I do love tramping (hiking), but some days are tougher than others. Not had any injuries, but have had a few memorable experiences…
Tongariro Northern Circuit, April 2014
The fact that the fully booked huts were half empty said something about the weather forecast for Easter 2014, with the remnants of Cyclone Ita bringing just a bit of rain. Day one to Mangatepopo Hut was mostly fine, but day two to Waihohonu Hut was a tough 5 & 1/2 hours to cover 20km through multiple heavy showers. Particularly memorable was descending past, hardly able to see, the turquoise Emerald Lakes, overtaking hoards of less well equipped day trippers doing the Tongaririo Alpine Crossing, clearly underestimating New Zealand weather. This was just a warm up for day three though, with the three hours it took me to complete the final 14km leg saying something about how keen I was to reach the end of the track. I was soaked completely through, including my boots from wading through river crossings, and was barely able to eat a much needed muesli bar as my fingers were too cold to open it, and once open I nearly broke a tooth trying to bite into the near frozen bar.
Tongariro Around the Mountain, April 2015
The hardest tramp I’ve done to date, in particular day three, in which 22km took me eight hours, due to endless valley ascents and descents. Descending The Cascades was probably the scariest experience I’ve had tramping and I was amazed that there isn’t a bypass option. It was a great relief to finally see the Whakapapaiti Hut, only for the track to take me in the opposite direction and up and down another four large hills for an hour before I could finally rest.
Abel Tasman Coastal Track, December 2015
Do not assume that because the Abel Tasman Coastal Track never rises more than 200m above sea level that it is easy. I learnt this the hard way walking / running in parts, 36km, three legs (Marahau to Awaroa Hut) of the track in one eight hour day in the middle of summer. The hills may not be particularly high but they can be steep and there are plenty of them. The discovery of a shower at Awaroa Hut was one of the high points of the trip.
Coastal Track, Royal National Park, Sydney, October 2015
After Abel Tasman the thought of walking 34km in a day, particularly carrying only a day pack, seemed quite reasonable. However add in almost no shade on a hot Sydney day, and blisters from wearing trainers rather than boots, and the picture changed somewhat. Further add a time constraint from the unusual situation of catching public transport at the end, a once every two hours train, and it became a pretty intense seven hour walk.
Milford Track, April 2015
Day three on the track at Mintaro Hut woke to news that 390mm of rain had fallen since 8pm the previous night (a season record). DOC have closed the track before with rainfall of 200mm, and the river before the next hut (Dumpling) was above the 4m high measuring gauge, so we were held at Mintaro Hut for an extra night. Despite the relentless rain however we were able to head up McKinnon Pass. Some amazing waterfalls but the only time I’ve been wetter is when swimming, and the shelter provided relief from the wind and rain, but not the cold. In retrospect I was lucky to not get hypothermia.
Kepler Track, December 2013
Despite setting off an hour after the first leavers from Luxmore Hut I arrived at Iris Burn Hut an hour before anyone else, pretty hungry after walking 15 km in three and a half hours (wasn’t much to see for most it other than cloud), and looking forward to a hot lunch. Unfortunately I had no matches with me, and the gas cookers (unlike those on the Routeburn I did before this) didn’t have lighters. It was a long hour’s wait for others to arrive.
Bungle Bungles, October 2015
Even at 7am it was over 40C in this spectacular part of northwest Australia. The 11km return walk to Whip Snake Gorge offered almost no shade from the relentless sun, and required walking at time through sand. By the time I got there I could understand how the dehydrated frogs felt!
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