Another perfect summer day, so why not go wading 4 km up Basin Creek?
Back Basin Hide, actually a two-person bivvy without a track, was my objective, and what a worthwhile day it turned out to be.
Fortunately, I was finally out of the hut, and just out of sight of it when I ran into Keith and Beth who are coming down from my destination for the day. Keith has had nine trips into the Hige over the last six years, and has just about completed renovating the little bivvy.
They had been in Avoca Hut the night before me, and had gone the direct route over The Tobacco Range that I had decided against. Unfortunately, one ridge they needed to come down had turned gnarly and Weetbix-like, so they had dropped 400 or 500 m into a creek and camped for the night I spent at Avoca Hut.
The next morning they climbed back up to a saddle and had an easier time on the ridge getting to what is officially known as Back Basin Hide, where they had spent the previous night. Now they were heading up to Jordan Saddle, and then down past Bealey Spur Hut to celebrate their recent engagement at the Bealey Hotel. That decision occurred two days before, when they were camped in the gnarly creek.
My response as the first person they told was distinctly underwhelming, as I wasn’t sure I had heard right. It was only when I made it to the Hide and read the hut book that the significance dawned on me. Sometimes I’m just too slow to pick up on such matters.
Despite their over-adventure, they certainly look radiant.
They mentioned a few clues about finding the place.
First, locate the big orange triangle at the base of some scree slope. Then, climb up about 200 m in a small rocky channel before getting out of it, and clambering up in the forest the rest of the way. There were even some orange markers. That sounded pretty doable.
Basin Creek involved a dozen or so crossings, so best not go if rain is predicted, or the creek is running high.
One chamois was seen near the base of the valley just prior to my climb to the Hide. It must’ve heard me on the shingle and presented itself for a look. I saw it coming, stood still, and it just stared at me from about 150 m away, but the wind wasn’t in its favour and it couldn’t make out what I was. It took me moving again to get it to spring to life as it raced up the creek.
The climb didn’t take as long as expected as the 400 m elevation gain is quite rapid. Actually, it’s plenty steep.
The Hide has been beautifully restored by Keith. Due to extreme winds, the windows have plywood shutters that need to be opened up.
Keith and a mate carried rolled-up mattresses in from Basin Hut, plus the big water barrel. That all would have been a ridiculous task, but means the accommodation is now able to be visited with an actual water supply that had been a real impediment to potential visitors as it was, of course, 400 m down for water.
Mattresses also help.
Still, with the hut book going back to 1985, not even halfway used, maybe now it will get some additional visitors.
It is an absolutely spectacular location with tremendous views across the valley.
All in all, a great day out. One of the best.
I’m so glad I visited the Avoca Valley, not realising what I had missed when I cruised past on Te Araroa seven summers ago.