Monday, June 21, 2010

Back on two wheels

The most exciting thing to happen in the past week is that I am back on my bike!

I've had a year off my bike while waiting for a tendon in my elbow to heal. It's been a very frustrating year and I have been itching to get back on the saddle and I'm now there.

For those who don't know, I have a road bike and, in the past, have cycled to work two or three times a week. That may sound a bit lame and maybe even lazy but, in my defence, it is 32 kilometres from home to work - a decent distance! The funny thing is, it takes me about an hour to cycle to work (I have been trying to crack the one-hour but haven't yet managed it - today it took me 1 hour 1 minute and 30 seconds!) while it takes at least 45 minutes on the train. By the time I have driven or walked to the train station, waited for a train and then walked from the station to walk there is very little difference in time.

Anyway, my next goal is to get out on the new mountain bike I bought. I've never ridden off-road but how hard could it be, right?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tramping trip report

For the past 3 days I have been off in the wilds of New Zealand tramping in the Tararua Forest Park. This was my first time out tramping for 6 years so our route was carefully selected to not be too onerous.

Saturday dawned sunny and fine as we drove up towards Masterton. Our route was a loop but not back to same carpark so we dropped a car off at our destination and we were dropped off at The Pines - the turnoff to The Pines is just short of Masterton. The walk into Mitre Flats Hut was through native forest and followed the Waingawa River. The path itself on this walk is clear enough to follow and a little rugged in places. Lots of little ups and downs and small creeks to cross. It took us about 3 hours to walk to the hut so we were there by about 3 in the afternoon. The hut is designed to sleep 14 and most of the beds were taken when we arrived. We quickly nabbed two spots and then settled down and chatted with others at the hut. The hut is serviced so there were gas cookers which made dinner preparation easy. We had managed to carry in some wine and a good measure of Cointreau so the evening was fun. By the time everyone headed to bed others had turned up to the hut and it was starting to rain. We counted over 20 people so it was pretty snug although a few people slept outside. In retrospect those sleeping outside probably got the best night's sleep as there was an extremely loud snorer in the hut.

Sunday dawned to constant rain and the sight of a helicopter heading into the hills - potentially off to look for lost trampers. After a good breakfast of porridge and cups of tea we got ourselves sorted and headed off to Atiwhakatu Hut in the rain. The track had a couple of decent climbs and was pretty rugged in places. After the last big climb and descent we stopped for some hot soup. While it was wet it certainly wasn't cold as long as we kept moving. After our soup stop I felt a bit chilled so put my fleece hat back - which was really lucky as about 15 minutes down the track I somehow managed to trip or slip (still not sure which) and did a magnificent face plant. I landed fair and square on my nose and forehead. It was one of those moments when you just need to lay there for a minute and assess the damage done. My tramping companion was with me pretty quickly and checked me out. Lucky for me the path at that point was dirt and wood rather than rocks. Within a few minutes we were back walking - me with a decent headache and a nice bump forming. Anyway, the walk between huts took us about three hours and we pretty wet by the time we got there. The hut looked flasher than Mitre Flats but had no cooking facilities which was a shame. For a while we thought we would have the hut to ourselves but a group of school girls and their teachers turned up. They were pretty wet and cold as they had been right up on the tops in the wind as well as the rain. So again we had a full hut but it was fun - very amusing listening to a group of 15 year old girls chatting. The best thing about that night was that we didn't need to contend with a snorer - yay!

This morning (Monday) it dawned...... well..... wet. Never mind. Again we had a good filling breakfast and cup of tea before heading off down the path to the carpark. The walk was an easy one - pretty flat for the majority of it. It rained the whole way back to the car but a nice dry change of clothes awaited us. It only took us about an hour and a half to walk out - we were walking pretty briskly. I think the idea of getting home to a soak in the spa spurred us on.

I loved the whole weekend - except for maybe the face plant bit. It's highlighted the need for a few changes in equipment which I will get onto as I am sure this won't be the last time I head for the hills. The purpose of this trip was to help get me back into tramping so now we can start to plan for some more serious walks.