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

“On a Mish” #15 The Pile of Bones(Part Two) – Mt Catherine(2085m). Hakatere Conservation Area. 16.10.2015. One of the very few downsides of a camping mish is the need to go, and I don’t mean leave. For some reason as the need to wee increases your sleeping bag seems to feel extra warm and toasty. Luckily after scrambling around for my boots and jacket I firstly managed to get outside before making a mess, and second the morning was a masterclass in sunrises…

The few clouds in the sky glowed red to orange over a period of about five minutes. Definitely worth getting up for, and definitely a powerful morning shot of mountain motivation for the mission.

After an early-ish start from my camp in the Swin Valley I hiked over Point 1098m, and onto the section of the Te Araroa Trail heading towards Client Hill Saddle. The clouds looked menacing in the west, but for now I was hiking in the dry and knew that I could retreat to my camp if things got too gnarly.

I started climbing the east face of one of Mt Catherine’s southern peaks, then slowly made my way up to a spur leading to the South-Ridge of the high peak of Mt Catherine(2085m). The spur started with horrible steep loose rock, which got the quads pumping as I gained altitude via a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ process in the loose terrain. I got to the shoulder of Mt Catherine(2085m), and discovered a huge pile of animal bones, which I later found out were the remains of the deer and mountain goats after a large Heli-Cull in the area. The spot looked like the perfect place for a Pouakai / Haast Eagle to take its victims to be devoured!

The loose scree changed to snow as I climbed higher, and as I started on the final ridge to the summit the wind began to increase. I knew the change in the wind was a sign of rain in the not so distant future, so I had limited time to take some photos of the epic views of the Lake Heron Basin, the Arrowsmith Range, and the snow-clad mountains of the Taylors Range.

It wasn’t long before I knew I had overstayed my welcome on top of the Hakatere giant, as the first drips of rain began to pelt my face along with the wind. I got back down to my tent in time to pack down with light rain falling. Having a tent that has to be put into its cram-sack in a very particular way can be frustrating sometimes, and as the rain began to set in I just stuffed my gear into my pack and bound it all with my pack cover.

With what must have looked like a big blue lumpy sack on my back I set off for the dryer climate of the car. Yet another wander across the tussock covered plains to the Lake Heron car-park in good ol’fat rain, which manages to find every kink in your gortex armor.

I was happy to get back to the car, and then get myself and my soaked gear out of the rain. I really love that moment just before you start the car to drive home where you take a deep breath, listen to the rain falling outside, and then begin reflecting on your adventure in the rain instead of still walking in it!

Lake Heron From Mt Catherine(2085m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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