Woolshed Creek Hut (Winter) – Part Two

“On a Mish” #61 A Winter Wonderland (Part Two). Woolshed Creek Hut (winter). Hakatere Conservation Park. 11.7.2013. I always feel the added difficulty of snow when hiking is rewarded with the views. Thrashing your way through deep drifts means everything is going to look incredible wearing its winter coat. Extra clothing is essential, but I look at the added weight as another part of the challenge of a winter mish…

Clear skies and very cool temperatures in the morning created huge icicles which glistened as they hung from the hut like Christmas decorations. It was cold enough outside that the condensation I had created inside the hut with the heat of the fire had frozen in thick blobs on the windows inside Woolshed Creek Hut. My breath was thick in the air and it was obvious that at some stage the fire had gone out.

I had hiked to the hut with my father a few years before and knew an early-ish start was going to be needed as I planned to take the same route as we did on that mish. Instead of heading out via the same way I would make the trip a loop and hike out via the knee testing Rhyolite Ridge Track which climbs high on to the western faces of Mt Somers(1688m).

Leaving the hut was a difficult start to the day, as I had worked so hard to keep the cold at bay and was going to start my mish crossing the semi frozen waters of Woolshed Creek.

After a clean up it was time to face the day’s challenge, first of which was slipping into my semi frozen boots. The snow overnight had completely filled in my steps from the day before. As I sat on the bench outside the hut I noticed that my footsteps from the day before had vanished during the night. It was as if I had been flown into the hut, there was no sign of my arrival at all.

As much as I enjoyed the incredible snowy environment, it was now time to head home and to get there (the car park) I had some very frozen ground to cover.

As I crossed the swing bridge over Morgan Stream Gorge I questioned the weight limit of the structure. A thick layer of fresh snow had frozen on the bridges surface adding a lot more weight to a bridge that has weight limits! Thankfully the bridge held both my weight and the extra weight of the snow, and after safely crossing I continued on towards my goal.

The Rhyolite Ridge Track drops down to and then follows an unnamed creek which needed to be crossed. By this stage my boots were near-on fully frozen from a mix of crossing the first creek and continuously hiking in the snow. Crossing the little stream did little to thaw my icy footwear.

I finally got out of the forest and climbed my way towards the high point of the track, and with each difficult step the views got better and better, and the snow got deeper and deeper.

The uphill battle finally came to an end near ‘The Bus Stop’. Not a real bus stop, more of an overhanging rock on the track which I’m sure a bus has never stopped at!

After hiking over the open fields on the southern side of Mt Somers the final part of the adventure was wandering down the Rhyolite Ridge zigzags. Here the track drops quickly down to the car park, and on the lower sections I saw patches of track free of snow. This was the first time I had seen the track’s surface not covered during the entire mission.

Once back at the car park I saw that I had parked in the shady side and my car had about a foot of snow on it. The final challenge of the mission was to remove the vision-impairing layer of ice, which left me with very cold hands! As much as it stung my fingertips it had to be removed before I could drive back home to begin to dry out.

A short, sharp and sweet outing into a winter wonderland with an epic hut to stay in. I would have been greedy to have asked for more!

Snow covering Hakatere Conservation Park

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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