I enjoy hiking, and I do enjoy hefting up a backpack full of gear and food and starting out on a walk up into the mountains. So you can imagine that I felt a bit strange when, barely an hour into hiking up a mountain named after my family, I was bored and wanted to turn back. Mt Hutt was the mountain, and the problem with it was that I was hiking up a gravel road, instead of through forests and on ridgelines like most ascents.
I had first seen signs for Mt Hutt while driving out to Castle Hill, and as soon as I saw them I knew that I had to get myself up that mountain, if only to re-claim it for the Hutt clan. So one Saturday morning I found myself packing up a lunch, throwing my backpack into the car, and heading out onto the road towards Castle Hill… this time with no interest or intent on climbing. Instead, I turned off onto the “Scenic Highway 2”, and started the drive out towards Mt Hutt.
The drive itself took a bit longer than I expected, but soon enough I saw a sign saying “this way to Mt Hutt, 5km”, and so I started looking around for the mountain itself. I had done by due dilligence the night before, researching the mountain looking for any trail information or historical facts about the reason it happened to share my name. Unfortunately all I could find was that Mt Hutt was one of the larger commercial (non back-country) ski mountains in Canterbury, the province that Christchurch is in. So when I was driving up, you can imagine my confusion when I not only didn’t see a ski lodge or chairlifts, but I didn’t see a single ski slope either.
As it turns out, I had accidentally driven to the back side of the mountain. I honestly don’t know how the heck that happened, but as I parked and started walking up the gravel roadway I started to get the sinking suspicion that this was not the part of the mountain that I was interested in hiking up… and this wasn’t really the day to be tramping my way up the mountain anyways. The day was pretty overcast and gloomy, with a bit of rain out on the mountain peak. Never the less, I had driven all the way out to this mountain, and I had no intent on backing out until I had reached the top. As I went further and further on though, the day started getting worse and worse, until finally the rain started falling in earnest, and the visibility started dropping like it was going out of style; where I had originally seen a sharp mountainside with a snake of a road winding up it, now all I saw ahead of me was a dark raincloud slowly boiling over the side of the mountain.
I had packed in my rain gear just in case, but I had almost no interest in using it at this point. I think it was the fact that I could see the road still stretching onwards to infinity in the distance, but for one reason or another I found myself stopped at the side of the road, eating my apple and cheese and trying to make up a reason to head back down. As a general rule I don’t like backing down from challenges, but when I find myself trying to think up an excuse, any excuse, why I should stop doing something, I feel that I should usually listen to my hesitance as a sign, and stick to the safest route. In this case, that meant turning myself around, putting on my pack cover to keep my gear dry, and heading back down the foggy path.
To keep myself entertained though, I decided to try taking a side path down the mountain this time, instead of the gravel road that I had taken on the way up. I found myself a beautiful ridgeline path that started on a small hill, running roughly parallel to the main road, and decided it looked as good as any way to head back down. On the way I saw some rather amazing little sights – a gravestone for someone named Tim Hutt, who I have not been able to find any information on; A small man-made pool hidden in a small saddle between two lower peaks; and many many interestingly named mountain biking trails. The views were amazing, and I was forcibly reminded of how amazing New Zealand looks, especially from the heights of a mountain.