Magdelan Hut, Lewis Pass

20th & 21st August

Magdelan hut is a small 6 bunk hut so we limited the group to one car load. The four of us left around 8.20 and arrived at the Boyle outdoor centre a couple of hours later. We chose to leave the car in the outdoor centre for safety and searched around for the caretakers to pay our fee. Eventually they surfaced and we were surprised at the abuse and insults from the male caretaker as we approached. Luckily his partner was much more hospitable and treated us to a cuppa and biscuits. We learnt that there was somebody living in the hut on a semi permanent basis but no others planning to go to Magdelan. It was no guarantee as others could have parked in the main car park or be coming in from the opposite direction. Keith had retained the club gear from his previous trip so we had a tent just incase.

The weather was clear but a little chilly as we set off on the relatively easy tramp into the hut. There was snow on the peaks but only the occasional patch on the ground. The track is easy to follow as it’s the St James walkway.

The weekend trip was the first overnight trip for a potential new member, Andrea, so Keith, Norman and myself agreed that a detailed evaluation of the new member would be required. The usual criteria would be considered such as willingness to carry other people's gear, tea making, breakfast in bed, free snacks and nibbles etc, etc. Keith will be submitting a full report to the committee.

The track was relatively flat so we made good progress and eventually caught up with a large mixed scout group. We shared the lunch spot on a grassy flat near the river but did not linger too long due to the cold. Fortunately the scouts were off to the much bigger Boyle flat hut.

Keith led the way and followed the "new" yellow triangles instead of the traditional orange. These led us onto the river flats and a minor detour back up the bank to the walking track. There is a shorter route to the hut if you cut across the Boyle river but, as its winter and we were in no hurry, we carried on to the swing bridge and back along the opposite bank to the hut.

We arrived at the hut to find a rifle and other hunting equipment around plus a couple of horses tethered near the hut. These belonged to Sean, who was working on the tracks. The DOC area manager was also staying and had bought his wife, daughter and dog to the hut for their first overnight stay. With 4 of us we were already seven people. We decided to put up the tent but then Sean volunteered to go to his tent as "it was not his home" and he would have plenty more nights there. So we all had a bunk. We dropped our gear and went off looking for the old huts which Keith had visited with a four wheel drive club many gears ago. No luck, we could not find them but when we got back the new loo had a large concrete patio...which turned out to be the base of the old hut.

The tent came in useful as another couple of trampers arrived.

Marion unfortunately had to back out from the trip but had prepared a sumptuous meal for us. Keith added a special touch to the rice when he accidentally poured Normans port into the pot! After the meal we spent the evening chatting with Sean and the doc ranger. We were advised to organise a trip to the newly renovated Stanley Vale hut. Put that on the list Kerry.

Sean leads an interesting life and told us he has spent about 3 months around the area marking out horse riding tracks...the yellow triangles. He restocked his supplies by riding the horses into Hanmer which allowed him to carry a decent load.

A full hut, a hot dinner and a fully stocked woodburner transformed the hut into the Magdelan sauna for the night....very warm!! The doc ranger disappeared to sleep outside because it was way too hot.

The next morning we considered a round trip along the St James to Boyle Flat hut but the promise of a full roast lunch at Boyle lodge was too appealing so we had a steady walk back to the lodge. We arrived back at the lodge to more insults from one caretaker but made up by a nice cup of tea and biscuits from the other. No roast lunch!!

Our group was: Tim Hines, Keith McQuillon, Norman Burdon and Andrea Goebel. With special assistance from ‘caretakers’ Nick and Marg.