Woolshed Creek Hut (Winter) – Part One

“On a Mish” #61 A Winter Wonderland (Part One). Woolshed Creek Hut (winter). Hakatere Conservation Park. 10.7.2013. To step into a world covered in snow is one of many steps during a real winter adventure. Walking in a winter wonderland. For me personally adding snow makes any mountain environment so much better for photographs. Crisp white set against the natural greens and browns of the land can help a novice photographer capture a masterpiece. Of course you will have to put up with the cold, but at least these days we have all the modern clothing you could need for winter survival…

With the aim of getting some good photos (and also the challenge of an adventure), I decided to hike into Woolshed Creek Hut in the middle of the 2013 winter just after heavy snow had battered the area. The timing for the mission couldn’t have been any better as I had time off work and the weather forecast was for clear skies during the day and maybe a little bit more snow overnight.

My tires crunched through hard snow and ice after turning off the Ashburton Gorge Road which is at relatively low altitude, and on to Jig Road which leads to Woolshed Creek Track car park.

I had hiked the track before, but with snow the adventure was completely different. It was empty as I expected, and I slid my way into a parking spot in the chilly forest. The car park sees little sun during the winter months so there was a definite chill in the air.

I stepped into a foot or so of fresh powder from the get-go. There was much more snow than expected and I knew there would be more the higher I climbed. As I lugged my pack back on my back I prepared myself for a battle with nature’s natural icing sugar.

After climbing up the first part of the track I passed the old mining area and this made me think of the tough dudes who used to work in the area searching for valuable minerals.

The snow got a lot deeper above the old mine. Although it was very cold plugging steps though the fresh snow kept me warm and the stunning sights kept my mind occupied.

I was trudging through snow all day and at the high point (Trig 934m) the snow was consistently knee deep with waist high drifts encountered on the way down. The going was slow but I loved every minute.

The hut started as a dot in a snowy valley amongst the mountains and as I closed in on my target the place got bigger and more inviting with each difficult step.

I wasn’t surprised to find Woolshed Creek Hut empty. Thankfully the Woolshed had a full woodshed!

I finally got the chance to take off my wet semi-frozen boots, and the feeling of free feet after a day in the snow was amazing.

After chopping up a little bit of kindling I got the fire roaring and my wet socks began to steam as the fire began to warm the chilly interior of the hut. It didn’t take long to heat the hut up and I could hear the wood creaking and groaning as it was introduced to the warmth for the first time in a long time.

I had an excellent sleeping arrangement, staying warm on 3 mattresses about 3 feet from the fire meant winter’s chilly breath was kept outside the hut. As if the mission needed more adventure to it, overnight it began to snow again, and this filled in the tracks I had plugged on the journey to the hut. Any signs of my hike into Woolshed Creek Hut were disappearing…

The Final Push to the Hut

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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