Top Dog (Part One) – Dogs Range Camp

“On a Mish” #80 Top Dog (Part One). Dogs Range Camp. Hakatere Conservation Area. 28.5.2017. If you stare at a mountain long enough you’ll find yourself wanting to stand on top of it, well that’s my theory. Many times I have been preparing a meal at the crib in Lake Clearwater and gazed at the mountain visa on show. During my time in the area I have managed to climb a few of the hills and as the list of peaks grew, the unclimbed started to look more obvious. It was as if the unclimbed had flags on top of them, and I needed to go and get those flags to become ‘Top Dog’!

For many years I followed the summer / winter seasons in tourism and skiing, and this has left a small window between each season. May became my do stuff month, and with the freedom of time I managed to sneak in some epic outings, a lot of them starting from my little home away from home, and many of the missions were into the Dogs Range. By 2017 I needed a fresh mish within the reaches of Lake Clearwater and somehow the adventure side of my mind pictured my tent on the top of one of the rounded peaks in the Dogs Range. The small mountain range sits between lakes Heron and Clearwater, and although it is only a small group of peaks it offers many missions.

With all of the pieces of the puzzle in place I headed across the plains and spent an evening at the crib getting myself pumped up for a big mish.

Early-ish the next morning I began with a full belly and in need of a good walk to burn off any unwanted calories. The morning was still and cool, and fog lay in many of the small valleys amongst the mountains.

The track took me around the bottom of the lake and into the mounds of grass covered moraine which became a very good representation of undulation.

The weather forecast couldn’t have been any better with the fog getting burnt away by the late May sunshine.

The ups and downs of the worn path took me to a point where it follows the Te Araroa Trail briefly before the climb up to Mystery Lake. I had been to this point before many years ago, and on that mish I was climbing into increasingly deep snow with no real idea of where I was due to the fact I had walked off the map I was carrying. Now, with no snow and full knowledge of the area, I was striding towards my goal with purpose.

I hiked over a small hill which brought me to Mystery Lake, a location that wasn’t a mystery to me on this mish.

The small alpine lake was the last place I could get water before climbing to the tops, so with a climb ahead of me I added more weight to my already heavy camping pack! I figured it was just some training for future missions, and with sweat on my brow I clambered towards my campsite on the top of Peak 1485m.

I got to the junction of the tracks to Boundary Creek Hut and Potts Hut, and I laughed to myself as this is where I should have gone many years ago when I was lost. I was fully aware of my location this time and I wasn’t very far away from my target.

It was turning into a very good mish and was only going to get better…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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