painted the sky in different shades of yellow, orange and then a deep red before finishing the dramatic display with purples fading into black. This is why I often lug camping gear up mountains!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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