Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's All Downhill With Heli-hiking

View from Table Mountain, Cape Town

Last week there was an article in my local newspaper about a particular branch of glamping called heli-hiking. This involves taking a helicopter up to some scenic outlook, and then making your way back to civilization with a guided hike. If you have to ask how much it costs, you probably can't afford it!

My first reaction to this was to label it "cheating". After all, those who slog their way up the hill to the scenic outlook have earned the view - those who flew up in a helicopter have not!

On the other hand, there are lots of places around the world where people take a cable car or some other mode of transportation up a hill and then wander their way back down. The only difference with heli-hiking is that the location may be more remote or challenging.

Admittedly, I used a similar "cheat" in Cape Town, although the other way around. After slogging our way up the steep, rocky path to the top of Table Mountain, we took the Cable Car back down to the bottom to save our knees (and some time.)

Cable Car on Table Mountain

In the end, everyone has their own limits, and their own idea of how much effort is enjoyable and how much is just suffering for the sake of suffering. The only time I would rail against the heli-hikers is if they start using areas that are popular with regular hikers, and ruin the atmosphere with their noisy flights.

Anyone out there been on a heli-hike? I'd be curious to hear what you thought of it. Leave a comment.

Monday, November 16, 2009

7 in 7 Challenge Update

A while back I blogged about a trail runner named Mal Law who is doing an absolutely insane fundraising challenge called the Mizone 7 in 7 Challenge.

The challenge: Run 360kms through iconic New Zealand landscapes, traversing the 7 Great Walks in just 7 days, to raise $50,000 for the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation.

The start of Mal's big run is just two weeks away, and it seems fundraising efforts are going well. He's already past the $43,000 mark. And Mal assures me that the costs involved with the run are all covered by his team and sponsors, so the money donated will all go to the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation.

If you're keen to support Mal's madness, or just want to follow along, he has a website and a Facebook group.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Don't believe everything you read!

Someone has been up to some mischeif down here in New Zealand recently. On the famous Routeburn Track, visitors have been greeted with official looking signs laying down some unusual toileting rules.
Photo: Southland Times

The signs are fakes, and have been removed by actual Department of Conservation staff. But it's not yet clear how many visitors were thinking they'd have to wear a diaper on their tramp!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Just for Fun

This one is making the rounds by e-mail, but here it is if you've missed it:

Friday, November 06, 2009

Going the Distance in Australia

Cape York (photo: Government of Queensland)

Sometimes it's easy to forget just how big Australia is. It's around the size of the lower 48 states in the US, but with less than 10% of the population. That sure leaves a lot of room to go "walkabout"!

There are already some pretty long walks available around Aussie. There's the Bubbulmun Track, which covers nearly 1000km from the outskirts of Perth to the southern coast. There's also the Larapinta Trail, just 225km long but starting in the outback town of Alice Springs and heading through some of the hottest desert conditions you could ever hope to encounter.

Now there's a new trail in the works, and it will encompass some very different scenery and climate than the existing trails. Up at the tippy top of Queensland near Cape York, there is a plan to create The Dreaming Trails. (The Dreaming is the aboriginal Australian creation mythology, which encorporates features of the landscape into tales of how the earth was formed.)

Rather than a single route, The Dreaming Trails are meant to incorporate a 2,000km network of walking tracks. This approach may give them much more flexiblity to offer different levels of difficulty, different scenery and conditions, and different types of facilities to cater to a wide range of visitors.

It all sounds very lovely, and they're looking for input to figure out what kinds of things hikers and bushwalkers are looking for in these trails. So if you're keen, go to their website and take 5 minutes to go through their survey. Who knows, they may end up creating the trail of your dreams!