The weather forecast was for snow right out onto the plains on Saturday night and Sunday. That limited the options for tramping to the front of the foothills. The Mount Somers area fits that requirement. And I hadn't been to Woolshed Creek Hut for two years so it was easily decided.
Besides, I was keen to see how the new hut was settling in, and also it's always an attraction to me to be in the hills during a big snowfall.
We headed out of Christchurch Saturday afternoon for the drive down and arrived at the Woolshed Creek carpark about 4.00 pm. The final few kms was through snow.
Honora headed off as soon as she was ready to go. I was almost ready to follow when a car came along the track. It was a young couple just coming in for a look. It was as well I was still there as they weren't able to turn their car around with its town tyres. After helping them I was half an hour behind Honora. But that was ok as we'd walked to this hut many times before, and in the dark.
|Snow laden branches hung across the track in places|
Above the bushline the snow was deeper, as much as half way to my knees. But I was wearing my plastic climbing boots so my feet kept toasty warm.
|Darkness fell halfway to Woolshed Creek Hut|
I arrived at the hut just after 6.00 pm. Honora had expected me to catch her along the way so she was concerned at my non-appearance. I hadn't thought to switch on my UHF radio when I crested the last hill before the hut and let her know I was on my way. It was something to learn from.
Woolshed Creek is a very large hut. It has 26 mattresses on platform bunks, in two separate bunkrooms. The common room is cavernous compared to most tramping huts. In fact it's so large it doen't feel like a hut at all to me. But on the plus side it is very well insulated and double-glazed so once the fire was lit it warmed up quickly. And it was great having the hut to ourselves.
In the morning it was snowing gently with no wind, and it didn't even seem very cold. We didn't have anything planned for the day other than the easy walk out so we just had a lazy morning around the hut.
|Woolshed Creek Hut and resident snowman|
The Mount Somers Walkway Society deserve far more recognition for the work they've put in over many years to develop the tramping facilities around this mountain. This hut may have been built by DoC but it would never have happened if it wasn't for their efforts.
I probably won't get to stay in it very often but I do look forward to more weekends, in winter or when the weather's so bad as to keep the crowds away
We headed off at 11.30 and were out at the car park by 1.30 pm. The snow that was falling when we left the hut turned to rain before we were out. The ground was awash with snow-melt water and the streams were rising rapidly
It was an ideal way to spend the weekend with such an unpromising forecast