A Craigieburn Commute

Cass — Lagoon Saddle Loop, Craigieburn Forest Park

Sam Harrison
9 min readJan 8, 2023

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Coming out of the bush from tackling the Gladiator I had a problem. I needed to work out how best to spend the next few days whilst making my way to Christchurch to fly back to Wellington. Slowly but surely a plan started to form, starting with a memorable New Years in Fox, hitching up through Hokitika before coming through Arthur’s Pass. Looking on the topo the Cass — Lagoon Saddle Loop seemed like the perfect overnighter to get me to Christchurch on time and bag some huts along the way.

A public servant on his way to Timaru dropped me off by the turnoff to Cora Lynn Road just after midday. I hauled my pack up onto my back and started trudging towards Bealey Hut. This was not as easy as it sounds. That morning I had woken up with a killer pain up one side of my back, so bad that when I lay on the floor I couldn’t get myself up. My pack was also stuffed full of all the extra gear I had put into Mat’s car “just in case” for our trip up the Gladiator, meaning it was significantly heavier than it needed to be (I thought it unlikely that I would need crampons in the middle of summer up the Craigieburn, but you never know). So in quite of a lot of discomfort I trod, propelled by my own stubbornness. This discomfort was momentarily ignored when a little lamb started pestering me to take a photo, which I happily obliged to do.

Bealey Hut is only 5 minutes from the roadend, making it an excellent overnight stopover on a Friday night. Opening the door I was hit by a wall of heat and I decided that the pain in my back was preferable to cooking all day in the hut.

I plodded onward, asking myself what would I do with a drunken tramper early in the morning. The beech forest was alive with sights and smells, the trees flowering in a spectacular display of red.

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Sam Harrison

Tramper with something to say about tramps (of the walking variety).