You’re Not Going Anywhere – Stuck at Lake Clearwater Village

“On a Mish” #340 You’re Not Going Anywhere. Lake Clearwater Village. 14.7.2022. On a few occasions I have been fortunate enough to be happily trapped in a wild location due to the weather. Every time this has happened it has been on purpose or due to work, so I have had the pleasure of watching the weather do its thing from the comfort of a hut or lodge. A 3 night mission to Lake Clearwater Village turned into success and with a ton of wonderful winter pictures it was time to get back to Christchurch, however this was going to be a little bit more difficult than expected…

A couple of times I have attempted to get myself ‘trapped’ by the weather at the tiny alpine village that sits between lakes Camp and Clearwater. I finally got to achieve my dream when a significant weather event hit the country and I parked myself up at the crib in the village and watched just over 40cm of snow float down from the heavens. At one stage the flakes were the biggest I have ever seen. The entire area was buried deep and I was in one of the only cribs with life still surviving inside. A walk in the storm followed by a walk in the post storm magnificence made my time fly by and now a couple of days later I had put the last of my clothing and gear into the car and was ready to hit the long road home. My mission was made possible by having the use of my old man‘s X-Trail 4WD, as my normal ride into the mountains was getting work done for a WOF. I didn’t expect to head away at all, but since the old man was such a good bugger I could live out a fantasy that I dreamt about for years. The first job before heading away was to clear away the foot plus of snow that covered the top of the vehicle. Once that was done and the engine was warm I locked up the crib for the last time and said goodbye to paradise until the next time. The car was parked in a small dip so I wasn’t surprised when I slipped to a spinning stop on my first attempt to crest the small hill and get onto the road. I backed up to get more speed and on round two I got a little higher up the hill but still slid back to where I started. The problem with this round was how much snow had built up behind the car on the two attempts to get up to the road. As I slid back for the second time, the car managed to pile the snow up underneath it and this led to me being stuck in a pile of snowy ice blocks. This wasn’t how I planned my morning!

Mahaanui / Mt Harper & Lake Camp

I headed back to the crib to search for something to dig the car out with, and the best I could find was a piece of the crib’s old deck. Just after I started to dig I bumped into one of the only other people in the village and he took one look at my car and said “You’re not going anywhere!”. He said he would happily tow me out, however due to the very cold morning temperatures, he said he would let the sun soften the snow first. As far as places to be stuck go, Lake Clearwater is a very epic place to be stuck, and this gave me the opportunity to wander around the village and take in the snow covered visual masterpiece. Around an hour and a half later I trudged my way through the snow back to the car and with the snow now a lot softer my new friend was able to drag the car out of its icy prison. Handshakes were exchanged and then it was time to get out of paradise and back to the real world. The snow was still thick on the road and I only passed one car on my way out. As I lost altitude the snow thinned to nothing near Mt Somers Village and it was just out of the small town that I came across a pile of road cones and signs. As I weaved my way around the signs I realised that the entire Ashburton Lakes area had been closed off to the world due to the snow. This made me even happier as I had really achieved my dream of heading up to Lake Clearwater Village and becoming completely isolated from the rest of the world, and with everything going on at the moment it was the best way to reset and recharge before tackling the next challenges that come my way…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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