Following Sir Ed (Part One) – Mt Taylor(2333m)

“On a Mish” #5 Following Sir Ed (Part One). Mt Taylor(2333m). Hakatere Conservation Area. 10.9.2015. Mt Taylor(2333m) is a Canterbury Mountain that should be on most adventure seekers’ lists. Standing over two thousand meters in height, the mountain is the tallest in the Canterbury Foothills. There is a small reminder of Sir Edmund Hillary’s climb of Mt Taylor(2333m) inscribed on one of the walls of the historic Double Hut, located just south of the peak. Along with Sir Ed, many others have followed his footsteps across the Lake Heron Basin towards their objective…

For my mish up Mt Taylor(2333m) I decided to get a couple of steps ahead of the normal climb from the very comfortable Double Hut, by camping up the Swin River’s South Branch. A quick check of the weather put a smile on my face as there was only the sun icon for the next 2 days, then the weather was deteriorating into a nor’west storm.

Before all of this I had to travel across the repetitive dairy farms that cover the Canterbury Plains to get to the small car park on the south shore of Lake Heron. Back in familiar territory, I have hiked across the barren paddocks of Castle Ridge Station on many occasions, and yet the place always fills me with excited anticipation of the next adventure.

To walk in the footsteps of one of the most legendary humans in this small country in the South Pacific fills your heart with pride, and with the sun gleaming off the snow on the tops I knew I was in for a treat.

I got to the historic Double Hut and gave a quick salute to the memory of one of New Zealand’s favorite sons and then proceeded to cross and recross the refreshing water of the close by Swin River until I got to a perfect little flat area just begging to have a tent pitched on it.

I really love the first moments after finding an appropriate campsite. The goal has been achieved and as you set up your temporary home the feeling of success begins to flood the body and mind, just like the water in my boots after crossing the river. Within a few minutes I had my little orange tent up, and it was time to soak in the atmosphere of the Upper Swin River.

The steep sides of the valley containing the river took the sun away early. The chill in the air made it obvious why there are areas of permafrost in the small valley during the cold months of winter. It was cold but it was the middle of winter, so was what I expected.

I had my dinner down by the river, which conveniently had a good rock to sit on and enjoy the view of the Taylor Range and the mountain I was going to climb, while I enjoyed my feed. I would be needing the fuel the next day so I ate as much as I could.

A small moon meant plenty of stars, and as the glow of the day’s sunlight faded in the west, the sky began to reveal its sparkling masterpiece. I took one more look up at Mt Taylor(2333m) before retreating to the warmth of my sleeping bag and then drifting off to sleep to the soothing sound of the Swin River.

Early-ish the next day I was up and on the move in the low light of dawn to make the most of the day. I was extremely happy with the very accurate weather report of clear skies. I was refueled and ready for battle and all that was left was to follow in the footsteps of the legendary adventurer who came here many years ago. Time for a mish….

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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