my birthday bash
the aim... get to Jubilee Hut and back. Jubilee Hut (built in 2007, sleeps 10+) is situated in the Silver Peaks scenic reserve just outside Dunedin, New Zealand. i have been on this track before, but only as far as the old Green Hut site (about an hour in), where a sign states something along the lines of 'the track beyond this point is for experienced and well equipped trampers only', which is fair enough. there have been several deaths in this area, and all too often S.A.R are called in to help out people who have underestimated the Silver Peaks. the weather can change very rapidly, from sun to complete whiteness (and vise-versa) within minutes... and the wind... wow. the hut itself is around 9km from the carpark (sign says 4hrs 30min to the hut), doesnt sound too far (18km total for the return trip), via the 'Devils Staircase', maybe not as bad as it sounds, it climbs/descends about 400m in 1.5km. anyhow...
i never work on my birthday, i always take the day off, and this year i didnt disappoint myself. it was a Wednesday, so everyone else i know was busy, so i decided to hit this track on my lonesome. i had wanted to go to this hut for ages, but it just never really happened. the weather forecast sounded good (at least it did when i left), i let people know my plan etc, i had made myself a delicious birthday lunch, had a good breakfast and hit the road at 7.30am. over the northern motorway, along the gravel road and i was there, but the good weather didnt really follow. i hoped it would clear as the day went on. i had refreshing start to the track, my pants soaking up water from the wet bush, i ate a few spiders, and had several happy birthday txts while i was walking. the weather wasnt improving though, it was misty, moist and very windy, not a real nice combo. i messaged back for a met service weather update, and as they knew where i was going, i expected quite a detailed report... what i got was... 'its sunny but real windy'... thanks guys... i decided to carry on, i knew this part of the track anyway, it is quite well defined. just aswell i did...
the map... im goin where?
the drive there, good birthday tunes crankin
alright, lets go
as the day went on, it cleared, and i am so glad it did, this place is amazing. i had passed Pulpit Rock, passed the Painted Forest and as i was nearing the top (the highest point a modest 760 odd meters), the views just got better and better. this got me thinking... all this uphill means there must be some downhill coming up, so out comes my hiking pole which i borrowed back off my wife. i got it adjusted up to a nice length, tried it out, each section nice and tight, next minute, bang... $%&@... $%@#*&... the bottom section snaps off, even before i get to the downhill stuff. somehow that section became loose and had dropped down and it snapped at the plastic thread, hhmmm not usable any more, never mind. the pole was pretty much precautionary due to an operation i had on my left hip a year or so earlier, so... carry on. the 'Devils Staircase' was pretty steep, not much of a staircase though, more like a steep hill. from the 'staircase' you can see Jubilee Hut in the distance, that was the destination. i was loving it, what a birthday, the sun was now out, the wind had died, had the best company, a ruggedly handsome, well mannered, funny guy (me, the birthday boy), what more could i ask for? (maybe a super duper special treat might be waiting for me when i get home, we'll see)
hope this clears
grumpy birthday to me
easy goin on this bit
thats gettin better
mmm good views
it was great to finally get to the bottom of the valley, there were a couple of spots on the way down where i lost the track and my knees were starting to hurt, so i was looking forward to reaching the hut. i was getting through the snacks and was really wanting my cheese/tomato/pineapple toasted sandwich, what a treat mmmmmmm. it seemed to take ages to finally reach Jubilee Hut. there are a few stream crossings and muddy/boggy areas to contend with so got there with wet feet, but thats cool, i was feeling good. i only spent about 20min at the hut, had lunch and a quick look around. i wished i had bought gear to stay the night, this place had a good feel to it, another day off work would have been nice too, oh well.
i quite like this type of terrain
100m to the hut, time for lunch
made it, the halfway point
the journey home was rather uneventful, pretty much the reverse of getting there, except the sun was out all the way back. i worked up a nice sweat on the 'staircase', my heart rate was through the roof, but i was enjoying it. i was making good time and when i looked at my watch i had been going for close to 7 hours, including all my stops. i decided i wanted to reach the car before the 7 hour mark clicked over so decided to double time it. i came in at 6hrs 59min 25sec, i was happy with that. my legs were sore for the next few days, but hey... worth every minute.
this has got the lungs burning
birthday with a view
just in the nick of time
happy birthday to me
i have some other photos posted on my facebook page (brendan w jones). there are photos of other trips too if anyone wants a look, thanks