The Pile of Bones (Part One) – Mt Catherine(2085m)

“On a Mish” #15 The Pile of Bones(Part One) – Mt Catherine(2085m). Hakatere Conservation Area. 15.10.2015. The visually stunning area encompassing the Ashburton Lakes is always well worth a visit. From easy day walks, to demanding mountaineering peaks, the place has it all. A little bit of time studying maps has revealed small pockets of potential. Of the many days I have spent going on adventures in Hakatere, I have rarely done the same mish twice…

One place that I have been to many times either solo or with friends / family is Double Hut. The little tin hut has seen many days and served as a mountain shelter for a long time. From the base of Mt Taylor(2333m) the hut looks down to Lake Heron, and beyond the lake are all the giants of the Arrowsmith Range. Since I had already climbed Mt Taylor(2333m), and also a high point on The Fingers(2016m) I decided to venture further west.

Parts of the track to Double Hut double as sections of Te Araroa (New Zealand Trail), and climb over Clent Hills Saddle near Mt Catherine(2085m). With the pieces of the puzzle falling into place I decided to have a look at Mt Catherine(2085m). Over the years I have camped in this area a few times, but never in the same spot. I had a rough idea of where my Mt Catherine(2085m) basecamp was going to be, and now it was time to check the weather.

With a forecast of patchy rain for the first day, then heavy rain developing on day two, I drove towards the mountains from Christchurch wondering if I would get a chance to do some alpine scrambling. A grizzly grey and black sky greeted me when I got to the car park at Lake Heron.

En-route to the Swin Valley

I hiked from the car park up the trail to the Double Hut/Clent Hills Saddle, and from the track junction I headed up into the Matagouri covered Swin Valley. A low cloud drizzle was making its way across Lake Heron towards my camp, so I had to set up my tent quickly to avoid getting soaked so early on in the mission. I managed to beat the weather and then I spent the afternoon ducking in and out of my tent avoiding spells of rain.

Chilling out in my tent with light rain falling outside is a very relaxing way to spend the afternoon, and at one stage between showers I poked my head out to see an excellent rainbow. The rain cleared just on sunset, and I went for a mini mish up a ridge behind my campsite to get a better look at the Lake Heron basin.

After retreating to the warmth of my sleeping bag with a bellyful of mountain tucker, a midnight bathroom break was rewarded with a star filled sky with absolutely zero light pollution. Nothing matches a good snooze in the complete silence of the wilderness. Apart from the odd flutter of the tent in the breeze, the night was silent and I got some needed sleep before heading higher into the hills of Hakatere…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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