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August 2017 Issue
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Pinnacles Hut, Hakatere Conservation Park

Sunburst over Mt Somers Range from above Pinnacles Hut. Photo: Pat Barrett
Distance
4.67km to hut
Total Ascent
685m
Time
Car park to Pinnacles Hut, 3-4hr; Hut to Woolshed Creek Saddle, 3hr
Grade
Moderate
Accom.
Pinnacles Hut ($15, 19 bunks)
Access
Signposted at Staveley on the Arundel-Rakaia Gorge Road
Map
BX20
GPX File
Pinnacles Hut.Hakatere Conservation Park (gpx, 17 KB)
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Pinnacles Hut stands in a moderate alpine environment at 900m, right on the bush edge, below the north face of Mt Somers in central Canterbury.

As part of the Mt Somers Walkway, it’s a popular destination being accessible via a good, albeit steep and rough, track from Sharplin Falls car park.

Winter trips in the hills always come at a discount – short daylight hours and a steady feeling of pressure to get to the destination before nightfall. Our trip was no different and so we headed briskly up Bowyers Stream on the riverside track which leads all too soon to the unrelenting climb up and over Duke Knob (720m) to avoid the canyon below. This section is tedious and quickly claimed most of our enthusiasm.

But once over the top and on the easy descent back to the river, our enthusiasm picked up – unlike the temperature, which hovered around four degrees.

Further up the valley, at a new footbridge, we began the final climb out of the river and onto the north-facing slopes, which soon brought us into the sun and above the bush where we could enjoy the view.

Crossing the footbridge over Bowyers Stream. Photo: Pat Barrett

The hut was not far away now, just a few gullies separated us.

On arrival, we had just 30 minutes before dusk – enough time to collect some firewood and take a short wander about the hut before hunkering down for what was a very cold night.

The next day, we headed to the saddle overlooking Woolshed Creek. The alpine scenery here, including the Winterslow and Mt Somers ranges, is magnificent. The track above Pinnacles Hut passes numerous small canyons and through a distinctly volcanic landscape where waterfalls sluice over large blocks into trackside pools.

As the afternoon slipped away, we witnessed a spectacular sunburst over the ranges from just above Pinnacles Hut; the intense light show passed slowly over the ridges, casting them into sharp relief and the cloud banks above into luminous zeppelins.

That night, there was a knock at the door. Surprised, I opened the unlocked door to find a party of inebriated trampers who had walked the track in the dark, quaffing alcohol all the way.

On our return to the car park the next morning, we retrieved a dozen cans, scattered over the track, which I left at their vehicle.

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