Camp Creek Substitution Tramp - Benmore Hut

26-27 August 2017

Early on it was obvious that the West Coast weather wasn’t going to co-operate with our plans to tramp to Camp Creek Hut to enjoy a soak in the outdoor bath. Geoff and Liz were keen to head into the bush to celebrate Geoff’s birthday on Saturday so an alternate had to be found. In the end just the four of us headed into Benmore Hut in 13 Mile Bush for a relaxed celebratory weekend.

With a short drive to Springfield and a 2-2 ½ tramp, the two night people were able to enjoy a gloriously late 9am start from Christchurch. A half hour walk across farmland and a few stream crossings put us on a pleasant bush track which, after a time, left the stream to head uphill to the hut. A GPS check at lunch time revealed us to be a mere 400m from the hut so we had a full afternoon to relax (or so we thought). The unusual A-frame hut was empty when we arrived so we set to collecting and cutting firewood – a ridiculously easy job with the surrounding bush full of the standing deadwood of immature beach trees.

After a boil up we decided to explore a track heading downhill behind the hut. What I thought was a short track down to a stream continued on sidling through the bush until it emerged into the open at the top of a small hill. Surrounded in bush with good views of the Benmore range it was hard to believe we were so close to Christchurch. Geoff’s idea to go off track and circle back to the hut seemed a good idea and continued to seem so as he navigated us down through the bush to the open stony bank of the river. Slowly fighting our way uphill through densly packed young beach trees it began to seem less so however. As it got later and later we began to realise that Liz’s recommendation we take a torch even when accompanying Geoff on a gentle afternoon stroll wasn’t actually a joke after all. We did use torches for the last 15 minutes or so but Geoff’s navigation was flawless and only the dense bush slowed us down (not that that stopped us indulging in a little gentle piss-taking).

Back at the hut we started the birthday celebrations with wine and cheese. The evening was extremely convivial helped in no small part because the cask of wine Liz carried in had only four trampers to share it instead of the original six. The highlight was the fabulous Birthday Tiramisu which Liz created in the hut (complete with birthday candles).

It was a late night and a late start in the morning but too nice a day to not make the most of it. This morning followed another track up the hill towards the Benmore range. This very good track headed steadily uphill until it broke out above the bushline. The wind, which we had barely noticed in the trees, was very strong up here so we just stayed long enough to take some photo’s. The route from here on to Benmore looked very straight forward and beckons a return trip with more time (and less wind).

It was warm and sunny back at the hut but after lunch it was time to clean up and head on out. We all remarked on what a great spot this was, often overlooked because of its location on the edge of “tramping country”. Mostly downhill, the walk out only took 2 hours so there was time for an ice cream in Springfield to top off a wonderful weekend in the hills.

Kevin, Heather, Geoff, Liz. (HH)