Sunday, January 28, 2018

Brewster Hut walk: 1km vertical climb and descent

The legs and cardiovascular system haven't really had any sort of workout for a few months. Not since I stopped cycling or doing any high intensity workouts after my last retinal tear and repair. So they needed some serious kickstart. What better way than to walk 2.5km uphill gaining 1000m vertical. You do the math, that's serious steep, with no respite.

Brewster Hut sits below Mounts Armstrong and Brewster, and the Brewster Glacier, on the first piece of flat ground above the treeline, near the headwaters of the Haast River. The track starts just over the Haast Pass at the pretty Fantail Falls, beginning with the fording of the stream, a scramble up the bank, and then the climb begins.

It is a beautiful walk, through beech forest, over tree roots, and upwards. Depending on your fitness, it takes 3-4 hours in total, over half of it in the forest before climbing above the treeline.

Then you continue to follow a narrow ridge upwards, with views over to the glacier and the waterfalls ensuing from it.

The hut is in a spectacular location with views across to the glacier, and to the mountains over the other side of the Haast Valley. Unfortunately there was high cloud obscuring the mountains most of the day, but in the evening they cleared enough to get a good view. I didn't climb higher than the hut because of the cloud cover, but also because I needed to keep some energy for the next day's descent.

Backcountry mountain huts are an institution in NZ and are a welcome refuge at the end of a tramping day. Brewster Hut has become very popular, so now requires booking and paying ahead for a bed in the hut. The facilities are quite good, with rainwater tank, sleeping platforms with mattresses, a kitchen and dining area, outside deck, and drop toilet. And views....

The hut isn't full, but there's a fair few staying, including a family of five, and two people camping in a tent. It's cheaper to camp, but also more effort and weight to carry, so I'm opting for the hut instead.

The next morning it is misty and raining, which makes for a slippery descent. My legs are jelly by the time I at last reach the car park, where I go for a quick swim in the river to wash off the sweat, then change in to dry clothes for the drive to the West Coast.

For my next tramp....

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