Sunday, December 23, 2007

December's Delightful Dayhikes

Penn Creek near Otaki Forks

OK, so the plan was to go for a tramp last weekend. The near-perfect weather forecast seemed to practically demand it! But then on Thursday I came down with a cold, and by Friday G was also getting sniffly - so we decided to scale back and do a couple of day hikes instead.

Our first hike was to Field Hut in the Tararuas. A return journey up the ridge and down again. The second was a more subdued wander around the Rimutakas, along the Orongorongo and Big Bend tracks. We walked about 5 hours each day, so we're slowly getting our legs ready for more serious endeavours.
Slip along the Orongorongo Riverbed, and flowering Northern Rata tree above

No matter how often you hike, there are always new things to learn. So here are some of the things I learned last weekend:

You can't just rely on your map:
I had been eyeing what appeared to be a convenient loop route from Otaki Forks up to Field Hut, then down the Penn Creek Track to Penn Creek Hut, and continuing along the creek back to the start. I couldn't understand why I'd never heard about people doing this loop, when it looked so perfect for a weekend. When we arrived at Field Hut, however, we saw a big sign explaining that the Penn Creek Track was unstable in places and several people had recently been rescued from there. Aha! The map doesn't always tell t he whole story.
Field Hut

An ounce of prevention is worth your left foot:
My new boots are rubbing against my heels, which is annoying and potentially very painful. To prevent it getting too bad, I've been using some first aid tape on my heels whenever I hike. But when I put it on Saturday, I put it too high on my left foot, so the boot rubbed off all of the skin below it. Ouch! Needless to say, that had a lot to do with our choice of a flatter hike on Sunday. Uphill had become a rather painful prospect.
The Orongorongo River

Look out for lawyers:
Well at least in New Zealand there aren't any ambulance chasers. But there is a rather nasty plant I'm told is called "Bush Lawyer" (not its botanical name, but I can never remember those anyway.) As I was coming down from the ridge on Saturday, this thorny plant grabbed onto my pant leg and pulled several threads out of place. How rude!

I miss the ozone layer:
Down here in New Zealand the sun's rays are crazy strong. It seems no amount of sunscreen will completely protect my skin, especially once I start sweating from a big hike uphill in the heat! So most of the time I wear long sleeves and keep most of me covered up. It's a shame. I used to get such a nice tan in the summer. Sigh...

Anyway - ho ho ho and all that. Enjoy the sun or snow or whatever you're getting this holiday season!

1 comment:

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