The Lock In (Part Two) – Black Hill Hut

“On a Mish” #114 The Lock In (Part Two). Black Hill Hut. Oxford Forest Conservation Area. 10.7.2012. My love of winter has led me to some awesome spots. A snowy sanctuary can make some magic memories that will stay with you forever. Sometimes I have forgone the comforts of human kind and used my tent, and then other times I have taken advantage of the excellent collection of huts we have here in Aotearoa. Well built and warm when needed, the huts are an awesome option to have when on a mish. With some being on basic bivouacs they do have the odd feature which is a little bit different to your average home. One particular thing is the fact that the door locks can be secured from the outside and if you are not careful you could trap someone inside…

The hike alongside the Townshend River is a good warm up for the grunt up Black Hill to the hut of the same name. The time I decided to visit the hut I had deep snow to deal with, and with the added weight of my pack I had earned a sit down.

After a classic uphill battle with the white stuff I arrived at the hut which, to my surprise, was half buried in snow. I didn’t really have the energy let alone the tools to deal with deep snow. Luckily someone had dug out the hut’s entrance and all I had to do was unlock the door and walk in. I would use the very same lock that would cause an issue in the near future.

I had the hut to myself until just after dusk and had got to the point where I just assumed I had bagged the hut for myself for the night. As I readied myself for sleep a fella from Oxford stumbled in out of the dark. He looked a little worse for wear which was probably exactly how I looked when I had got to the hut a couple of hours before.

We had a yarn as he warmed up by the fire, and as he was a local he knew a lot about the area. He told me he was on a hunt and had underestimated how long it was going to take him to get up to the hut. Been there, done that. I felt like we had a few things in common and would have loved to have chatted longer but the day had caught up to me and it was time for me to retreat to the warmth of my sleeping bag.

Early-ish the next morning my hut mate was up a lot earlier than me and he simply sorted his gear and disappeared into the predawn darkness. The commotion had stirred me enough to think about my own mish for the day so I got up not long after he left.

I enjoyed a coffee and breakfast beside the fire as chunks of snow slid off the roof, hitting the ground with a thud each time.

At this point I hadn’t been outside yet and when nature called I reached for the door so I could make my way to the hut’s longdrop toilet. The door only opened a faction and I was shocked to find that it had been latched / locked from the outside! My new friend had locked me inside Black Hill Hut!

I managed to escape using a small window. As I squeezed my way through I was cursing at the moron who had locked me inside. A bigger person would have been completely screwed and would have had to either wait until another person showed up or smash one of the hut’s windows in order to escape.

After freeing myself from my unexpected mountain prison I cleaned up and then began my journey down the hill. Of course I latched the door behind me but I knew that there wasn’t anyone in the bloody hut! I was wondering if I was going to run into my new friend and have some ‘words’. I never did see him again.

There was no time for grumbling as I needed the energy to get me back to my car, and thankfully the wander back down the valley was an instant visual distraction. Once again the magic of winter had done its thing and I marvelled at the natural ice sculptures and icicles created by the mix of cool conditions, lack of sun and extreme frost. In places I would kick the frozen grass and a powder of ice dust would be dispersed into the air, glittering in the morning sun.

I saw my car and knew that my mish was nearly over, and it was nearly time to remove my icy boots. Back in the warmth of my car it was time to reflect on the mish – my battle with the snow as I headed uphill and the comfortable stay I had had in the tiny hut on Black Hill. And then there was the fact that someone had locked me inside the very same bloody hut!!!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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