Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Real Mud, Sweat and Tears

This last weekend a group of 6 of us (Laura, Emma, Erin, Rachel, Marvin and I) did the Silver Peaks tramping trail that’s right outside of Dunedin. Having such bed weather during the last week I was hesitant to tag along but thankfully the forecast predicted sunny skies for Saturday at least.

We left Saturday morning around 8:30 getting one of our Kiwi-hosts to drop us off at the trail car park. We had a small printed topographic map between the 6 of us that could barely read it. We set off down a dirt road that was suppose to lead us to the actual trail head. Finally walking for over an hour and a half down the same dirt road we all realized that we were completely lost and no lie, at that very moment a pickup truck came up right behind us (we got very lucky on that one). It was a Kiwi and his two kids that I'm assuming went hunting that morning because they had one massive dead wild pig in the back of the pickup (nothing like a Saturday morning family outing going pig shooting). He explained to us that we passed the entrance to the trail 40 minutes ago... So we turned around and walked back to the beginning.

Starting off the trail wasn't bad at all! Not a big fan of the downhill but it was a moderate slope and was fairly  easy to maneuver down it. Finally reaching the bottom I realized why it was such an easy start! We had to cross this river with a freaking current so strong I thought that the girls were definitely goners. I made it across first put my pack down and went back to help each person across (making sure no one got swept away!) Finally all making it across safe and sound, it was all uphill from there.

Cabin built in the 50's
We reached a cabin at the top of the mountain where we stopped and had lunch (PB&J specialties). We set off only to reach another cabin 15 minutes down the trail. It was a shack built in the 1950's by the tramping club and boy was it scary. Mud floors, hay to sleep on, holes in the roof. No way would I be staying a night in there.

After the grimy cabin we reached some dense brush with these prickly bushes that cut my legs up so bad (wrong choice to wear shorts). The trail was infested with these "pricklies!" We met up with two internationals coming from  the opposite way. They were suppose to staying in Jubilee cabin (same one we were heading to) on the Friday night as we were heading there that Saturday night. Unfortunately they started the trail at 4pm Friday night (it gets dark at 5?) and couldn't find the cabin in the dark. They ended up sleeping on the trail... That would have been one cold night.

Finally getting to the end of the pricklies we were up along the ridge of the mountains and could see Jubilee cabin in the distance. Just a climb down into a valley, across another river (that had a pig carcass hanging over it) and we hit Jubilee! We were the only trampers there at that point. We made dinner, failed at starting a fire with all the wet wood and played spoons (with tea bags because we didn't have actual spoons).

As it was getting dark, another group of 5 Kiwi's showed up to the cabin with dry fire wood! (they carried it in). We enjoyed a nice fire made by them and star gazed with a bottle of wine and a scrumpy (scrumpy is an amazing Kiwi cider). It started to rain and we decided to head into bed after a long day of getting lost and hiking up and down mountains.

I wish I was making this part of the story up but at around 10:30pm footsteps came onto the porch of the cabin and everyone just stopped and waited for someone to come into the cabin. Doesn't a guy just dressed head to toe in camo, holding a rifle, come in wearing night vision goggles! I thought we were all dead. Turned out the guy was super awesome and even let us try his night vision goggles! (that's something that everyone should get the chance to try). Except I fell off the deck because you have no depth perception wearing them.

Waking up the next day was not cold at all because of how packed the cabin was! We got up had the classic PB&J breakfast with some homemade granola and set off down the trail again. Mr.Hunter decided to tag along with our group (and he ended up being real handy). First thing at 9am we had to go up against was the "Devil's Staircase" and yes it was definitely as bad as it sounds! It was a 340m super steep climb to the top. Just as we got to the top of the staircase the weather turned miserable which really sucked because there was no view! It was really cloudy and I had to bring out the rain gear.

The rest of the trail was a slow descent down from the top of the mountain and into the car park. Half of our group had not planned ahead for getting a ride back (I know, I was confused about that part too) But Mr.Hunter being the generous guy he was gave us a lift back into town!

 Great weekend with some awesome people!

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