All 13 entries tagged Hiking
March 25, 2007
Location: Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
So my three posts a week went straight out of the window. I do have a good reason, having spent a night and a day on a mountain, hiking over the middle of an active volcanic area in glorious weather. It was an adventure at short notice, and it turned out to be a very brilliant idea. Again, I have to document it better sometime in the future, sometime soon…
First though, I have a lot of work to catch up on, having left on Friday afternoon and arriving back only hours ago…
March 14, 2007
Here’s a couple more photos from the hike I’ve just received off Jens.
Here are the Korokoro falls, after heavy rainfall and a break in the rain.
Crossing a bridge in the glorious sunshine of the final day…
This was just a quickie so I don’t lose the thread… it’s Christmas next!
March 06, 2007
Lake Waikeremoana Hike – Day 3 of 4
Yes, this is the third day, I pretty much wrote this on the evening of the third day in one go, so I thought it would be a good place to start as I don’t have many photos from the walk until Jens gives me a CD with them on.
‘How did it get so cold?’ I thought to myself that morning as blue sky pierced through the room’s uncovered panes of plastic glass. During the night I had almost boiled myself in my own artificial skin of a sleeping bag yet found myself reaching for a shirt as soon as the dawn came.
The door to the other bunk room repeatedly slammed as the kids woke up and did their daily rituals, which seemingly consisted of flitting endlessly between one room and the next.
I kept my head down, ignoring that half awake state you reach after the first disruption of the morning, unable to sleep anyway due to the movements of the other inhabitants.
Suddenly, it was over, the parents/guardians had ushered them out of the hut to the sunshine, an early start on a journey reportedly requiring five hours. We were making good time on our treks, shaving the previous days’ times from six down to four, allowing this extra hour or two of bed-in.
The tenth hour came and with it a stretch and a shiver. Jonas had already nipped out to the lake for a wake-up bath and I endeavoured to follow suit. To say it was cold would be a very accurate statement, but that would go without mentioning the fact that, hell yeah, it did wake you up. Walking out a fresh water lake is a pretty good feeling to wake up to, especially with a long hike ahead.
Breakfast came eventually, a platter of fruit slices and welcome cups of coffee (you have to wake your brain up as well as your body) followed by that most ugly of morning dishes, oatmeal. It’s only saving grace today (and yesterday… and the day before) was the garnishing of raisins to save it from it’s obvious cardboard origins.
The only remaining occupants were the two German girls who had tracked us from day zero. They were drying out socks and preparing for the rainclouds that had suddenly turned the sky grey minutes before out of nowhere. We finished our meal alone, our boots warming by the wood fire and towels from our swim hanging by, contemplating the best moments between the showers in which to start our walk. It didn’t take long to pack our bags, it never really did, especially now that two of our four day supplies had been taken up. And even more so due to the fact our first meal was steak and potatoes (you could have smelt the envy in the hut on the first night, or maybe it was the socks…). I tossed a die that was homemade the afternoon before, from duct tape and journal paper, to decide whether or not to wear the overpants to fight the weather. It was a four, which meant ‘No’, and was half relieved after spending the previous day’s hike with sweat running down my shins.
At last we left, a spittle of rain trying its luck as we greeted some trampers at the camping facilities whilst settling down for lunch. They had arrived from the Panekiri hut still in good spirits, but their laughter seemed a bit too much for Jens’ liking.
‘They’re laughing about us. Well, I can say that we don’t have to wear stupid looking tights to cope with this weather.’ he muttered.
‘Stop being so paranoid, maybe they were actually just being friendly for a change.’ I replied, knowing that Jens’ mood tends to align with the weather.
‘You’re probably right.’
We crossed a field, wet reeds slapping my lower legs making me wonder whether putting my fate in the hands of a homemade die was a wise choice. It seemed to be the night before when betting against Jens’ in the previous night for the last biscuit, but the jury was still out today.
Sure enough, the clouds made their decision and the dribble turning into a more serious mist (the kind of rain Peter Kay would say ‘soaks you through’). The path followed the lakeside quite loyally but the insistent downpour marred any views that could’ve been there. Despite the weather though, we decided to take a detour towards the impressive Korokoro Falls, worth the 45 extra minutes of river crossing and tree clambering. Even the rain let up for a minute allowing some rare photos to be taken of the walk, and allowing me to show off my Burnley shirt for a change at an attempt to maybe get my picture in the fanzine, and laugh at the attempt to spell ‘Waikeremoana’ for the caption. Afterwards though, we still at least two and a half hours of walking remaining, we were barely halfway.
A swingbridge lightened the thoughts a little as we swayed above an inlet to the lake but soon the hypnotic task of putting one foot after the other buried its way into the mind. Under the conditions it can never be considered an easy task either, with greasy roots and hanging branches trying your concentration whenever it was likely to slip. Fair to say my attention was diverted, having no real occupation for my thoughts other than to organise my holiday, a practical impossibility from the middle of nowhere whilst on the move. So I composed epic songs in my head, sounds building up in waves, another pointless endeavour other than to amuse myself with dreams of their grand reproduction on stage. It got to the stage where I was walking in a daze, oblivious to changing terrain, slopes and rivers, stones and shores, reeds and trees all passing by and blending in with no more than a moments notice. We barely met a soul on the track (adding to the trance) until we came across the German girls again, who stood aside morose as our troop marched on towards a distant, invisible goal.
It was possible to tell the point where things started to get heavy; hands retreated into sleeves, heads drooped a little. My hat and proven very effective at keeping the rain out so far, but now the occasional tear rushed down my forehead. It wasn’t cold however, my bare legs would’ve given up the ghost long ago if that had been the case, and the sheer volume of exercise kept us warm anyhow. The clouds had even broken the usual jovial intermittent conversation. No jokes at the expense of out fellow travellers, no ponderings about the possible appearance and presence of dinosaurs, and no absurd marching songs (English AND German), that had long been the staple of our hiking diet. It was dire, that was easy to say, my musical thoughts and moved on to forgoing all my past sins and to start working more for what I loved, including my degree and it would all begin as soon as I got back. A noble thought perhaps, but as I was planning my rehabilitation to a better life we came across a sign ‘Marauiti Hut: 1hr’. It broke me out of the foolish illusion and gave us at least some bearing on our progress so far. It also brought us by the original group we greeted at the start of our journey, it didn’t click until later that they must’ve skipped our detour altogether to rush past us.
We were in no mood to stop any more though. It was no longer a case of how wet we were, that milestone had long been passed. It just became a furious intent to reach the next hut. The gear stepped up and our gait raised from a trot to almost a gallop. Even when the track got muddier, we carried on and 20 minutes short of our target time, we were within sight of the hut.
After the relative luxury of the last bush accommodation, this was a surprise, but there was no disappointment, because it didn’t draw away from the fact that this place would actually keep us warm and dry for the coming night…
March 02, 2007
18th December – Lake Waikeremoana
As I said before, it rained the day before we were due to go on a four day hike around a lake, so moods weren’t especially pleasant. On the way, we bumped into a German cyclist, Sven, who was slowly working his way around the North Island completely on two self-powered wheels. We had previously bumped into him at the East Cape, giving him a lift to see the sunrise, and because we obviously didn’t need quite the same early start as him to go the distance, we overtook him twice over the next two days looking a little forlorn in the murky weather. Which made us feel better anyway.
When we reached Gisbourne (apparently a town of sunshine, but not then), we bought a large crate of alcohol along with our supplies so that when we got to Lake Waikeremoana (after miles and miles of gravel roads) we worked ourselves into a merry state whilst arranging our packs. Jens is desperately trying to keep a straight face into his journal while I model some tasty looking goggles…
January 05, 2007
12th-14th December – Fletchers Bay
Travelling again, what can I say? The scenery towards the Coromandel was as beautiful as always, it helped that the sun had come along for the journey and we were still fresh from our initial rest back in Auckland. The only real difference I can muster is that the waters were greener here, and maybe the beaches were brighter.
After a burger stop in Thames, we paused briefly in the strange town of Coromandel, which had a fake air of tourist-ness about it, with Cowboy western style billboards above the shops and it was almost too clean for a town that was almost nowhere. It was pleasant enough, it just didn’t seem like this was how the town had always existed, and any original charm had been laminated and painted over in bright primary colours. We moved on, past the collection of homes called Colville and on to a real unsealed coastal road, towards the very tip of the peninsula. There were old Pohutakawa trees (another one for the Kiwi encyclopaedia) lining the side of the road, hungover with their wrinkly branches, almost sculpture like in some of their appearances. Goats and bulls idly appreciating the view with us as we passed by. Stony bay after stony bay passed until we eventually headed inland, up through the valleys where these gorgeous trees were in blossom, their strong red flowers really an amazing sight. It’s hard to keep describing things here without falling back on my key words of surreal and crazy or Microsoft Word’s various synonyms.
We made it down to the furthest bay accessible from the west, Fletcher’s Bay, a quiet campsite in the middle of a bay between two large hillsides. First thing’s first, as was dictated by the agreement we made before our journey, we have to get the campchairs out, line them up facing the sea, and open can of beer. Marvellous. Perfect. Life of Riley (and whatever other Lightning Seeds hits you can think of). The best agreement I could ever hope to make anyway.
The order has to go like this, beer, tents, food. By the time we began to prepare the food, the light was fading and the wind began to pick up, but more on that later. The sky was clear, and stars began turning up as we munched on our Salami Tikka Pasta (don’t ask). Not quite as brilliant as the Pinnacles view, but getting there. In the distance you could just about see Great Barrier Island while the light still lasted, seeming to be only minutes away before remembering the bloody 5-hour barge we had to endure. I should mention that my Australian friend Jono let me borrow his tent (although how I’m going to get it back to him I don’t know), and it’s been a godsend, easy to use and hopefully will last the whole summer. Unfortunately on this maiden adventure, I completely ignored where the wind was blowing and put the tent up in a random direction. The wrong direction. All night the wind battered the side of the one-pole tent and pretty much inverted the shape of the thing, with me still inside. I did eventually get bored of having a tent as a second sleeping bag, and rotated it at something like 3 a.m., when the stars really came out.
It wasn’t a pleasant morning after, but jumping in the sea as a primary activity definitely made it fresh. Our goal was to complete the Coromandel Peninsula walkway loop of about 6 hours, so naturally we got up as late as possible, and began just as a scout group were arriving in from the other side at Stony Bay. The walk began in English farmland, sheep and cows what sheep and cows do, all over the hillsides. The wind picked up and Jens almost lost his hat amongst the fields. Mine was firmly wedged on my head. Further along there was this rather fancy toilet that for some odd reason looked abandoned, but it sure beats that one in Trainspotting. Over the top of the peninsula, the English surroundings gave way to jungle like flora, leading down by steep rock paths that were supposedly called a mountain bike track. After passing a stream, the jungle gave way back to farmland, and more Pohutakawa sculptures lining the path. And suddenly, we were at Stony Bay, and it was a pretty accurate description. Again more sheep (or ‘sheeps’ according to Jens, just like ‘fishes’) hung around for our lunch, some accompanied by riding gulls. Jonas spent about 20 minutes throwing sticks in various directions in an attempt to herd some sheep together for a group photo, unfortunately now without bird partners, but the result is quite sweet.
Leaving the picnic area, and heading back on the coastal route, we passed a kid travelling with his grandpa. It was quite an amusing return back to those trips when you young, completely deferent to whatever was going on around you and just concentrating on when you were going to be ‘there’, wherever there was, and generally being a pain in the ass. Haha, I can’t say I never feel like that now, but right now I was just enjoying the ever-changing surroundings between jungle and forest as we made our way around the hills we had spent the early afternoon trekking over. For that reason it took a similar time, a longer but easier path, with various sidepaths showing off the clifftop views. I have to mention not having a camera is still a pain, because I’d have to wait every five minutes whilst Jens or Jonas or both of them were fiddling around with settings and lenses trying to catch a good photo. It is definitely worth taking the time though because if you’re going to capture it somehow, it may as well be decent.
The sun began its descent and we just made it back in time to cook dinner in light. That wasn’t before a very cold shower in the outdoor cubicles, not quite sending me numb, but bloody cold nonetheless. My tent newly orientated, the wind didn’t quite make a mess as the night before, and I managed to get a bit more sleep before we arose to peanut butter and jam sandwiches (umm, just jam for me thanks) and kiwi fruits for breakfast. We had to travel the road (or track might be a more appropriate term) we came in on, but at least we managed to dodge the owner from collaring us for our second night’s fees. We were now on our way down the east coast of the Coromandel peninsula, and heading for whatever we could find by the time it was dark…
_Damnit, whoever screwed up the centring of images needs a slap :( _