The Random Ramblings of Ron the Rover

Ronald W. Black of the Linwood Rovers

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The Hut in which a party of seven were nearly drowned

The Hut in which a party of seven were nearly drowned on Dec 23, 1933. Railway Hut may be seen in background

View up the Hawdon Valley, Railway Hut in foreground

View up the Hawdon Valley, Railway Hut in foreground



Day 1: Saturday, December 23 1933

Both parties were travelling as far as Cass together and so the thirteen of us filled nearly half a carriage on the 10:15pm train from Christchurch on Saturday December 23rd, 1933. The stop at Springfield (11:30) was very welcome as we were thus enabled to have a snack and buy chocolate for the first few days of the trip. It was very noticeable as we got out of train that the wind was biting cold and conditions generally unfavourable. As we neared Staircase, things became damp and the rain was lashing down, with thunder and lightning increasing the violence of the storm, when we reached the Mt White bridge (3 miles past Cass). It was exactly 1:30am when we clambered off by the bridge and in the pitch darkness almost wiped ourselves off the map by walking into the fast-moving trucks attached behind the guards van. Fortunately they were noticed in time and so after the train had disappeared in the rain we began to feel our way along the rails. Luckily too, we were landed off just past a cattle stop or someone would have probably broken a leg. A torch was asked for but no one had such a thing and so, aided by a candle sheltered under a hat, which was repeatedly lighted we managed to progress about 400yds.

It may be worth mentioning here, that this was the first time we numbered off and assumed the numbers we used throughout the trip. It may sound amusing yet this little stunt was very helpful later in the trip as you will see. The first hut we came to, a railway one, defied entrance and so we wandered on, numbering off, relighting the candle & feeling along the rails with one foot. The next one was open! We heaved a sigh, blew out the light and opened the door, to find a quarter of a roof over our heads and the rest just fresh air! Further up the line, a jigger passed us with 4 persons on it.; one a young woman with a baby in her arms; probably going to a doctor. Another quarter of an hour saw us making back to the hut & we arrived back to command the erection of a shelter, right away. We strung the "storm" tents up in an absolute nonchalant fashion, wrapped our blankets round us, heaved & struggled into our sleeping - bags, to lie down in a pool of water with our packs as pillows and to pull a string and have the tents, which had been bulging water like a canopy, collapse over us. Asleep (maybe) 3:30am.