Searching For Snow (Part Two) – Manuka Hut / Mt Somers Range

“On a Mish” #81 Searching For Snow (Part Two). Manuka Hut / Mt Somers Range. Hakatere Conservation Park. 3.7.2018. Snow is a very strange substance that falls from the sky. Unlike rain, snow is something that has created its very own sports and places to play in the form of the many ski fields that are found around the world. Slipping and sliding down snow can put a smile on anyone and it will bring out the inner child. While ski fields are very cool, nothing beats shredding an untouched snow face of fresh fluffy powder. During the winter of 2018 I wanted to repeat the heli-skiing experience I had had the year before, but I was going searching for snow without the help of a helicopter…

Early-ish the next morning I jumped up out of the warmth of my sleeping bag and flung the door open hoping to see a white world covered in pure powder snow. Forget snow to low levels, there was barely any new snow on the high peaks in the Mt Somers Range!

Not the start I had hoped for and as if to rub it in another bout of drizzle began.

I didn’t let this spoil my day in the mountains of Hakatere, so after breakfast I headed out with the same intentions of searching for snow in the Mt Somers Range.

I had some ground to cover before I reached the slopes below Peak 1572m, and as I hiked the cloud finally let me see the vast surroundings. I followed a ridge which overlooks Finger Stream and at times it felt like the snow line was lifting as fast as I was hiking!

Eventually I got to the top of Peak 1572m and this was as far as I wanted to go. I paused for a snack and as I took in the surroundings any grumbles about the lack of snow disappeared due to the epic view. An excellent part of hiking is that unlike hunting when not bagging an animal seems like failure (for some), success is found just moving around looking at stuff. My original plan of searching for snow hadn’t produced what I was looking for, but I did find what I was after in a good view and I positive the benefits of a good roam about the hills.

I knew that I would eventually have to head back to the hut so I plotted a course and then let gravity pull me downwards.

From the top of Peak 1572m I followed the ridge above Finger Stream down to a point above the network of trenches dug out by glaciers of the past. The ice left the area a very long time ago and along with the trenches there are also many lakes dotted around the place. From my viewpoint I could see two of these lakes, Seagull Lake and to its south was Manuka Lake. I knew this area well but had never seen it from above. I took a few moments to enjoy the sights before I dropped down to the west branch of the Stour River.

After a day out in the mountains it was good to get back down to shelter and warmth. With the embers still glowing from my morning fire I managed to get flames going without the use of a match or lighter. Another item to add to the list of success!

The evening turned to night and unless someone was making their way to the hut in the dark I was very lucky to have the hut to myself both nights of my mish. I have hiked to this hut in the past and it was packed full of people and I had to hike to the next hut in the area to find shelter. Looking at the hut book I could see that the place isn’t empty very often as it is only around 2 hours walk from Castle Ridge Station. I would highly recommend it as a good mish for the family or first time trampers.

On the final morning it was looking like the rain was going to return to re-wet the hills again. I reluctantly stepped out of the warmth and into the beginnings of another wintery storm.

Not exactly the snow covered mish I had planned, but a couple of days out in the mountains (even if the weather is less than favourable) is still doing the thing I love to do. And I also think my snowboard enjoyed the walk to and then into the mountains above Manuka Hut!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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