Walking to the Crag & Canyons with Ian 'Entertaining Adventures' Middleton.
Now don't get me wrong, I love a good walk - whether it's with the dogs, wandering to Guest Services at the adventure park to purchase another 10 uplifts, or sobering myself up on the way back from the pub. But sometimes placing one foot in front of the other can be a little dull. So when an overnight trip to Woolshed Creek Hut situated the Mount Somers Track was suggested, the adventure cogs started turning. After a quick bit of research it was discovered that the hut is conveniently located near several climbing crags and canyons, and so began the epic walking weekend.
On a clear Saturday morning with heavy packs strapped to our backs stuffed with ropes, harnesses, wet suits and overnight gear, we began our walk. In the spirit of keeping this particular activity to a minimum, we diverted off the Miners Track and joined up with a 4x4 track that led us directly to the hut. It saved us about an hour without sacrificing the spectacular views over Hakatere Conservation Area.
Woolshed Creek Hutt services up to twenty-six people, with communal bunk beds and a large living area. It was deserted when we arrived. Our bags were dumped down, beds' shot-gunned and naive hopes raised regarding how awesome it would be to have the place to ourselves. While sat on the front deck in the sun, we discussed which crag to climb at. We chose Gecko W, which also happened to be the closest. Fifteen minutes from the hut, the ugly lump of rocks ticked a lot of boxes for the spread of climbing abilities within the group. Most of the routes sit in the sun and there are plenty of spots to lounge around and cheer/jeer on fellow climbers from the ground.
Tired and hungry, we returned to a very busy hut. I don't do well with busy huts… (but that's another story for another day).
The following day was reserved for canyoning. After much deliberation, we opted for Woolshed Creek Gorge… for reasons that should be obvious by now. It began with a committing abseil into a chest-deep pool, which pretty much set the tone for the following few hours. Although not long in length, it crammed a lot in, with multiple waterfalls, high-walled narrow sections, and occasional suntraps to warm up in – the latter was important as the water is cold and as I quickly came to learn, a $70 wetsuit (from a place not renown for quality) is not sufficient… I should have learned from Rocky by now, ‘Buy once, buy quality, make it last’.
Once the gorge petered out, it was a long scramble over boulders, slide down waterfalls and trudge through endless streams until we made it to the car park. But hey, at least we weren't walking.
Written by Further Faster Ambassador and general all round great guy, Ian Middleton.