When the weather turned to crap on October 28th, we abandoned our plan to summit Steven Peak in the Tlupana Range and turned our eyes to something much closer to home: Heather Mountain.
You may be surprised to read that I haven’t done this common south island hike, but the long logging road approach never really appealed to me, when there are so many other objectives on our list that don’t require 15 kilometres of walking on hard, unaesthetic logging road. However, earlier that week, I caught wind that the gate might be open and sent Phil a message about the possibility. Rather than walk through the downpour of rain on an unknown route on an unfamiliar mountain, we decided to make an easy day of it.
We got lucky! Indeed, we did find the gate unlocked. Even better, we found that a kind soul had brushed out the upper sections of the old logging road, creating what I’ll refer to as an ATV track to the end of the road.
Total Distance: 4.8km
Starting Elevation: 1053 Em
Maximum Elevation: 1346 m
Total Elevation Gain: 392 m
Total Time: 2h 12 m
Because we were able to park above 1000 metres elevation, the hike itself was incredibly short, not even three hours–hardly worth the whole day we had planned for our original hike. However, even in the pouring rain and blistering wind, the hike was enjoyable. It’s a lovely hike with minimal to no bush and low alpine meadows, following a maze of boot tracks to the summit.
It was well before noon when we got back to the vehicles, so to extend the day we stopped off for a beer and lunch in Duncan. And this is how I ended up in a restaurant enjoying a beverage and some bites, with a great group of friends on a sunny afternoon. Yes, that’s right: by the time we arrived in Duncan, the skies were blue and not a drop of rain was falling. Oh well, I’ll hit up this peak another time with my children.
As for the ATV track that made the trip so easy, that was the real adventure of the day. In the highest elevations, the road is rough. Rick and I each made it through the terrain to the bottom of the trail, but in the process of doing that, I knocked the kayak racks off (recovered with minimal damage), ripped off my antenna (ordered a new one on Amazon), cracked my bumper, and busted the right turn signal wide open (second time this year).
Gosh, I love hiking.
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