Solving the Mystery (Part One) – Mystery Lake Camp

“On a Mish” #364 Solving the Mystery(Part One). Mystery Lake. Hakatere Conservation Park. 14.5.2014. I wasn’t lost, I just didn’t know where I was?! This is what I thought as I broke a trail in the fresh deep snow alongside a large alpine lake in the Dogs Range. Foolishly I had strayed from my map of only a fraction of the massive 60,000 hectare park with the assumption I would link two separate 4wd tracks. This clearly didn’t happen and on that adventure I had to settle for a bush instead of a cosy hut in the middle of winter. The experience didn’t take away any of the love for the area, and since my little whoopsie I have been on many missions in the mountains of the park…

Along with the fact that I got lost, I also had to work out a mysterious lake that I had walked past twice on my winter wander. The crazy reality is that the lake is ‘Mystery Lake’ and the fact that it sits nestled amongst rolling mounds and hills makes it only visible after some effort. I had already put in a lot of effort without the reward of knowing the area, so before the snow claimed the surroundings for the cold months I loaded my gear and headed for Lake Clearwater Village.

Starting a mish from the crib has been a luxury I have enjoyed many times. Having the first step taken care of – the drive into the mountains from Christchurch – is great. Plus the crib lets you adjust to the wild environment in slow stages as you shed unwanted technology such as reception to the outside world.

As the lake was settled amongst the mounds at the south east end of the Dogs Range, I planned to camp on top or thereabouts. The plan seemed to tick all the boxes as it also included a night before and after at the crib. The first night was very relaxing as I topped up on fuel, before drifting off to sleep to the peace found at my home away from home.

Perfect Reflections on Lake Clearwater

Early-ish the next day I was firing up the gas stove for a coffee in the darkness, followed by a quick breakfast before heading out into the dawn light.

The forecast gave me the day, night and not much more. Knowing the next day was an ‘up and out day’, I took my time getting to the lake. Starting with views of mountains reflected on Lake Clearwater’s still surface is an incredible warm up before the undulating terrain above the lake.

The track sticks to old 4wd tracks that have seen many musters in the past, and now see the feet of many hikers who have come to see the stunning landscape that the musterers would no doubt have loved working in. A visit to the area is a must for any in Canterbury with a spare day or two, but beware – the longer you spend the more you find to do!

After a couple of hours tramping across barren tussock-land I arrived at the track junction I had got to a couple of years before. Then I had no idea of where I was, now I knew everything – plus I had my tent and a snow free environment…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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