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May 2014 Issue
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Pigeon Post May 2014

John Langley wins a Lowe Alpine Kamala Jacket.

Praise for positive project

I took out a subscription to Wilderness earlier this month and, on receiving the March edition, was surprised to see a recognisable photo and the accompanying article by Mick Abbott on The Old Ghost Road (Out There, March, 2014).

Naturally, anyone would find favour with something that is generally complimentary about their efforts, but  my real gratitude and appreciation is that Abbott insightfully understands that these things, and particularly projects of such a large scale, take a massive effort and in our case is driven entirely out of our own spare time and therefore at considerable ‘life cost’. Perhaps for us the greatest payback is when people like Abbott visit, appreciate the effort and the great outdoors we have on offer.

I would like to thank Abbott for visiting, congratulate him on his article and for being so positive about a well-intentioned project.

Phil Rossiter, Chairman, Mokihinui-Lyell Backcountry Trust

Dramatic licence

Pat Barrett’s article ‘Rescue mission down the Hokitika’ (February, 2014) was a good read. As someone who has been roaming the various Hokitika River headwaters since 1971, I can identify with tales of challenging country and weather.

I wish to point out that there appears to have been dramatic licence taken regarding when tracks were last cut and huts last used prior to the December 1977 trip described. For the record, the Hokitika tracks between Bluff Hut and the Whitcombe Junction had been cut in the late 1960’s. There were some nasty slips to negotiate between Serpentine and Junction huts by 1977 though!

Frisco and Serpentine huts had been visited more recently than the 15 and 20 years ago suggested in the article. Deer cullers were using these huts up to and including the 1971 shooting season. After the ground-based cullers were pulled out and before Barrett’s December 1977 visit, the occasional NZFS employee and tramper visited these huts.

– Glenn Johnston, former NZFS employee, Hokitika

Nightmare at Woolshed Creek Hut

I consider myself to be pretty laid back and it takes an awful lot to get me worked up and angry, but a recent overnighter to Woolshed Creek Hut in Mt Somer’s Conservation Area, was unbelievable, to say the least.

What started out as a leisurely hike for my partner and I to celebrate our fourth anniversary soon turned into a nightmare – a wide awake one.

Getting in at about lunchtime, we chose our sleeping spot in a 12-person bunk room – little did we know who we would be sharing with: a couple and their two babies, the youngest being about 12 weeks old and the other about 18 months and not yet walking.

The hut was chock full of people and dinner time was a hive of activity. By about 9pm everyone was settling down for a night of rest with people on the floor, under benches, on the balcony and some in tents.

Without a word of a lie, we were woken about 15 times during the night. It was a never-ending process which involved a period of babies moaning, crying, lights on, ssshhhing from their mother and sometimes feeding.

In the morning, not even an apology.

I know these huts are there for all to enjoy, but to take such young children to a popular hut just defies logic. To us, it was incredibly selfish, ignorant and arrogant. I never took my daughter to stay overnight in a backcountry hut when she was a baby. You just don’t do it in consideration to everyone else staying there.

– Dean Williams, e-mail