“A Mish a Day” #217 Huatekerekere/Little Mt Peel(1311m). Mt Peel Forest Scenic Reserve. 24.8.2015. Lets face it, Christchurch is flat. There are only a few lucky ones living in elevated areas like the Port Hills, or the epic locations scattered throughout Te Ara Pataka/Banks Peninsula. A lack of mountains makes you love them even more. As a kid I would get tastes of the flavoursome meal that is hiking amongst the mountains of the South Island, and the hunger for more has led to a life at the mountain buffet. Some of my earliest memories of hiking in the forest, and walking uphill to a view, was from when I stayed in Peel Forest as a little fella.
Standing tall behind the small village is the well crafted pyramid of Hautekerekere/Little Mt Peel(1311m). With well formed tracks making a loop to the summit, the small Canterbury peak offers an excellent day out. After spending two nights at the mountain’s summit on different missions, it was time to use each track to the top as a loop.
The idea came during a stay at my second home (I wish) at the crib in Lake Clearwater, and an early-ish start from my mountain base had me on my way to the start of the track. As my boots crunched the frost underfoot, the change in temperature from the nice warm car, to the harsh winter morning, shook off any remaining sleepiness. I chose the South Ridge Route, and in the dark forest I wandered past the cool rushing waters of Emily Falls. Just before I got above the treeline I hiked into snow from the night before, and after a clear night everything had frozen, making for cautious hiking. The icy track took me out of the forest and into the alpine world, with epic views of the Canterbury Plains getting better with each step. I credit my full shank alpine boots for getting me to the summit of Hautekerekere/Little Mt Peel(1311m), as the snow on the ridge was deep, and I didn’t have my crampons or ice axe. There isn’t much exposure on the ridge, but the little areas where there were kept me on my toes, and had me grasping icy rocks as I crawled my way up the mountain. The nerves disappeared as soon as I got a chance to take in the view from the top, and now the snow was a benefit, as it made the view even better. I could relax now knowing that I could follow the easy Deer Spur Track back down, as this is a track I am familiar with from previous trips to the mountain. The other epic factor to my mission was having the mountain to myself. Even after following the longer and easier track down, I still didn’t see anyone else. Having a mountain to yourself is a privilege that not many people get to experience, and it certainly adds to the epicness of the mish.