The Erewhon Stage (Part One) – Mt Potts(2184m)

“On a Mish” #166 The Erewhon Stage (Part One). Mt Potts(2184m). Hakatere Conservation Park. 5.6.2015. Sometimes the world’s beauty goes unnoticed. Many outstanding sunrises / sunsets aren’t appreciated and knowing this incredible spectacle isn’t being ogled at builds an urge to get outside inside me – meaning if I don’t go on a mish soon I will explode! I have been lucky to be in the position to head to the hills of Hakatere most winters and during the early stages of the 2015 winter I hiked to the ‘Erewhon Stage’ to watch over awesomeness and more…

The twin peaks of Mt Potts(2184m) always make for a good reflection photo in Lake Clearwater on a calm day. The two mountains easily dominate the view west across the large lake, as the much bigger peaks of the Main Divide behind the high peak of the mountain shrink with distance. At any time of the year the peaks are a beacon to people who enjoy standing on top of uplifted land. It is only an hour and a half drive from Christchurch to Lake Clearwater Village and then another 20 minutes or so to get to the base of the mountain.

After a few missions to the Erewhon Park Ski Area and beyond I decided to have a go at climbing Mt Potts(2184m). Knowing it is a bit of a climb from the Mt Potts Hakatere Road I decided to get a head start on the mountain with an awesome campsite near the base of the peak on what I would call ‘The Erewhon Stage’. The last time I was on a mish in the area I saw a flat spot perfect for a tent or two, which was also near a mountain stream at the entrance to the Erewhon Park Hanging Valley.

I knew the spot I was thinking of would be ideal , only problem was I wasn’t there yet. So all my camping kit went into the car, and I headed deep into Hakatere Conservation Park.

The Upper Rangitata Valley

I had a hike less than an hour or so from the road, and because the approach was so short I threw in a few extra goodies for the multi-night mish. I might as well make myself comfortable when I can.

I drove through Lake Clearwater Village late afternoon, and after parking the car at the base of the zigzag track up to the ski area, I set off on my mish very excited about the next 40-ish hours.

The adventure started with a slow grind up the track due to a foolishly heavy pack, like I said ‘you might as well be comfortable when you can’. Eventually I got myself up to the epic location I had thought of on a natural stage at the lip of the hanging valley overlooking the many braids of the upper Rangitata River and the mighty peaks of the Two Thumb Range.

A helpful positive to the mostly forest free, barren Canterbury Mountains is plenty of good rocks to help with setting up a good basecamp. After pitching my tent I built a perimeter wall for extra wind protection and to hold my tent in place. Next came the kitchen for which I constructed a sheltered cooking ledge just perfect for my camp-cooker. I had met the requirements for an epic couple of nights and all that was left was watching and getting myself comfy.

My weather forecast for the next day was 50/50 to say the least, as Nor’west showers were forecast for the area. After creating my mountain home I kicked back and thought that, even with the chance of rain this was a thousand times better than sitting at home.

I enjoyed the extra items I had stashed into my pack and after an excellent meal of hill climbing nutrients I retreated to the warmth of my sleeping bag and dreamed about sights and summits.

My early-ish start the next morning wasn’t quite how I planned it in my head due to a thick layer of cloud swallowing all visibility. I seemed to get a feeling of claustrophobia due to not being able to escape the fog blanketing the mountain. It is eerie being in such a huge area and due to the clouds distances become totally messed up.

The visual inconvenience slowly broke as I enjoyed the warmth of a campsite coffee brewed in my new kitchen. As I sat and sipped I began to feel the mountain motivation (plus caffeine) flowing through my veins. After breakfast I gathered my mission gear and began my assault on Mt Potts(2184m)…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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