A Battle with the Elements (Part One) – Pinnacles Hut

“On a Mish” #148 A Battle with the Elements (Part One). Pinnacles Hut (Mt Somers Track). Hakatere Conservation Park. 17.9.2010. Good clothing will often be the difference between a happy hike in the rain, and an experience you’ll want to forget. Luckily from a young age I have been taught about having the correct layers (forgotten during teenage years), and because of this I enjoy facing challenging weather head on while wrapped in a protective layer / shield of merino and gortex. We are lucky to live in a time when light weight weatherproof clothing is easily available. Before materials like gortex, adventurers had to use things like heavy canvas to stay warm and dry while out battling the elements….

During the last moments of winter before the start of spring 2010, my father Jeremy and I set off across the Canterbury Plains for the rolling hills near Staveley, with the plan of heading to Pinnacles Hut on the Mt Somers Track. It had been only a couple of weeks since the first of what was to be thousands of earthquakes for the people of Canterbury, and we needed something to take our minds off the shaking. It is a great thing that we have the wilderness nearby to work as a distraction and act as stress relief, something needed during those very interesting times.

As we pulled into the car park, we could see signs indicating there was earthquake damage on the track and with all the shaking going on we weren’t surprised. Most of the damage was to the track to Sharplin Falls, and we hoped the main track to the hut had been spared too much harm. Getting all that way and seeing a ‘Track Closed’ sign was a little nerve racking, but on closer inspection the track we were going to use was a little damaged but ok.

With very dark clouds engulfing the sun and a cool wind beginning to lower the temperatures, we pushed on with our mish and climbed the zigzagging track up and over the summit of Dukes Knob(739m). From the top of the knob, we watched the clouds consume the upper reaches of Mt Somers and knew we wouldn’t be dry for much longer. Not long after descending cold rain set in, and by the time we got down to Bowyers Stream there was hailing to go with the skin-soaking rain. Most (particularly those who hate being wet) would probably not enjoy our shivery situation, however we were mid-mish and loving every minute of it!

We came across an overhanging rock that had an incredible curtain of water tumbling over it. To our surprise and pleasure the track went behind the excellent natural water feature and gave us the unique and rare reverse view from the backside of the falls. It might have been cold, but the track provided enough distractions to keep us occupied. From the waterfall curtain the track began to climb up away from Bowyers Stream towards the northern side of Mt Somers, and as we gained altitude the snow started to fall…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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