Hawdon Hut Mid-Winter Celebration

10-11 July 2010

Geoff Korver drew the short straw as chief cat herder for our festive trip.

Meeting and travel arrangements were too complicated to go into, but suffice to say that Geoff—clutching excel spreadsheet—managed to get all 21 of us, plus gear from various parts of Christchurch to the car-park near Mt White bridge in as few cars as possible. Everyone was in high spirits and why not! We were off on a lovely tramp up the Hawdon Valley with good company, lots of lovely food and drink, and clear blue skies! Insults were flying already, even before we set off walking—especially between the Keith & Tim comedy double-act. Tim with his usual relish of telling embarrassing stories, admitted that he’d forgotten his boots on a previous trip—then Keith realised with horror that he hadn’t transferred his and Marion’s boots into the traveling car (well he nobly took the blame anyway)! Luckily for Keith, two pairs of spare boots were proffered and gratefully accepted (and amazingly they were the right size – thanks to the Bourke & Britain Car Boot Footwear Emporium).

We headed off up the wide Hawdon Valley and while we stopped for lunch we saw four young lads approaching. It turned out they were the advance party of 12 scouts and leaders! It was going to be a cozy night (32 in our 20 bunk hut!).

Yvette shocked the group by stopping to take her still-dry boots off to cross one stream—this initiated some discussion as to whether it constituted an offence worthy of being excommunicated from the PTC (dis-member-ed?). We eventually got to the old hut-site with its sad sight of burnt piles still visible, then up the narrowing valley to the lovely new hut, arriving at 2pm, so we had lots of time for food and party preparation.

Some of us decided to take advantage of the glorious afternoon and walk further up to a viewpoint where you could see across to Walker Pass and stunning views of pristine white slopes and deep blue sky. We edged along the sides of the track, which was a frozen stream in places, and passed a rock-face covered with icy stalactites. If we’d had a bit more practice we could have got a good tune out of them.

As it was, the sun was going and it was several degrees colder at the top! We returned to a now-warm hut to start on the snacks and pre-dinner drinks. Everyone produced their “Christmas” pressies for the santa sack. Sue B stepped in as Santa (since he is away on his hols at this time of year). There was a huge array of snacks and appetisers, followed by beef and mushroom casserole, mashed potato, cabbage and peas, followed by fruit sponge pudding, custard and cream! Drinks were shared around—hot honey mead, ginger wine, whiskey mac, kahlua (wonderful on the pud) and lots of wine and beer.

After dinner it was pressie time. Sue organised a cunning double-blind, random number system so we all had a turn to pick a present out of the sack or steal someone else’s that was already opened. The plastic toboggans donated by Gary and Margot proved especially popular and were appropriated by Hines M and Hines T! The piggy vacuum cleaner and NZ yodelling compilation CD caused much mirth; in fact most of the presents were suitably frivolous. Once some of the mess had been cleared away, Kerry got out several kilos of song-sheets he’d carried in and several of us sang our way through the ones that we could remember! The others chatted or drifted gently off to sleep to the melodic strains of our beautiful voices (or something like that!).

We made a late-ish start in the morning, after lots of clearing up to leave the hut spic and span. There were lots of river crossings, so soon we all had wet boots—even Yvette, who had redeemed her standing in the group by letting Jane trial her Aarn pack! We all regrouped for lunch on a shingle bank in the sun a mere ten minutes from the cars. The lucky few with toboggans tried them on a frosty slope. Tim didn’t quite get the hang of it but managed to slide quite a long way even without the toboggan. Some went to check out the high-school lodge nearby for possible future use and then we all met at the Yellow Shack Cafe in Springfield for the usual cuppa before saying our goodbyes. What a great weekend—lovely weather, fine company, glorious scenery, modern cozy hut, and tasty food. Thanks to all for making it a great success, but particular thanks to the cooks, Mary K, Jane S and Sue W and to Geoff K for organizing the rabble—it can’t have been easy!

We were:

Brian & Mary-Jane B, Sue B, Mike B, Tim & Mary H, Gary H & Margot B, Geoff and Mary K, Kerry M, Keith & Marion M, Jane S, Yvette S, Joy S, Chris L & Graham T, Colin W, Sue & Stan W. (MH)