Waitaha Valley, West Coast – March 2021
County Stream Hut occupies a bench above the Country Stream, a major tributary of the Waitaha River, which drains the formidable western ramparts of Mt Evans in the central Southern Alps. Between 18–26 March, a team of volunteers funded by the BCT flew in to complete an upgrade of the hut.
This was part of a systematic upgrade of the area’s huts which has included Scamper Torrent (March 2021), Moonbeam (February 2021), Top Waitaha Valley (December 2020) and Ivory Lake (2017 and 2019). As Geoff Spearpoint commented, ‘The Waitaha hasn’t been so good for years!’
Spearpoint was part of the five-strong party that worked on County Stream Hut. His companions were Sven Brabyn, Peter Fullerton, Jane Morris and Hugh van Noorden.
The first major job was repairing the roof, removing all the lead flashing and nails, and replacing them tech screws, as well as replacing the Clearlite with a new sheet.
Other work included sanding and painting the woodwork on the table, porch, windows and door. The team scrubbed mould off the watertank and stand, cleaned out the gutter, secured the watertank with wire, replaced four corner piles and levelled the floor.
After the interior was scrubbed with sugar soap, the team primed then painted with a top coat of Dulux Totaranui Half colour. They also replaced a panel of buckled ply near the door, and made access to the top bunks a little easier and safer. The long-drop was not forgotten either, and got a new roof, a levelled floor, re-tensioned wire stays, fresh paint, and a new doorstop.
Not content with work just on the hut, the team re-cut, cleared and marked the track to Blomfield Creek. In addition, they secured a sign and large orange triangle where the track leaves Blomfield Creek, about 150m up from the County. As the chopper pad was sinking near the front, the volunteers re-levelled it, dug quite a bit out of the back and added a secure plank and post to the retaining wall. ‘Ken the chopper pilot was happy!’
All work and no play makes for a dull trip, so the team took advantage of the hut’s wonderful location to have some fun too. As Geoff recorded: ‘We spent a day doing a trip up onto Artists Dome and Mt Blomfield. Just wonderful. And a few hours another day nipping up the County Stream to check travel conditions. Much of it is now fine gravel flats and very good going till just about the end of the scrub.’
After nine days in the Country, the team flew out, with a sling load of junk destined for the tip. ‘DOC ranger Jordan kindly helped with that’.