Mountain Beech Vibes – Sudden Valley Camping

“On a Mish” #240 Mountain Beech Vibes. Sudden Valley Camping. Arthurs Pass National Park. 9.1.2021. When I go on adventures I have no problem going alone. Even though I have some quality friends, I am quite happy in my own company. The consistent goal I have for most trips is to be away from other people. To me true wilderness is when you can’t see anyone else or anything that reminds me of humans (apart from a hut and track markers!). And after seeing humanity’s nasty side a few days ago in the US I was keen to spend some time in nature to remind myself we all live together on a pretty special planet, and the birds aren’t into politics!

Recently I have had to think outside the square for places to camp that are within my current capabilities, and also remote enough to satisfy my outdoor cravings. I have rediscovered Arthurs Pass National Park, and its proximity to Christchurch means less time driving and more time exploring. The remains of a low pressure system caused some messy weather around the South Island, and the best I could do was a chance of afternoon showers in the Hawdon Valley. The Hawdon River flows into the mid Waimakariri River, and the plains of Mt White Station have been the beginnings of a few of my most recent missions.

The normally quiet Mt White Bridge was buzzing with the activity of a group of kayakers, and from the bridge I drove another 5 minutes to a spot near Hawdon Shelter / Campsite. As per the norm lately I had my gear spread over two packs. So now with my first pack on I headed into the Hawdon Valley. My original plan was to head to a spot about 2 kilometers up the valley, near a stream flowing down from Woolshed Hill(1429m). I planned to camp there because I was attempting to avoid wet feet, but within 2 minutes of walking I came to the Hawdon River running against a bluff, and into the river I went. With my original campsite now on the opposite side of the river I decided to check out the entrance to Sudden Valley. I had been into the valley a few years ago, and I was sure I could find an awesome spot. After crossing the river I realised I wasn’t alone, with a family of hikers on my heels. They turnout to be one of many groups heading up the valley to the spacious Hawdon Hut. I veered off left from the Hawdon River and pushed on towards the Sudden Valley. Once at the valley entrance the problem wasn’t finding a spot, it was which one from the many excellent places do I choose. I decided on an area on the forest edge, up on an old river terrace. With everything under control I headed down to Sudden Stream for an afternoon swim. As the afternoon rolled on into the evening I saw a few more groups heading up the Hawdon Valley to the hut, and the last group came past just after 8pm!

Looking up the Hawdon Valley

An early-ish start the next day was rewarded with the sight of a couple of Red Deer trotting along the riverbed. As I packed up my camp I realised that I hadn’t seen any signs of the forecasted showers, a rare time that the weather man Dan was wrong. Two trips later I had all my gear back at my car, and looking across the Waimakariri I could see lenticular clouds forming, a sign of rain. I had timed the weather perfectly, and after a cleansing night in the mountains I was ready to get back to see what else was going on in these crazy times we all live in!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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