Your Very Own Mountain (Part Two). Mahaanui/Mt Harper(1829m)

“On a Mish” #194 Your Very Own Mountain (Part Two). Mahaanui/Mt Harper(1829m). Hakatere Conservation Area. 13.8.2014. From a very young age both my mother and grandmother have taught me to share. This has led to many adventures with my whanau to all sorts of different locations around Aotearoa. But as I have grown older I have spread my wings and often gone on adventures by myself. These adventures have let me discover not only how massive our wilderness really is, but it has also shown me that I live in a country where we have the option of temporarily having your very own mountain…

The dim light of dawn slowly revealed the wondrous land that is Hakatere Conservation Park. A place of near endless adventure and photogenic vistas.

The mish started easy as I followed the track up to Lake Emily to a point where I turned towards the base of Mt Harper. At the mountain’s base I began to scramble up a steep semi-frozen ridge. Near the top of the ridge I encountered frozen scree which kept me on my toes, literally. Kicking steps into the hard ground was pointless as it was rock solid. On tippy-toes I combined the very tips of my boots with the small bumps on the surface. I have struck this very same situation many times and it never seems to get any less nerve racking. At the ridge’s steepest point I was whacking my ice axe into the ground as hard as possible to help gain any sort of forward momentum.

After getting on more even ground above the ridge I paused to catch my breath and also take in the epicness. Both Lakes (Camp & Clearwater) were now just small puddles surrounded by mountains. A very distinctive snowline meant above was pure white with the odd rock bluff disturbing the colourless alpine world. Below the snowline was a mix of yellow tussock, brown fields and patches of shaded frost. A harsh environment which somehow has a soft beauty to it.

From here my battle with steepness was over, but my progress to the summit would be slowed by another mountain travel foe, which was snow. Deep drifts had to be crossed to get to the summit, and as I floundered my way upward I kept telling myself I was doing a service for the next adventurer coming up this way.

With calves and quads running on empty I saw the summit trig and cairn. Knowing I was so close was enough to get me through the pain of the last patch of snow.

While gasping for air I started to take in the outstanding surroundings. 360 degree views of Hakatere were enough to distract / eliminate any aches caused by the climb. The panoramic views had me wondering why It had taken five years to get here.

With the wind continuing to increase I knew I couldn’t sit around and take in the view for too long, so after a couple of photos I began my quest for the flats of the Lake Clearwater Basin.

My descent was much more straightforward than my way up. A spur led straight down to the Balmaacan Saddle Track, and apart from the odd snow drift I got down without issue. Once down I trotted back down the track to Lake Camp with the joy of success in each step.

With the mish done I was driving back across the plains thinking about where I would go next, but also still digesting the hunger quenching hike up Mt Harper. Mighty Mahaanui provided an excellent day out and I would recommend it to those who enjoy a good slog up a hill. If you are brave enough to venture out in winter you might just (for a day) have your very own mountain…

The Tussock of Hakatere

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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