Monday, November 26, 2012

Fun on Mt Ruapehu

In preparation for our planned trip to the South Island next month we headed up to Ruapehu to try a few things out - top of the list was to practise crevasse extraction. If the conditions are right to climb Mt Aspiring at Christmas time that will involve crossing the Bonar glacier. From what I've read the glacier can be quite heavily crevassed so there is a risk of falling down one. All well and good if you know the techniques of extraction so it was time to go do some practise.

We headed up to the Alpine Club lodge on Tukino on Saturday afternoon with the plan to spend Sunday on the snow. There had been some warnings about the volcanic status of the mountain over the past couple of weeks so we checked the latest news before heading up there. Apparently they've discovered that the crater lake is quite cool (20 - 25 degrees celsius) while the mountain underneath a few hundred metres down is extremely hot (800 degrees celsius). That is a sign that it could blow at some stage. Anyway, we checked out where the lahar paths are on the mountain and knew that the lodge itself is in a relatively safe location - of course if the mountain really blew big-time then the whole mountain could blow apart. From what I understand, the crater lake is behind and a little to the right of the snowy peak (Pyramid Peak) on the right side of the photo below.

As we are heading into summer I wondered what the snow cover would be on the mountain. Here's a photo I took when we got there on Saturday afternoon. Looks pretty good to me.

Here's a wider photo of the mountain. Pyramid Peak is just to the left of the middle of the photo.

We went for a bit of a walk when we got there to figure out where we could do our practise the following day. On returning to the lodge it was time for dinner and a good sleep. We had the lodge to ourselves - in fact it seemed we had that side of the mountain to ourselves.

In the morning we woke to a fine, calm day. In the distance we had a great view of Mt Ngauruhoe and to the right you can see a column of white. We're pretty sure that is steam coming from Mt Tongariro which erupted last week.

Here's a photo of the pulley system we setup. I was the lucky one who got to jump into the schrund (a bit like a crevasse) that was just below these rocks to test out the system.

And that's a picture of me at the bottom of the slope we were working on. The photo was taken about two thirds of the way down the slope.

After a fantastic day on the snow and in the sun we packed up and headed for home. The last photo is taken from the Desert Road looking back at Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Queensland holiday - final instalment

We'd been told, when we were planning this holiday, that you couldn't just turn up to a camping area in a national park in Queensland. You need to have pre-booked and paid for your site before arriving at a campground. On the Thursday afternoon we rang the number to book a campsite on Inskip Peninsula only to find that the booking system was out of action, had been unavailable all week and there was no expected date for it be up and running again. We were advised to just turn up and find a campsite then contact the ranger to sort out payment. So we did just that. We headed through Rainbow Beach and made our way to one of four camping areas out on Inskip Peninsula. There was plenty of room so we found a suitable spot and set up the tents. It was about a 15 second walk to get onto the beach. Fantastic!

We doubled back to Rainbow Beach to sort out paying for the campsite and to purchase some firewood.

Rainbow Beach looking down towards the coloured sands

View from the sand dune just along from Rainbow Beach
Coloured sands - much more dramatic when you're there
We stayed at this campsite for a week and spent our days pretty lazily. One morning after breakfast we wandered along to the end of the peninsula to watch cars boarding the barge for Fraser Island. After checking with the crew we found we were able to go across on the barge at no cost so we hopped on. We weren't very prepared for this - no shoes, no water, no food - just what we stood up in. For me that was my bikini, sarong and hat.

View from the barge looking back at Fraser Island.
A couple of days later we got ourselves better organised and hopped back on the barge to spend the day out on Fraser Island. We walked around the coast for a couple of hours, had a picnic lunch and a swim before heading back towards where the barge would pick us up again.
View from our picnic spot on Fraser Island looking back at the mainland
Goanna on Fraser Island
View from Fraser Island back to Inskip Peninsula
The most delightful thing about both our trips out to Fraser Island were the pods of dolphins we saw. There were several pods and some came very close to the shore - almost within arms reach when we were swimming.

The camping areas on Inskip are pretty basic. There are composting toilets and there is rubbish disposal and that's it. You're not allowed to collect firewood and you need to bring all your water in with you. Rainbow Beach is just down the road and has cafes, supermarkets, takeaways, etc. We had some great meals cooking over the fire and using our little gas stove. A week after we arrived it was time to pack up and head for Brisbane and our flight home. We'd had fantastic weather for the week so didn't mind the torrential rain we encountered on our drive back down to Brisbane. With an early check-in time at Brisbane Airport we had booked ourselves into a cheap hotel out by the airport. The shower was complete luxury after a week of beach camping. The next morning we were up early and off to the airport after having had a wonderful relaxing holiday in the sun.

If you're thinking of heading to Queensland I can recommend the company we booked our car through. For $582 (Australian dollars) we had a medium-sized car (Camry) for two weeks with unlimited kms and a wide area we could travel within (which we only went outside a little!). We had great service from the pickup at the airport right through to collecting and returning the car. The only issue we had with the car was the alarm malfunctioning in the early hours of the morning at the Inskip campsite. That was soon solved with a quick disconnection of the horn.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Queensland holiday - part 2

In Part 1 we had made it to Lake Coolmunda, Queensland. Our next destination was Lake Broadwater. To get there we traveled west to Goondiwindi, north to Moonie and then took the road north-east towards Dalby. We did a little shopping in Goondiwindi to stock up our food supplies before hitting the road again. The town of Moonie was the only place on the map between Goondiwindi and Dalby so we figured we would stop there for lunch. Of course, when we got there we realised town was a bit of an exaggeration. Moonie had one place to eat - the roadhouse. Not exactly a salubrious establishment but we were hungry so it had to do. After lunch we were back on the road to Lake Broadwater where we would spend the next two nights. The campground is right on the shore of the lake and there was tons of room so we sorted out our campsite before having a look around. Camping here cost us just over $20 / night (and there were hot showers!).

Here's our campsite and our kitchen / dining room

We got to see loads of kangaroos close to the lake. The first photo shows a mum with a joey's legs and tail hanging out of her pouch. Looks pretty uncomfortable for both of them.

On the second day at the lake we thought we'd go for a walk. There was a walk described in the brochure that sounded interesting and it mentioned a 1.5 km distance. Not too challenging. Sadly the instructions weren't quite right so we walked a distance of around 8 kms. We were all rather hot and tired when we got back to the campsite. On the walk we spotted one snake - we didn't get a good picture of it but it was fat and black from what we could see. Interestingly the track we were on was sandy and was crisscrossed with many snake trails - skinny ones and thicker ones. So I think the area was pretty much teeming with snakes.

We got chatting to a bloke who told us that the lake had been dry for 12 years up until the previous year when they had massive floods. It's funny. In New Zealand if we decided to go camping at a lake we would expect there to be water in it. I guess it's not a given in Australia.

The following photo is of my lovely cousin Leonore and myself by the lake. Leonore drove several hours from the town of Surat to come spend the afternoon with us. It was great to catch up with her as we hadn't seen each other since we were kids (which is a few years ago now).

The next day it was time to pack up and start heading north-east with the intention of being able to easily get back to the coast the following day. This day took us through Dalby then Kingaroy. We stopped at a pub for lunch in Kingaroy - and to pick up more supplies (the all important cider was on the list of things to get). After lunch we headed to Lake Barambah for a bit of a swim before driving through to Glastonbury State Forest. Leonore had mentioned that we would be able to camp in the forest so we took a road into the forest, then another side road and set up camp.

Campsite for the night

Me in the kitchen (cider in hand)
We didn't bother using the fly over the tent so it was glorious night with a clear sky and lots of stars. The next morning we headed into Gympie to a park to have breakfast.
View from our breakfast spot in Gympie
And then it was on to the coast. We had picked the Inskip Peninsula as the spot where we would spend a week. I'll create another post for that one!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Queensland holiday - part 1

The recent October school holidays provided us with the opportunity to escape Wellington's miserable spring (hah!) weather and head for warmer climes. This was to be a relaxing holiday in the sun on a shoestring budget. We sorted out flights and a cheapo rental car and that was the organising finished. NZ school holidays had a week overlap with Queensland and New South Wales holidays so we were expecting that camp grounds, etc could be pretty busy.

We flew into Brisbane on the morning flight, picked up the rental car then headed to the second hand shops to get some supplies. After visiting three shops we had what we needed - a fry pan, a pot, cutlery, crockery and a bowl. We'd brought our tents and a little gas cooker so we were all set. We spent our first night at a holiday park in Kingscliff. This was our most expensive camping night at $55 (ouch!). The place was pretty chocka but there was a little corner for our tents so we set ourselves up for the night and used the gas bbq to cook our dinner.

The holiday park was right on the beach so a dip in the sea before breakfast was a great way to start the first full day of our holiday. With the weather forecast for the coast looking less than ideal and all the warnings about the busyness expected due to school holidays we made the call to head inland. So, after breakfast we packed up and headed to our next destination - Border Ranges National Park. While our holiday was primarily in Queensland, this park is over the border in New South Wales.

We stopped and had lunch at the Murwillumbah Services club. I'd been there before a couple of times with my parents so I was on familiar ground. After lunch we carried on and into the Border Ranges National Park. Here's the view of one of the worlds largest calderas.

The lump in the middle is Mt Warning and that's about the centre of the caldera. It's the biggest erosion caldera in the southern hemisphere.

We camped for two nights in the Sheepstation Creek campground within the National Park. Fees to camp here were $16 / night - a nice price after paying through the nose at Kingscliff. After numerous warnings about how busy all the campgrounds would be we were pleasantly surprised to find that there was plenty of room. Here's our site.

On our second day there we headed off for a walk around the Rosewood Loop track. The following are a few nature shots we took while on the walk.

Sheepstation Creek

Rather large, interesting tree

Waterfall (obviously)
Two freaking snakes - mating or fighting?
Another freaking snake
Seriously?!? We weren't expecting to see any snakes on our trip so to see three in one day was a little daunting.  All three were within a metre or so of the track we were walking on.
Reptile with legs for a change
Here's a short video of those snakes.

The next day we packed up and headed further west. On checking our comprehensive resources (a freebie tourist map of South East Queensland) we decided to head for the Coolmunda Conservation Park thinking we might find a spot in the park to camp. Sadly when we got there it was all fenced off and didn't look particularly attractive so we headed back towards the main road and booked in for the night at the Lake Coolmunda Caravan Park. This was about as attractive as the conservation park was but did have the advantage of having hot showers. It cost us $30 for the night. The park itself is sandwiched between the railway line and the Cunningham Highway. Nice! Only one train went through in the middle of the night. Anyway, here's a couple of photos.

Campsite at Lake Coolmunda

View of Lake Coolmunda from the campground
I think that's enough for the first episode. I'll get to work on the next one and post that in the next day or so.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gluten free baking

I've been experimenting recently with some new recipes with pretty good results. I've been looking for some recipes that are vegan - more as a matter of interest to see what the results would be like compared to a "normal" recipe.

The first one I tried is from - here's the link Chocolate Banana Cake Bars. This produced a very moist cake - very brownie like - and was pronounced delicious.

The second one is also gluten free and vegan (and has no added sugar either). This recipe only makes a small amount so don't try use a standard size slice tin - more a tin that is about the half the size. It's from a site called - here's the link Chocolate Fudge Brownies. Note also that, even after refrigerating, it's super moist so quite difficult to cut. This one was pronounced very rich and yum!

Both the recipes are pretty easy to make and great for when you're living a vegan gluten free diet and also good to take along when you know people have some dietary restrictions. Chances are that the brownies will be ok for the majority of people to eat.

The other baking I do on a regular basis (generally once a week) is a gluten free banana loaf. Tonight I altered the recipe to make it vegan (replaced the eggs with flax seed - to replace one egg, mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of cold water, let it stand for 5 minutes) and it's turned out just fine. The original recipe was from the NZ Healthy Food Guide site. I just checked their site now and the recipe they have is completely different to the one I make. I had modified their recipe anyway so here it is.

2 eggs (or replace it with flax seed as described above for a vegan loaf)
1 cup sugar (I'll be messing with this the next time I make it to reduce the sugar)
1/2 cup oil
1 tspn vanilla
2 soft bananas
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup potato flour
1 tspn baking soda
1 tblspn gum (guar or xanthan)

Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees celsius.

Beat eggs, sugar and oil. Add vanilla and bananas and beat till well mixed.
Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Pour mixture into a greased loaf tin and bake until a skewer comes out clean (around 40-45 minutes - my oven is a little dodgy so just check the loaf with a skewer).

That's it. That recipe is super simple to make so easy to whip up and bake after dinner. Enjoy!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fine dining at its best / Tararua tramping

As you know I love cooking and trying out new recipes. From time to time I come across something that I like to share with others. I'd like to share this particular recipe as it's the meal I've most enjoyed in recent times.

Now, to enjoy this recipe to it's fullest, you need to tramp for 9 hours ensuring that you ascend at least 1200 metres and then descend back down 1200 metres. Make sure the last few hours are in the dark and that there is no clear track to travel on. And, just to ensure you've worked up an appetite, the last 200 metres should be through impenetrable bush with loads of supplejack.

Once you've got to the hut you can then prepare the following meal :

Cook up some onion, garlic and chilli in a little oil. Put aside.

Lightly boil some broccoli, cauliflower and carrot.

Add dried mashed potato to the vegetables. Stir well. Add onion, garlic and chilli and stir. Add a tin of tuna. Serve and eat immediately.

I forgot to mention, try turn up to the hut late in the evening when all other trampers are tucked up in bed sleeping. I'm sure they didn't mind us arriving then cooking our dinner.

This trip was an overnight into the Tararua Range. We parked at Holdsworth road end and then headed up the Gentle Annie track. We stopped for a lunch snack at Mountain House Shelter then carried on up to Powell Hut for another quick break. From there we climbed another 100 metres or so (a total climb for the day of 1200 metres) until we reached the turnoff for High Ridge. That's the signpost in the photo below.

This photo is the start of High Ridge. You basically walk along the top of the ridge. At first it's open tussock and then further along the ridge you get into bush. It's a little rough in places getting into and out of the bush but not bad once you're in it. We walked along to Flaxy Knob which is the bush covered rounded bit in the distance on the right of the photo. From there it's a descent back down to 200 metres to Totara Flats Hut.

The following photo is looking back up the ridge to the start point.

From Flaxy Knob the route is less easy. There was a lot of windfall and, of course, it got dark soon after we started descending. We lost the route a few times but managed to get back onto it with a bit of scouting around. Finally we were about 200 metres from joining up to the main Totara Creek track when we lost the route again. At this stage some bright spark put forward the idea that it would be quicker to make our way through the bush than it would be to spend time finding the route again. That was one of those statements that I wish I'd never made!!!! It took us an hour to travel the 200 metres. The bush was pretty thick, the ground was quite rugged in places and the supplejack was rife. For those that haven't experienced walking through supplejack it's like some awful nightmare where you are constantly trying to climb over vines, duck under other vines, getting vines stuck on the top of your pack etc. Not a lot of fun and certainly slows down forward progress.

Once we joined onto the main track it was a matter of minutes to get to the hut over the swingbridge. By now it was after 9pm. It had been a long day. But, that meal was divine! And the whiskey in front of the fire went down pretty well too.

The following morning we woke to a little bit of mist but the weather remained calm and dry - both important when out tramping in the Tararuas. Makes for a much more enjoyable day. 

Soon after leaving the hut there's an impressive swing bridge across the Waiohine River. The walk out to the carpark was a lot shorter and more straight forward than the previous day. Basically a walk up the Totara Creek track which joins back onto the Gentle Annie track. The walk out took us three and a half hours all up. The climb was only about 500 metres or so. A lot easier than the day before.

That's another corner of the Tararua's that we can tick off. If you're thinking of doing this walk it would be prudent to get down off High Ridge in daylight hours. Oh, and if you lose the route, find it again!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

At last - a great gluten free bread recipe

After many attempts at baking gluten free bread and producing bricks that could be used to build a fortress, I've found a recipe that makes a really nice loaf. The recipe has quite a list of ingredients but the method is pretty simple so don't be put off. I found the recipe on the blog in an entry that was published in April 2010.

Anyway, I make this bread several times a week. It's great toasted but also really nice as fresh bread for sandwiches. While I am sure the original recipe works absolutely fine I did make some minor modifications (some deliberately and some by accident). I use organic molasses instead of the honey / syrup, simply because I had some on hand. I also make a single loaf rather than two (because I only have one loaf tin) and I don't let the loaf rest before I bake it (because I didn't read that bit in the original instructions. I also managed to omit the almond meal the other night by mistake but the resultant loaf was fine. That was useful to find out for those times when I've run out of almond meal.

Here's the recipe with my modifications :

1 1/4 cups warm water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
5 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with cold water to equal 3/4 cup
3 tbsp oil
3 tbsp organic molasses
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
2/3 cup potato flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1 tbsp xanthan gum (or guar gum)
1 tsp baking soda

Add warm water and yeast in a mixing bowl and leave for 5 minutes.

Grind the flaxseeds and add cold water to equal 3/4 cup of a flaxseed-water mixture.  Stir and let sit while the yeast is proofing.

When the yeast and water mixture has proofed, add the oil, molasses and the flaxseed / water mixture. Whisk lightly to combine.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk lightly.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine.  Stir for a couple of minutes until well mixed. Place the batter into a loaf tin - wet your hands to smooth the loaf.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake 60 - 70 minutes. Use a skewer to check the loaf for doneness.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Update to 101 things to do in 1001 days

At the beginning of 2010 I posted a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. I posted a couple of times with updates but that was ages ago. Today I dug out that old post and had a review of what was on it. Many items no longer have relevance to me. Quite a few others have been completed. Here's what it looks like now.

1. Write a letter to myself to open in 10 years
2. Go vegetarian for one month - I've been vegetarian for over a year now - can tick this one off.
3. Walk the Milford Track - we're booked to do this in December this year
4. Spend a holiday exploring the top of the North Island (everywhere north of Auckland) - had a couple of trips to Northland which is a great start but also have a vague plan to continue with this item in the future.
5. Visit the Coromandel - not yet
6. Visit Tauranga - not yet
7. Make a quilt - not likely - craft work just isn't on my horizon these days.
8. Go to 3 music concerts - Womad twice and the Joe Cocker concert - done!
9. Invest in a decent sound system - have a functioning stereo setup - done!
10. Downsize my house and my mortgage - sold the house, have no mortgage, am renting - done!
11. Blog at least once a week - a bit of a fail on this but maybe on the improve
12. Have a massage once a month - not so important to me anymore
13. Declutter my house - I did that when I moved. This is an item that needs to be executed on a regular basis
14. Clean out garage - as per #13
15. Stick to my budget - I threw the budget out when I sold my house. This hasn't resulted in any issues for me and I'm saving a decent amount per month and have no debt.
16. Track all expenses - nope, see #15
17. Try 50 new recipes - I won't try list all the new recipes I've tried but I reckon it would be getting close to 50. Going vegetarian and needing to cook gluten and dairy free regularly ensures I try new recipes often.
18. Listen to one new musician / band every month - fail! But I also don't feel this is important to me anymore.
19. Buy a piece of art - this is also not important to me anymore. I'd rather be out looking at the great outdoors which is the best piece of artwork around.
20. Find a great cupcake recipe - I've finally decided that cupcakes are overrated so this is off the list!
21. Replace my lounge suite - nope.What I have is perfectly functional so won't be replaced anytime soon.
22. Make new cushions for the lounge - nope. The cushions I have are just fine.
23. Increase mortgage payments - no mortgage anymore.
24. Go skiing - done!
25. Compile my favourite recipes - all my favourite recipes are in a folder in the kitchen. Done!
26. Give blood regularly - I give as regularly as I can. It seems that blood donation time often coincides with me getting a cold sore or a cold.
27. Become a volunteer for the Samaritans - nope. This is still in the back of my mind to do but not a priority right now.
28. Go sky-diving - hmmmmmm. Why is this on the list? It can stay for now but it seems doubtful I will rush out and do this.
29. Only buys clothes / shoes for replacing existing items - this is pretty on course. The exception is specialised clothing for outdoors / alpine environment etc as I am still building up what I need for that.
30. Take 3 cooking classes - I did one and now my cooking classes tend to be via youtube.
31. Complete Christmas shopping by October - hahahahaha. Whatever.
32. Attend a yoga retreat - maybe I will do this one day but I would rather be climbing a mountain or camping by the beach than doing this.
33. Eat less red meat - done! I eat none.
34. Eat more fish - done! I eat fish on a regular basis.
35. Donate $10 to charity for each task I don't complete - Will do this.
36. Go camping - yes. Often.
37. Go on an unplanned road trip for a weekend - I do end up doing quite a few last minute trips into the outdoors. Road trip? Not likely.
38. Put together an emergency kit - I've done this although I think all emergency kits need regular review and updating.
39. Take a dance class - nope. It's possible I might try swing dancing though.
40. Do yoga three times a week for a month - I probably got close to this a year or so ago. Now it's more likely to be three times a year.
41. Go to a live comedy show - done! Have been to several.
42. Buy fresh flowers once a month - nope. Not important to me.
43. Make 25 different cocktails - nope. But I've tried lots of different pinot noirs and a fair few whiskeys. Does that count?
44. Try out a new restaurant once every two months - nope. Eating out isn't a priority. I'd rather cook something different at home than pay through the nose for mediocre food.
45. Make a winter dress - nope. I don't need any more clothes and when I do it is likely I will go buy something rather than make it.
46. Spend a rainy day with someone in bed - still working on this one. There's always so many other things to do.
47. Sleep under the stars - done!
48. Read a science fiction book. Really? Why did I put this on here. I am so far behind on my reading these days it's unlikely I will force myself to read a genre in which I have no interest.
49. Prepare and have a romantic candlelit dinner at home. I might have to do this sometime. This can stay on the list.
50. Read at least one non-fiction book a month - like I said above, I am very behind on my reading. When I do read it does tend to be non-fiction these days.
51. Complete a sudoku every day - I have been doing this recently as it helps keep my brain active.
52. Go to a wine and food festival - this can stay on the list but not sure if it will be achieved.
53. Go to 10 plays - since the list began I have probably been to 2 plays. I'd like to see more though.
54. Go white-water rafting - done!
55. Menu plan every week - nope. This can come off the list. I am now into planning each meal around what we have in the fridge and cupboard. I buy a ton of in-season fruit and vegetables every week and this forms the basis of what we eat.
56. Reduce grocery spend to $70 / week. I'd have to look at this. I'm not too focused on cost at present, more interested in quality.
57. Review goals once a week. Oops. Once a year maybe.
58. Make soap. Maybe one day.
59. Take a bubble bath every month. I jump in the spa on a regular basis so this one is replaced by "Soak in the spa.".
60. Build something out of wood. Really? Like what? What was I thinking?
61. Buy a "round town" bike for running errands. Since moving into a house on the hill it makes more sense to stick to a bike with good gears. I tend to just use my road bike.
62. Set up spare room as a real guest bedroom. Nope. Off the list.
63. Go on holiday to Japan. That would be great but I think there are other countries that would come before Japan. Would be cool to go to Nepal. Malaysia.
64. Donate 100,000 grains of rice on I did do this for a while. Not sure where I got up to. Might have to look into this and get back into it.
65. Create a cleaning schedule. hahahaha Cleaning happens when it happens. Usually not often enough.
66. Take a class and learn something new. youtube is my classroom. I learnt how to make homemade corn tortillas that way. :)
67. Donate food to the local food bank once a month. Nope. Hmmmm. Will think about this.
68. Do a random act of kindness once a month. Haven't kept track of this. Seems doubtful. Although I do think I do acts of kindness often anyway.
69. Knit something. I have been thinking about doing this. I wonder if it will get past the thinking stage?
70. Make a loan through Kiva. Nope. Have to look into this further.
71. Go see a 3D movie. So not interested in this.
72. Keep in regular contact with my brother. I think I fail with this one although it's easier these days with him being on Facebook more often.
73. Sew Christmas stockings. Nah!
74. Go to an art gallery every month. Not every month. Need to do more of this.
75. Get involved with local Transition Towns group. Nope. Can't see that happening.
76. Take a pole-dancing class. Done!
77. Assemble a first aid kit for the car. Great idea! Need to do this.
78. Have a productive vegetable garden year-round. I wish. I did notice that my broad beans have sprouted over the last few days which is a progress.
79. Complete a scuba diving course. Let's replace this with "Take up rock and ice-climbing."
80. Learn to garden organically. Still to do.
81. Reduce food wastage. I would like to think I've done this but I think I still fail as I find containers in the fridge with yucky stuff in them.
82. Visit my parents twice a year. Big fail. I never seem to have any annual leave as I'm always off on outdoor adventures.
83. Write an “if anything ever happens to me” letter. Need to do this.
84. Clean out and organise my filing system. Still to be done.
85. Check my car's oil and water every month. hahahaha Once a year perhaps!
86. Change the oil and oil filter at least annually. Oh. Did this. Once in the last 4 years is ok right? Plus, apparently the bung in my sump is.... um.... bung and can't be removed easily so may never happen again. I am sure the car will die before it needs to be done anyway.
87. Once a month meet a different friend for lunch. Not doing too badly on this.
88. Clean out the dreaded box of cables. Nope. It sits in the corner glaring at me. One day.
89. Swim in a lake, a river, the sea and a pool. Done!
90. Wear matching underwear at least once a week. hahahaha I reckon as long as I wear clean underwear then that is good enough.
91. Put $10 in a jar for each completed task. Not done.
92. Try geocaching. Nope. Maybe.
93. Donate to one new charity each year (ongoing). Nope. I am rethinking charity donations.
94. Take more photos. Yes!
95. Take an art class. I did this!
96. Visit a waterfall I haven't been to before. Done!
97. Write a positive thought down every day for a month. Nope. But I do think positive thoughts every day.
98. Kiss in the rain. Done!
99. Mid-winter swim. Done!
100. Write my name in the sand and take a photo of it. Done!
101. Bake bread once a month - new recipe each month. I now bake bread several times a week. Same recipe every time because I found a gluten free recipe that works and don't want to go back to producing bricks.

Not bad I reckon. I wrote this list at a time when I needed to figure out some direction to go in. These days I am so happy with the life I have and enjoy what I have got and what I am doing, that I don't know that I need a list anymore. I reevaluate life often and I think that's the key.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tararua adventures

I've just had a wonderful weekend up in the Tararua Range. On Friday I headed up to the road end at Holdsworth to join up with a group to have my initial assessment with Mountain Safety Council as a step on the pathway to becoming an instructor with them.

We arrived at the carpark at 7pm, carried out some introductions then walked into Donnelly Flats to set up camp for the night. I had opted to carry a bivvy bag rather than a tent. This saved on weight and I figured it was only me for the night so I didn't need a larger shelter.

After completing a few tasks it was time to settle down for the night. I had packed my 4-season sleeping bag with the thought that it might be a little chilly in the night. Lucky I did as we had a really hard frost overnight. I woke in the morning to find ice on the outside and inside of my bivvy bag. I was snug and warm in my sleeping bag though so was happy enough - until I had to get up and dressed. It was super cold. That cup of tea and plate of porridge was extremely welcome. Here's a picture of part of the campsite in the morning. My bivvy bag is on the right with my sleeping bag poking out of it.

The ground looks white... because it is! Brrrrr!

After breaking up camp the plan for the day was to walk along the Atiwhakatu Track, walk up the spur track to the Mountain House Shelter, have lunch and then descend back to the carpark down the Gentle Annie Track. While completing these we would be checked out by the instructors on specific aspects of navigation, group management, etc.

After the chilly start, the weather was fantastic so the walk itself was enjoyable. It was pretty slow going with lots of stops to cover aspects of navigation, environment, etc. After a lunch break at the Mountain House Shelter we headed down Gentle Annie with a stop at Rocky Lookout on the way down. We ended the day back at the car park with a debrief.

At this stage I turned round and headed back up the Gentle Annie track as I was due to meet up with my partner and his kids at Powell Hut. It took about two and a half hours to walk back up there and it was pretty much dark when I arrived. Powell Hut is just above the bushline. The following pictures are of the hut and the view from the hut.

There was quite a crowd in the hut for the night (that's the downside of huts being a short walk from a roadend) so it was pretty rowdy and busy. The next morning the weather was still looking good so we packed up and headed uphill to Mt Holdsworth. I bought a new camera a couple of weeks ago so am still playing around with settings. One thing it can do is panorama photos so I was trying that out and got really hooked on taking those. Anyway, here are some photos.

We had a snack break at the top of Mt Holdsworth before descending to the Atiwhakatu Track via the East Holdsworth Track. That track was pretty steep and a little rugged in places but it was pleasant walking through the bush hearing the birdsong on the way down. After meeting up with the Atiwhakatu Track we had a lunch break on the river before heading back to the car.

All in all it was a great weekend and nice to get up on the tops in such good weather - especially considering it's the middle of winter!