Hurray! We're getting close now! And to be honest were all wanting the glory and are a little impatient for the end. I've been finding the psychological effort required to keep pushing and walking everyday quite tough really. Normally with sporting events I've done before eg, marathons and coast to coast, the finish line comes into sight and it's possible to wind it up, pick up the pace and charge to the checkered flag but it's not possible with walking. The days are slow, static and finding the motivation to get out the plod like 1st gear is hard. My moods are shooting from one extreme to another. One minute happy, then so bored and annoyed, then cheesed off and whilst I keep trying to gain perspective and remind myself I'm doing this through choice and that it's a holiday I can't shift the feeling of wanting it all to be over. I guess 4 months of mostly arduous walking has started to take its toll. But we have got a celebration arranged for Bluff - in Lake Ohau I got talking to some guy at the campground who had just got back from the Cayman islands and after hearing about our adventure gave me a Cuban cigar for the finish line. Me and Rajiv are planning to go two's up on a bottle of scotch whiskey and Emily is getting a bottle of champagne. Following that it's back to the fine culinary experiences of Invercargill to go and have a curry together! 202kms left! C'Mon!
Friday, 14 June 2013
March 5th marked Day 100 of being "on the trail" and in true Te Araroa style we cut loose by rationing ourselves half a packet of biscuits more than usual. Rock n Roll.....let the good times unfold! It would of been great to of packed some cheese and red wine but our packs were heavily loaded to support our 8 day stretch from Lake Coleridge to Tekapo village. A few minor adjustments to our food and we're the heaviest yet. Easily 20kg which makes 1000m ascents feel like somebody's trying to pull you back down the mountainside but we stay calm and cruisy and just plod along.
And "plodding" seems to be the theme of the day at the moment. Not too sure why but since the complete utter highs of Richmond Range and especially Nelson Lakes I've crashed a little. We're still surrounded by fairytale type scenery and the lifestyle is so great so cannot make complete sense of the emotions but will just keep motivated and ride it out. Maybe fish n chips in Tekapo (or Takeapoo as I affectionately call it) and a rest day will turn the corner.
So plodding 1000m to the first saddle took us right up from the Rakaia river up and over and slapped straight back into the Southern Alps hut hopping our way to Lake Emily. Towards the end of the 1st day the wind started to pick up slightly then just out of the blue about 25m in front of Emily a little dust devil sprang to life on the track where it wobbled and whisked together on the spot, then after a few seconds it waved and wobbled its way to our right and down the mountainside where it unravelled itself and swirled back to fresh air.
The end of the day saw us escape the oncoming rain and strong, gusting nor'wester as we flung open the door to Comyns Hut. My favourite hut so far. It was old and built in the 60's out of the most basic of materials - wriggly tin and a mechano kit girder type assembly. It was dark but the many candles gave the hut a warm, atmospheric glow and the large open fire place allowed for a heartwarming heat and focal point to the evening as the wind howled outside.
Climbing, ascending, sidling and repeat. This was the theme to getting to Lake Emily and once there we snapped a shot as towering above Lake Emily was Mt Taylor so it seemed fitting. Joining the 4WD track to leave and finish this section Melanie noticed a presumably empty box of beers most likely left by some litter bug but upon closer inspection saw that there were 5 beers in there! BOOM! Within seconds the lids were popped and the 5 of us were doing a cheers in a real remote part of NZ! Happy days! It was only 11am but whose wearing a watch these days? Oh yeah......what day is it?
So tomorrow we head up to Stag Saddle, the highest point of Te Araroa at 2000m altitude. We pushed out an 11 hour day yesterday to get ourselves to the hut at the front of the pass for tonight then on Emily's birthday we will summit and if the weather holds huge views across Lake Tekapo to NZ's highest mountain, Mt Cook/Aoraki should be on offer! Happy Birthday Emily X
Thursday, 28 February 2013
Once in Hanmer we went crazy at the sight of a supermarket and smashed close to $300 without even blinking an eyelid! There we go, all resupplied ready for the next 7day section to Arthurs Pass via Harper Pass and Goat Pass. But first things first, lets go across the road to the leafy park, sit by a picnic bench and devour an artisan bread loaf with a jar of nutella, a slab of butter and a jar of strawberry jam! Satisfaction was guaranteed.
We then called up the Alpine Adventure campground to check for prices and once theyoffered a courtesy pick-up wehad to say yes. Couldn't possibly walk for another 10 minutes! This place was great - hot showers, hot laundry (trust me, that's nothing short of amazing) and the people running the joint were chilled out and real friendly so we decided to stay for 2 nights. The first night we slept like logs but the 2nd night we had an unwelcomed visitor - a bloody possum! These area pest in NZ as back in the early 1920's (I think) they were introduced into the wild for the fur trade but their numbers exploded and with it they caused havoc by knawing at certain trees, eating birds eggs and in Waitomo we even had a possum kill a bird directly above our tent, the blood of which spilt all over our abode! We've had numerous sleepless nights because of possums and now, here was another potential, but not if I can help it. Once I heard it close to the tent and the walking poles disturbed, I lept out of the tent with the headtorch and shone it directly at the tree adjacent to the tent and there it was, startled, daring not to move (this is why you see so many dead at the side of the roads). First thing I noticed was that it was trying to get away with Emily's walking pole would you believe. Second thing I noticed was in my right hand I was holding my 4ft long wooden pole with the thin end grasped in my hand. I looked at the pole, looked at the possum and instinctively decided it was time for it to die!
Keeping the possum in a daze with the headtorch, I drew back the pole with the precision of an archer, got myself into the position of a baseball batsman and I was poised ready to strike. The heartbeat got stronger, I took a couple of breaths knowing I would have to strike it hard in the head to kill it. But here goes..........here's for all theinnocent birds you kill, here's to devastating the countryside, here's to keeping me up all night and for infecting animals with TB you dirty pest and with all my might I swung the pole and SMACK! I felt a sharp shockwave go up my arms but to my dismay realised I had hit the tree and not the possum, who scurried up the tree out of reach and stared back at me! "Bastard", I though, here goes another sleepless night......
Wednesday, 20 February 2013
Since arriving into the South Island the hiking has just got better and better. The 4 day Queen Charlotte Track scored a 6/10. After tasting the rigours and adventurous side of hiking it was a little tame to be honest but great warm up after completing the North Island and taking 3 days off in Wellington. Next we moved onto the Richmond Range, an 8 day epic that was rugged, tough and hard work but the alpine views and surprisingly consistent weather made it a 9/10 but since entering the Nelson Lakes it's been demoted to a 8/10 making Nelson Lakes 9.5/10! It would only be better if there was a skimpily clad bar women in each hut at the end of the day serving ice cold beer.
Yesterday, when climbing up the Travers river the sentence that came out of my mouth when approaching Upper Travers hut for a lunch stop was "...wow, I think that this is the closest place to paradise I've ever seen..." Insanely beautiful and picturesque. The hut lay on a plateau at the foot of a steep mountain ridge that seemed to cocoon and dwarf the hut. Snaking its way along the flat plateau was a crystal clear river with slight and occasional rapids and all around us was knee high grass and tussock, green, brown and yellow in colour with wild flowers in abundance. With the cloudless blue sky and the full strength of the midday sun the colours intensified.
Today we have decided on a short day as we have enough food until or next resupply and Blue Lake is outstanding - what's the rush! It has been crowned the purest water in the world with visibility up to 80m and is sacred to the Maori. Sitting here, drinking from the lake, washing adjacent to it and being drawn to sit at the source for a few hours I can appreciate why.
After Blue Lake we pushed on to Boyle Village then hitched to Hanmer Springs to resupply before embarking on the next 5-7 day mission up and over Harper Pass to Arthurs Pass. The Nelson Lakes was a complete Te Araroa highlight for me and the South Island is just amazing! We are now over 2000km into the journey and have less than 1000km to go so are two-thirds of the way through already! Happy days!
Bye for now....
Phil and Em x
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
As we approached the start of Pelorus River track we bumped back into Rajiv so linked back up to take on the next big section. It was beautiful walking along the river. Tall ascents and steep descents broken up by many stream and tributary crossings, one of which saw Emily turn into a ninja as she was faced with leaping a long distance to the safety of the other side of the gushing stream or swimming down through the rapids!!!
Rajiv has been nursing a bad ankle which swelled up to 1 1/2 times its size and after day 2 with compensating for his ankle his knee started hurting so we took an early unscheduled stop for the day at a hut by the side of two joining rivers with 2 sets of rapids. A gorgeous setting.
After day 3 me and Em decided to push on and leave Rajiv in the company of 2 other walkers who were doing the same trail but at a slower speed so that fingers crossed after a 4 hour, 900m ascent to the hut we would wake up in the morning to blue skies and sunshine as forecast. The forecast was right and today was the best days walking so far!
Many hours spent walking the exposed tops with clear skies and not a breath of wind with views that were so vast and expansive it was hard to know where to look. Nelson and the ocean with Kahurangi National Park one way, Blenheim and the North Island one way and then a fine array of tall peaks dancing down the interior of the south another! Absolutely stunning! We took a lunch break and just sat there gazing for an eternity. Such a magnificent vista that felt all the better for knowing we had got there under our own power. This is why we trained up in the north island for 2 months. To be here right now trail fit and experienced.