It was an arduous journey into my chosen campsite. I bypassed the solitary hut and ascended the steep ridge to the tops with a heavy pack. Three hours later had me reaching my first waypoint.
I had with me my Hennessey hammock instead of my usual tent for this trip, mainly due to the fact that my eventual destination was in very steep country and would be unlikely to afford me a place to pitch it, also it was about time I used this bit of gear. I have owned it some years now and it has only previously seen one outing
Unfortunately I was still very much on the tops when I decided to camp for the night so left ole Hennessey asleep in the bottom of the pack , and just decided to bivvy the night instead I awoke the next morning to a coating of frost atop my bag.
I rolled over and lit the primus and waited for it to boil whilst still snugly wrapped up in my feathered tomb. I lay there watching the early morning unfold , I was above the densely misted valley bottom looking across the divide at my equally clear mirror opposite mountain range. Everything was still in deep shadow, with only the slightest hint of gathering light emerging over the distant ridgeline to the east , heralding the dawn of a new day. It is a great time of day lazing away the early moments with the anticipation of the scalding tea to come and even breakfast too before stirring the stumps and reluctantly leaving the cozy nest
My gear was packed and I was ready to move out at 0830hrs. The plan was to sidle just above the bush line for an hour. Next there was a steep inlcine climbing away from the bush edge that I had to climb to reach a saddle which would permit me entry into the next watershed. The sun was gaining strength on my back all the while and the sweat was beginning to flow, finally I was in the saddle and able to scan the whole headwaters of my chosen piece of country I sat down and bisected the area with my binos for a likely place in which to set up my camp. I could see immediately that water would be a problem, for the nearest creek was about a fifteen minute walk from where I proposed to string out my hammock in the trees.
Never mind I mused, it doesn’t seem as if I have any choice anyway I shall just have to fill up my water bladder and make the repetitive journey for water. I slung my heavy pack atop my shoulders and made the long arduous journey through the tall wavering tussock and scrub meandering across the huge amphitheatre of open tops.
Two hours later I was at my proposed campsite and set about making it my temporary home. A brew, and a bite to eat. I then filled up the bladder in the stream and then stretch out in the tussock and glass the basin for any sign of game for the rest of the afternoon. It was so relaxing to rest my weary muscles and stretch out in the sun kissed alpine grasses, alternately sleeping and glassing the vast open country.
Some time later I was brought to my senses by some rock fall to my rear, I swivelled round to witness two chamois cavorting down from the heights, seemingly playing a game of tag. They ended up with tongues rolling and gasping for breath around 160yds from my position blissfully unaware of my position. Camp meat was high on the priority at this time and it was with these thoughts that had me rolling onto my stomach and laying my pack infront of me before resting my .308 atop it. Picking out the nearest animal I then laid the duplex reticle on her shoulder and squeezed off the shot. She raised her front legs into the air and fell sideways as the 130 grn Barnes found it’s mark. The other animal was in full stride and making good headway up the nearest scree, with hardly a backward glance he was soon out of sight.
In due course I wandered over and retrieved my meat, it was a good start to the trip.
Later that night the heavens opened and rain fell with monotonous regularity on my flimsy shelter. Around three in the morning I had shipped a couple of inches of water in my hammock, due to the fly not being properly centralised. It was a cold and wet hunter that greeted the mist clad moist dawn
It had been a long cold wet night and a decision had to be made, my sleeping bag was saturated, and by the way the day was shaping up, it was unlikely I was going to be able to dry it out. I hung around until 10.00 hrs. I then finally made the decision to call it day and head on out.
I decided instead of traversing through the waist high soaking tussock, to head for the tops via various screes. I headed high into the weather and the visibility deteriorated accordingly. I lived in that peas soup for the rest of the day, before finally making the hut at 1740hrs that evening. Everything was drenched in my pack. I reluctantly slid into my soaked sleeping bag that night and slept fitfully.
The next day was much the same, so I reluctantly packed up and headed out to civilisation.