Projects – Five get high on paint fumes at Tarn & Youngman
By: Neil Pilbrow
Source: Canterbury / Westland Section Newsletter (February 2017)
“Should we start painting the hut or go surfing on the tarn?” was the question on the minds of four members of the Midweek Mountaineers group as we emerged from our tents after a night of buffeting from the nor-west gale. The wind was whipping up white-caps on the nearby tarn as we made a dash for the hut, where Jim Henderson from DoC Rangiora, Claire Newell and their two kids were comfortably ensconced, and enjoyed breakfast as the hut rocked. The previous day, while the team tramped up to the somewhat exposed Tarn Hut in a moderate gale, Jim had ferried paint, cleaning materials and equipment, a generator, ladder and a week’s food for the party of eight, on the DoC side-by-side off-roader. The objective for the week was to paint the outside and clean up the inside of the four bunk Tarn and six bunk Youngman Huts, both of which were sorely in need of some TLC. Particularly Tarn, which had not been touched for about 20 years. Fortunately the rain on day one came to nothing and, battling the nor-wester, we completed the cleaning down and a first coat on the roof and walls, window and door. Next morning, with heavy packs, including cleaning materials, 12 litres of paint, brushes and food (not to mention the hors d’oeuvres), we were blown over Lillburn Hill to the picturesquely situated Youngman hut and attacked it with gusto. Here we were relatively sheltered from the worst of the nor-wester, but not the sandflies, which were pleased to see new meat arrive. Justice, of sorts, was achieved as many ended up stuck in the wet paint… much to the glee of the wasps who then proceeded to eat the trapped bodies, leaving just the wings.
Youngman Hut is a popular place, with three other parties visiting the hut while we were in residence. Fortunately, there are plenty of good tent sites close by. Hamish and Mari built a very fine dam in the nearby Ashley River, raising the swimming hole by a further foot, to the delight of its several users.
We left two days later, pleased with the transformation achieved, having scrubbed the inside from top to toe and put two coats on everything outside, including the toilet, which now sports a rustic toilet roll holder and parka hook on the door, fashioned from local materials.
Returning over Lillburn Hill to Tarn Hut, where we were reunited with the nor-wester, which was now blowing only half a gale, paint was applied to the walls, roof, and each other (courtesy of the gusts). A belay was required to hold Jim in place as he battled to finish the roof. That left only the final coat of polyurethane to be put on the inside of the hut before we departed down-hill, having spent a very satisfying and convivial six days in the hills.
The party members were Rod Thomson, Carolyn Catt, Dave Kennedy, Neil Pilbrow, and Jim Henderson and Claire Newell with Mari and Hamish. 11-16 January 2017.
Posted By: Narina Sutherland