One Long Night (Part One) – Upper Ashley River Camp

“On a Mish” #356 One Long Night (Part One). Upper Ashley River. Lees Valley. Canterbury. 29.10.2022. If you really love doing something, then it is amazing what you will go through to partake in the pleasurable pastime. When I was younger, I played Ice Hockey, so to play I had to learn to deal with the cool air in the rink. Some sports go on no matter what the weather is doing, and it can be the same sometimes when out on an adventure…

Many times, I have been mid mish, and the weather has taken a turn for the worse. This has led to several battles with the elements that have really tested my love of going into the outdoors. After a couple of weeks of no missions I needed to get away, little did I know that my night out camping was going to be one long night out indeed…

Pre-Storm Cloud Magic

The frustrations of an injury can be compounded when treatments seem to be going nowhere. It can be even more frustrating if the treatment is painful and still doesn’t give you the results you require. I had had multiple steroid injections into a couple of disks in my spine, and while the procedure did cause extreme discomfort, it didn’t achieve the desired result. Now with another round of back injections on the horizon I knew I needed to get out and about just one more time before being confined to the couch.

A quick check of the weather forecast revealed a rather ugly picture. A front was pounding the West Coast and there weren’t many places not getting drenched by heavy rain. After an extensive search of the South Island I was surprised to found an area that wasn’t going to be getting any of the rain that was hitting the rest of the country… or at least that’s what I thought.

The Lees Valley, northwest of the city of Christchurch, is a gem of a place. Hidden away by the foothills of Canterbury, the semi-remote valley is a gateway to some of Canterbury’s best hiking. I had been into the valley a couple of times before, so I knew I was in for a treat, and after several adventures up the Townshend River, on this mish I wanted to go somewhere different.

On one visit to the valley, I had travelled to the entrance of the Upper Ashley River and to where the Youngman Stream Track begins. But on that mission, I was forced to rethink my plan due to heavy rain and I have always wanted to return for round two. Also, with more injections on the cards I wanted to know that if the worst happened at least I got to go on one last mission. So now with a location locked in and a car full of camping gear, I set off towards the Ashley Gorge and the road into the Lees Valley.

The impressive Lees Valley Road is worth a visit on its own, as it weaves and winds its way through the mountains. Slow and steady was key as taking a wrong turn could mean a huge drop down into the Ashley Gorge, and as exciting as that would be it wasn’t a ride, I was willing to take! After the gorge I was into the open plains of Lees Valley and now, away from cellphone coverage and stress, I was ready for a mish, however I had no idea how much of an epic this mish was going to be…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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