Where’s My Head Torch? (Part Three) – Black Peak(1989m)

“On a Mish” #38 Where is My Head Torch? (Part Three). Black Peak(1989m). Whakaari Conservation Area. 10.5.2010. Sometimes we learn the hard way and in the wild that can be a tough lesson to get through. Whether it be forgetting the toilet paper or gas canister, a simple mistake can lead to big problems down the track. Now an important fact to remember is humans can’t really see in the dark and we have modern tools to get around this right?...

I fumbled around in my day pack for a few seconds before I realised that I had left the small bag with my head torch and other electronic stuff at the hut! Nice going Marky, you have got yourself into another ‘interesting situation’.

I only had one option and that was getting back to the hut without the aid of a head torch. I got going as quickly as possible and luckily the track was wide enough for me to scamper along at a good pace. I stuck to the track I was on after I climbed back down from the summit and I thought It was the one leading back to the hut, but I was incorrect. In total darkness I arrived at the DoC sign on Long Gully Saddle and I was happy in a strange way to realise my big mistake in night navigation.

Ok, I wasn’t at the hut, but now I could follow the orange track markers to safety. In the darkness I carefully made sure I didn’t lose the trail of waratahs with their orange beacons of hope perched on top. I was extremely happy when I got a glimpse of the hut in the darkness.

Sleeping that night wasn’t an issue and after a victory feast I had a smile of sleepy satisfaction on my face as I drifted off to sleep very quickly.

Early-ish the next day I woke to the sound of wind outside the elevated and exposed hut on the side of Mt McIntosh. I knew there was a change coming at some stage that day and I didn’t want to sit around and find out it was earlier than predicted. I packed up and made sure not to leave anything behind as after the head torch incident I didn’t trust myself anymore!

Now sure I had everything including my head torch I hit the track with the intention of making my mish a loop.

The first part was retracing my steps back to Long Gully Saddle and on the way I saw the track I had mistakenly followed in the darkness. Now just another tale to tell, I continued on my way towards the climb of Peak 1342m. The track to the summit follows one of the most gnarly bulldozed tracks I have ever seen. The dude at the machine’s wheel must have been rather brave!

After climbing the small peak I was on an undulating ridge leading me towards Chinamans Flat.The ridge gave me awesome views of Lake Wakatipu and also back to Mt Judah and then further around to Mt McIntosh and Black Peak. It is funny to think the me of the past had no idea he was going to be stumbling around in the dark wondering where the hell his head torch was!

I surmounted the final minor peak on the ridge and dropped down quickly towards the Glenorchy Road. The track bursts out onto the road abruptly and within seconds the sound and rush of wind of the cars, buses and vans slaps you back into reality.

I got back to the car and was looking forward to a big drink of water and sitting down for the first time since leaving the hut many, many hours ago. The sky above me had changed and I was happy I bet it back to the car. As I began to drive home I started to relive the dark part of my adventure and began to realise things could have ended badly on the side of Black Peak in the middle of the night. After that experience I have never had the situation of wondering ‘Where is My Head Torch?’

Wawahi Waka(Pigeon) and Matua (Pig) Islands and Lake Wakatipu.

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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