Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Jumbo Blow To End the Year

On the last weekend in December, G and I decided to finally get out of the house after a week of disappointing holiday weather and go for a trip to Jumbo Hut in the Tararua Mountains.

Saturday was quite nice, cool but mostly sunny with just the odd bit of drizzle. The first few hours of walking were along a flat river valley, on a benched trail with bridges over the streams and rivers. All in all, a pleasant stroll.

The second half of the journey was much more strenuous. Uphill for two and a half hours! (Well, it's only supposed to take two hours, but after a month of not backpacking I'm a little out of shape...) We reached the hut near the mountain ridge just as the rain moved in.

Almost as soon as we were inside, the hut was enveloped by cloud. The rain began pelting down in earnest, and the wind howled across the ridge. Inside, the hut was deserted. Here we were on a weekend, right in the middle of Christmas break, and nobody else was there! (I guess they'd paid more attention to the weather forecast than we did.)

As much as I would have liked to take advantage of our isolation, it was so cold in the hut that night that being naked was just not an option. Instead we were both wearing every layer of clothing we brought, and crawled inside our sleeping bags as soon as dinner was finished. Well, almost. I did spend a bit of time trying to dry out my sweaty bra by holding it over a candle. While this method worked pretty well, and it was hilarious watching the steam rise from my bra, I got a little too close to the flame at one point and scorched my right cup!

The wind roared around us all night, and I was reminded why New Zealanders so often prefer huts to tents in this changeable climate. It was so blustery that I was startled awake a few times, convinced at one point that the wind had sounded exactly like a woman shrieking outside.
By morning things had improved a little. It was still cold and pretty windy, but the rain had all but stopped. Our hike down was cool and cloudy, and by the time we got to the bottom of the hill (after an hour and a half this time!) my legs were feeling pretty wobbly. We plodded on across the flatter part of the trail with as few stops as possible, choosing to wait until we were back on the road to grab lunch.

Both of us suffered from very stiff legs the next day. In fact, it took my quads three days to recover to the point where I was walking normally up and down stairs. It doesn't take long to lose your conditioning! Hopefully the weather will improve now, and we'll be able to get out there more often and keep in shape.

Happy new year everyone!

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