“Can you put this picture on blog?” Milo queried as we drove out to Lake Clearwater last Saturday morning. He wanted to post all his photos of smudgy car windows with blurred fields beyond, but we told him he’d have to be a little selective, and this one of Naomi’s tongue-out grin was my favorite. We’re just starting to see the potential for a two-kid family, where one child amuses the other and they’re happier together than separated. Well….sometimes.
“Baches,” the Kiwi term for a water-side shack, started being built next to Lake Clearwater sometime in the 1930s. This was one of the originals. It’s a no-frills cabin, improved little by little over the years through the lumps and bumps of hovely additions. There’s a sink with a tap but the rainwater connection tank hasn’t been hooked to it yet. The old coal range looks nice but fills the place with smoke. There’s a girls’ outhouse and one for the boys out back, as well as a new “bathroom unit” that will someday be connected to a septic tank and a water source. If the weather was cruddy it wouldn’t be that cozy a spot to hole up with a book, but it provides a decent place to lay your head after a day outdoors in the Canterbury high country.
One of the newest improvements is a wire looped across the ceiling….if we had brought light bulbs and a car battery we could have had electric lighting. Our friends Damien and Anna know the owners of the bach, so we got to go as their guests for the weekend.
Triple-deckers! This tiny bach packs in beds for 10 people. Sleeping in one put me in mind of submarine berths.
Milo woke up before the crack of dawn and accompanied Damien out looking for rabbits. No bunnies stirring, but a beautiful sunrise, disturbed only by Milo plunking rocks into the lake.
Jeremiah and Damien spent a few hours Saturday looking for chamois, but saw neither hide nor hair of them. This Canterbury high country is naked, I wouldn’t live their either if I were a chamois. No trees, and the tussock grass does little to hide the scars of geological history. You can see the wide valley carved out by an ancient glacier and the deep gravel deposits etched by old river paths. This time I noticed the jumbled lumpy gravel hummocks that spew out of the clefts of the mountains where the brittle rock dribbles down with each storm, as well as the smoother alluvial fans near the valley base.
Before we left we drove a bit further up the road to Potts Station by the Rangitata River. Mt Sunday is the low hill in the foreground where Lord of the Rings (capital of Rohan, King Theoden’s realm) was filmed.
Damien and Mimo (Italian friend) spotted some spawning salmon in this fast-moving creek, but we didn’t try to catch any. I’m not sure where they actually lay their eggs, we don’t know of any lakes in the headwaters. That water is MOVING, it’s hard to imagine swimming upstream any distance, let alone all the way from the ocean. I wonder how long it takes them.