Saturday, 11 August 2012

To the Mountains!

Let me first explain that I have never really been on a hike (NZ - tramp) back in North America let alone a 3 day tramp! But after hearing so many stories from other international students I thought that I should definitely give it a try. So I bought an 80L tramping bag online, found a sleeping mat in my flat, made some granola and we were off for a weekend tramp!

Our group of 5 (Emma, Dooley, V, and Ryan) left on Friday August 3rd 2012 around 5pm, set out to conquer Mount Somers. It was a 4 hour drive and because we left super late we really couldn't see much of the drive. We stopped on the way at the Golden Arches for a burger and poor Ryan got harassed by a homeless man either because he wanted Ryan's Mcflurry or wanted Ryan to buy him a Mcflurry. We really couldn't understand past the drunken accent...

We made it to the car park just past 9pm, where it was pitch black, cold and it looked like it was going to start raining. Earlier in the year I met some amazing kiwis in one of my classes and they ended up lending me a 6 person tent for the semester! So this came in really handy at this point of the night yet I had not opened the tent bag to make sure everything was there, I was really just hoping it would be. We set the tent up underneath an enclosed area using the lights from the car to see (I filmed the whole set up using Tina) and thankfully all the parts were there. We all went straight to bed after the tent was complete. That night got so cold that V (who was using a thin summer sleeping bag) actually ended up sleeping in the car! I don't think any of us had that great of a sleep that night.

Saturday morning we started around just after 8am and we had an 8 hour day of hiking ahead of us (Just a side note, Ryan and I were using Asics running shoes for the entire tramp). I think the first 20 minutes of the tramp were the absolute hardest part of the entire trip! It was all up a real muddy trail on a super steep incline and all I could think to myself was "what did I get myself into?" Finally it leveled out and we were all really relieved.

At that peak we were almost level with the mountain beside us and it was breathtaking (definitely worth the hard ass trek up the hill). From the peak we headed back down into a valley and walked along there from a good amount of time (all while playing 1,2,3 Contact which I must was a pretty awesome game). The Valley led us straight into a forested area where the path was literally a stream running down a hill and since Ryan and I were wearing Asics runners it was more of a game of jumping from rock to rock trying to keep our feet dry. Unfortunately there were some pretty big soakers along this path, nothing we couldn't handle though.

We head up another peak out of the forest and hit snow! Climbing through the 2 feet of snow with wet shoes wasnt the highlight of the day. Everyone kept falling into the snow and Dooley even took a wipe-out.

V, Ryan, Dooley, Emma, Me

We finally hit the cabin at the midway point for lunch and everyone seemed very anxious to eat. Looking at the log-book at the cabin it seemed that people from all over the world have done this trail but i think we had them beat! (Emma & Ryan - America, Dooley - England, V - South Africa and of course Canada!)

After lunch we headed into more valleys that were enclosed by massive mountains on either side. Tramping for over two hours we saw our cabin that we were staying at in the distance. All being so relieved we thought the day was almost over! Little did we know we still had a whole mountain ridge to climb up and down and cross a raging river. Climbing up that mountain we all thought we were heading in the wrong direction or that we saw the wrong cabin (Nope, that's where the path actually was) We ended up stopping for afternoon tea at the top of the mountain (its more like a snack, we didn't have actual tea - Kiwi Lingo) Climbing back down the mountain we all just looked for the furthest marker we could see and started walking towards it, making our own path! (Just wanting to get to the cabin). Finally we started heading to a reasonable elevation where we found a river that seemed to have no crossing. Ryan went through the bush and hopped across some rocks with no problem so I tried to follow him and I went for a little dip. It ended up being for the best because when Dooley crossed her glasses fell in the water so I ended up going back in to get them (It was a tad chilly)

And before we even reached the cabin we had to cross a bridge that looked like it was from an Indiana Jones movie. It was real cool, but super rickety.

Finally made it to the cabin! started a fire and got some pasta cooking! Ryan and I being the "tramping experts" that we are  forgot plates, a fork, and everything else; so it was a romantic dinner of us eating out of the spaghetti pot together (we found forks in the cabin). It was a great night roasting marshmallow hearts over the fire and I have never seen a sky full of so many stars in my life. Everyone was pretty tired from the 8 hour day, so it was also an early night to bed.

Waking up the next day wasn't as cold as the Saturday morning was because the fire kept us warm for the majority of the night. We all packed our stuff up, cleaned up the cabin and set off for a 6 hour day of tramping. Of course the first thing is another massive hill to climb up! But I finally realized the higher you go the better the view is! and it was long way up (amazing view).

We then started tramping along the side of the mountain and casually passing a "Bus Stop" sign? It was probably the most random thing I've seen in a while. We then made it to the cabin we were staying at for lunch and we really only had two hours more until we were back at the car park (all anyone could talk about for the entire day was how good KFC is going to be when we are done). The last leg of the tramp was all within a dense forested area passing streams and waterfalls (reminded me of a Canadian forest). And within an hour and a half to go we had our first conversation with another group of people! It was a large family that stayed a night in the cabin we just came from having lunch at (the older sister did not look happy at all to be doing this tramp). Finally seeing a clearing Ryan and I just ended up running the rest of the hike really just using the trees to slow us down on the hills (EXTREME TRAMPING!).

We made it back to the car park just under 5 hours (took almost an hour off our time that day). And the first stop on the way home was definitely KFC (I wasn't man enough to attempt the Double Down though). At this point my poor Asics were so destroyed I conformed to being a kiwi for the rest of the day (barefoot styles).

 The weather for the entire trip was beautiful! The forecast did call for some rain but we were lucky enough to not see it at all. I feel that it was an amazing first experience tramping, I learned so much being out there (like I should've brought a fork and plate) and had so much fun doing it. I Cant wait to get back into the trails!

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