Raging Wind (Part Two) – Heather Jock Hut

“On a Mish” #67 Raging Wind (Part Two). Heather Jock Hut. Whakaari Conservation Area. 7.5.2010. The weather is a free show on offer and sometimes the episodes can be very exciting. I have always been fascinated by the weather and up until this point the roughest I’d seen had been while working on the Routeburn Track. On a mish to Heather Jock Hut in Whakaari I was really going to see the definition of ‘Raging Wind’…

The wind had gone from woe to go in a very short amount of time. Only a couple of hours before I had been sitting outside the hut enjoying the mild evening and now I was wondering whether the hut would last the night!

I could hear each gust approaching over the mountains from the west and the rumbling noise gave me time to prepare myself for each blast. The gusts increased in intensity each time and I was about to find out how well the hut had been attached to the side of the mountain.

With the walls rattling I kept telling myself that this hut has been here for well over 50 years and would have seen many storms like this one. Some of the gusts had me questioning the fact that the hut had withstood storms like this before and hadn’t flown away with the wind.

I didn’t sleep much that night and at around 4am I noticed the rain had arrived and the wind had finally calmed down.

The Heather Jock Hut Toilet

Early-ish (only a couple of hours later), I woke up to find the entire area engulfed by a good old Nor’west storm and with the rain coming in hard I knew I was going to get wet on my hike out. After a night like I had had I was keen to escape and get back to the dryness of civilization.

After packing up and cleaning the hut I stepped out of the shelter and straight into the storm. Within a few minutes I was soaked to the bone.

I was happy to have gravity working with me on my journey off the mountain and back to my car. Once back on the Mt Judah Road I looked back up to see that the Whakaari Area and its huts were being hit hard by the storm. I can only imagine what working in this weather would have been a mission back in the day.

Even though I was soaked to the bone, I didn’t care as I only had a few more steps to go and getting wet on the walk out was much better than on the walk in.

I got back to my car and began to remember what it is like to be dry as I changed out of my soaked gear. I also spared a thought for all of the miners who once called the place ‘home’. Their toughness is etched into the area and now can be appreciated by hikers of this era.

On the drive home I was already thinking about another mission back to Whakaari, which showed that the raging wind and rain had no effect on my enthusiasm for the place. But for me and this mish it is now time to head home and dry out myself and my gear. However, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I returned to the area for another adventure. Bring on round two!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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