One Handed Camping – Andrews Valley

“A Mish a Day” #209 Andrews Valley. Arthurs Pass National Park. 21.10.2020. The last time I had used my tent was during the mish when I broke my wrist, and the inconvenient barrier of only having one operating hand forced a temporary stoppage in camping activities. It was only a matter of time before cabin fever would drive me insane, so after a six week break it was time to get back into the mountains for a camp (even with only one working hand)…

Back in August I went on my first solo camping trip since my hip accident in January, and on that trip I ventured into Mount White Station to camp near Andrews Valley. As I crossed over the small bridge spanning Andrews Stream, I got a small glimpse of the flat at the entrance to the large valley on the southern edge of Arthurs Pass National Park. The small look at the valley was enough to entice me to return one day, and that day had arrived. Still nursing a deep tissue wound with nerve damage on my hip flexor means NO HEAVY PACKS! My plan to get around this small issue was to use my extensive collection of packs to my advantage, and spread the weight of my camping gear amongst several packs. Looking like I was going to be joined by multiple hiking buddies, I left Christchurch with nothing but adventure (safe, slow and low impact adventure) on my mind. After 130km I turned off State Highway 73 and crossed the Mt White Bridge. Then I finally found myself in the all too familiar surroundings of pristine wilderness in the form of the golden tussock of the huge Waimakariri Valley, and dark green waters of the mighty river. About ten minutes later I parked my car near Andrews Shelter on Mt White Road, and it was time to go camping! Multiple packs meant multiple journeys, and I didn’t want to travel too far and spend the night worrying about a sore hip. Strangely an introduced beast actually helped me with finding a campsite, as the local cows of Mt White Station had cut tracks through the dense Matagouri, and I followed cow tracks to an epic spot near up-the-valley Andrews Stream. After three missions back to the car, I finally had all my gear in one place, and it was time to see if I could actually put my tent up. To be honest I did have to use my bad hand a couple of times as it is my right hand, and as you probably guessed I am right handed! It did cause some discomfort, but I managed to wrestle my tent into something resembling a tent. With nothing but spare time on my hands (single hand) I could now chill in the environment I have missed so much. After collecting some wood for a campfire, I sat and watched a Karearea/NZ Falcon come screaming out of the forest and dive into the Matagouri, to then return with its next meal grasped in its talons. The day drifted away into night, and as I was retreating to my sleeping bag I turned around at the perfect moment to see the UFO-like line of lights from the SpaceX Satellites.

Early-ish the next day I was up in time to see a stunning sunrise casting a temporary orange glow on the bluff-covered northern sides of Mt Horrible(1234m) and Mt Misery(1765m). After breakfast it was time for the return journey of about 600 meters back to my car, and as I packed up my gear I realised I couldn’t jam my sleeping bag into its bag. This added an extra two trips to the campsite, but it was well worth it for some time camping again out in paradise!

Riverside camping in Andrews Valley

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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