okay..here are a few details of the best tramping (hiking) experience ever! I flew in to Nelson Thursday night...(yep-I did not like it-even a tiny 30minute flight gets my heart rate up...).
The flight was late(!!!) so I did not get to Justines till 9pm. I then had to had to pack my gear and food in Louey's 60 litre pack, (he kindly let me use)~which took a lot of sorting especially when Justine informed me I could not have a different outfit for each day. Only ONE set of clothes for tramping and one set for hut clothes! ..("can I at least have a change of undies!?"...)
Early Friday morning and we were off! We picked up two other avid trampers, (I~the least experienced) and drove for about an hour to the beginning of the track. This involved a gravel road and crossing four fords, two of which were unexpected..(as in: WTF!?..screech...).
Deane had given me a gps, but we couldn't get it to work..errm...so it was left in the car. We took a couple of maps and a compass...ummm...which Lou had given us a quick lesson in how to use. I was thinking a personal locator beacon would have been a good thing.
The first three hours were fun, a few tussles with sudden mud holes...(errgh!..step -step -step..SQUISH.. black mud up to thighs), a few pieces of non-existent track...(..hang on to tree roots above and hoist self over...)but there was nothing I could not handle...(I'm talking psychologically here...physically I'm tough...but my head space is a...ummm..scaredy cat...). We stopped to have lunch at an innocent looking clearing with the Wangapeka river raging beside us. Rivers, especially raging ones, are my fear. I am still not over my Coast to Coast, Waimakiriri river experience...really! Rivers freak me...which is why I should have thought deeply about the details of this tramp...read on, dear avids...
We packed up, laughing and joking, clipping along, we crossed our second skinny wire swing bridge..(one at a time) and rounding a corner..ta..daaaa!...I was face to face with the full fury of the river, white, fast and furious. On the other side I saw our orange triangle guide...blinking at me from a tree. We had to cross...the river. No bridge. Justine said I went white.
The noise of the Wangapeka was deafening...okay, it was just me freakin' actually. The others were looking at the logistics of us crossing safely.
It took me about ten minutes to muster, and linking arms we crossed it in about three minutes. Taking our boots off on the other side, we emptied them, wrung our socks out and continued on...up hill all the way. The valley and hills were breathtaking in all cliche ways possible. The track was thin...(scaredy cat thin..), and a lot of it had water streaming down it...turning it into a small creek.
After another four hours walking we rounded a corner and spotted our 'kiwi saddle' hut (1020 meters) in a sunny clearing. We applauded. There was cut wood, (could we get a raging fire started that night?!..NUp!..) and mattresses. In a little while (-first cup of coffee- shoes off-basking in the late afternoon sun- dry clothes and possum socks on) we were reminiscing about the walk, the mud, the ice, the snow, the river and planning the next day.
Tell ya what!...after dinner (tofu, rice, dehydrated veges), I was in my sleeping bag, dressed in 2 layers of thermal pants, possum socks, 3 layers of thermal tops plus my possum jersey, my puffer jacket plus a possum hat! I was just warm enough and was asleep by 8! The girls said I didn't move all night.
Day 2, and after breakfast and coffee, we walked through the valley and ascended Mt Patriarch. It was a tough final climb, through snow and ice. My old boots which I had only worn for painting in, I realised were not up for the conditions. The soles were worn away, leaving only a nice 'slide' for me on the ice. Justine walked ahead of me kicking holes through the snow/ice for me to step into. I learnt that some alpine grass is very sharp. Do not grab.
Once at the 'second peak' to the top, surrounded by an awesome ring of snow capped Mountains, we stopped and had lunch. Well, after we stripped naked, yelled, danced and took lots of photos did we have lunch. (Unfortunately, we forgot to take pic's of the peak while clothed, so cannot show you what we saw...). From there, I decided not to continue to the peak, as my shoes were not up to it. Justine and I lazed around a bit, and started out return to the hut. Once back, in dry clothes, we, okay, Justine lit a huge fire...(pic above). The 'Patriarch peakers' returned a few hours later, and we made dinner (a dehydrated pasta meal...) followed by a chaser of chocolate. We actually played a silly game of charades, but once again, I did not last and was unconscious by 8.30...I really did try to stay awake...
Our final day, was a seven hour trek return to the car. The dreaded river had less water in it, so I crossed it with minimal fear. I know it does not look huge in the pic....but it was. It really was! Ya know...like a river monster...
We finished the tramp off with a naked dip in the glacial water..(sorry..once again forgot to take clothed pic's of the scenery) and reunited with the car. It had a flat tyre.
My legs had a good workout, they felt pleasantly tired, and strong. The trip was great for my head, I have not been away from the kidlets for years.
I have decided to do a yearly trip with the girls...but I will check for rivers first.