Thursday, August 2, 2012

By the pale moonlight

Last night Tim and I went out for a stroll.  This stroll was along a 11km trail through the Kaimai Mt Range just past Katikati which is up Hwy 2 from where we live by about 30 minutes.  As it was night there are no pictures, but lets just say that the moon was in her full glory and our headlamps were out shined in several spots along the dense trail.  However, once you got into the bush we would have been helpless without them.  Our stroll started at 7pm at the end of a steep road and a gated fence.  Once again, I felt I had to be prepared so I was wearing my Tight bag with a few essentials.  I had my rain gear, extra batteries, knife, implements for fire (no fire would have been possible as we have been getting drenched daily for what seems like weeks), emergency food, about 2 liters of water, and my first aid kit.  Thanks Kyle and Bethany!  Tim on the other hand went in with an extra layer, compass, and fire tools as well.  He was also wearing gaiters, short sleeve wool shirt, and pants.  Me?  I was in shorts and a long sleeve synthetic top.  I was sweating before we even started walking. 

So here we are on a trial I have never been to and he has done several times.  Albeit in the daytime.  He leads and I follow.  The path is well defined, but I ask about how easy it is to loose the trail.  He responds you must be some kind of idiot to loose it.  Those are some words he'll have to eat in about 2.5 hrs.  The beginning of the route is up a gnarly hill that is made worse because of all the rain.  We didn't have pools of water like we would encounter later, but it was slick.  Did I mention I basically have 2 glass ankles and I have had my acl replaced twice?  We didn't put our heads down and just soldier on.  Instead we chatted about a variety of things like the upcoming K2 bike ride, the Taupo Cycle Challenge, 42nd Traverse, climbing, and where I'm looking to live as Beth's departure is quickly approaching. 

We summit the hill in about 25 minutes and then start to weave around the backside in a gully.  Tim makes the comment about not falling to the left in an upcoming section.  He said you'll know it when we get there as there is nothing to the left.  I'm thinking to myself, "Oh great, I don't have the best of night vision and I'm on a flipping ledge that goes to some place far down from here."  The trail could have been a really ankle breaker, but I just kept trying to step down diligently before moving my back foot.  For the most part this strategy worked, until my back foot would slip.  It was shortly after the summit that I started to track how many times, I got water in my boot.  It felt like I was finding all the puddles that went up halfway up my calf.  I'm glad I was in shorts as I hate dragging around wet pants.  We would stop from time to time to gaze into the evening sky and marvel at the light being cast from the moon.  We could read our watches by its light alone and see the shadows casted on the ground from the fence post (this was at the end of the night).  I would gently sip from time to time from the water bladder on my back.  Hey Skog, if you are reading this: Bring my platypus bladder when you come in a couple weeks!  Tim on the other hand would guzzle water at the rivers that we had to cross.  The water did appear to be clear and was very fast moving.  It is really disconcerting to hear what you imagine to be rapids as you navigate in the dark only to find that the echos are being bounced all-a-round to make it sound much worse.  I think the deepest "river" we crossed was maybe ankle high. 

As the night progressed our conversations started to dwindle.  I kept thinking to myself, could I do this all night long after mountain biking, and kayaking?  And then do those again?  Why am I thinking of this?  Adventure racing is the reason.  Macpac is sponsoring the airing of a race series here and I have been watching it.  Granted I knew about it before hand, but watching it makes me want to do it.  I'm even tried to talk some of my friends in getting a team together for an event before I head back.  We get to about the quarter way mark and it says you still got 3 hours left.  Huh?  We've been at it for an hour and we are only a quarter of the way done.  I didn't think we were moving terribly slow.  We picked up the pace and shot back into the woods after Tim had a little snack.  We are moving with more urgency as we want to finish the 3 hour portion well under that speculative DOC approximation.  We have gotten into a rhythm and only taking the occasional stumble or tumble on the track.  My shorts are now covered in mud and my bum is a bit wet.  Tim and I joke that we should have kept a running total of the number of times we fell and the person with the highest tally at the end would have to do something humiliating.  I fired back that I was counting the number of times my boots got wet, but I stopped caring after 6. 

We have been on the trail now for 2.5 hours when I hear Tim utter something from up around the bend.  I quickly get up to him only to see what appears to be the wreckage of a landslide.  There are broken trees, mounds of freshly turned soil, and what sounds to be a raging river underneath. 

Mom you might want to stop reading now. 

We decided to climb up the debris to find where the trail was/is.  Tim scampered up the mound and I was following about 3 meters behind.  I knew I was on a precarious stump when it fell out from under my foot.  Did I mention the river and it being a lot of debris?  I quickly grabbed whatever stump and branch I could find as I didn't know how far it was to the bottom.  Lets just say my feet didn't hit anything solid and I had to us my upper body strength to pull myself up.  The branch I used wasn't all that stable as Tim was quick to point out as he must have heard my squeal and turned around.  I got to solid ground and had to take a breather.  I stayed put about 5 meters from where the trail ended.  Tim went scouting for the trail on the other side of the river.  This went on for shorter than I was imagining as I kept looking at my watch.  I kept thinking its going to be another 2.5 hours back to the trail head and that doesn't take into account how nasty that hill is going to be on the way down instead of up.  I was going to give Tim 20 minutes to find the trail before saying we are turning around.  After about 10 he yelled back that he had found it about 50 meters from where I was at. 

After some scurrying we were back on the trail and talking about how it would have sucked to have to turn around.  I guess I should mention that Tim was concerned at the beginning of the night about the river we would have to cross at the end of the trail.  With all the rain we have been getting and knowing that the highway just down the road had flooded and traffic couldn't get through just last week.  I was a bit concerned as well.  That would mean, turning around and scurrying over the debris field and doing basically the entire trail in reverse.  As the river is probably in the last 1-2 km of the trail.  We were talking up how regardless the size of the river we are going to cross it and get this evening over as we were both getting hungry.  I wasn't at the hangry stage, but hunger was definitely starting to creep in.  After our little find the trail excitement, we were moving at a quicker pace, I would bet it was the adrenaline.  We quickly passed over a pathetic sized river, but it had an awesome waterfall that made it sound really impressive even though it wasn't.  We started to round a bend that Tim knew as familiar as there as a length of barb wire fence that signaled that the river was close.  We could hear it in the distance and turned the corner expecting to see a raging river.  Once again, it was nothing.  We joked about linking arms and wading in hip to hip for the river crossing as the water was blazing fast and waist deep.  In reality you could have taken a short leap and crossed the banks or step into the below ankle water and take 2 careful steps.  You are still on wet rocks.

The last few minutes fly by and we talk about having weekly runs on Monday nights and then climbing on Thursday and some other activities on the weekends.  I guess I know how I'll survive without Beth.  I'm going to miss her and it wont be easy, but I always seem to find a partner in crime.   I have a long list of them, but the ones that come to mind are Otis, Dale, and Skog.  Anytime I wanted to do something that was a little odd, Beth would always point me in their direction.

As I got into work this morning, I told Lynda that I was up in her neck of the woods last night.  She said "Really?  What for?"  I replied that my mate and I did the Linderman Track last night by head torch.  She made the comment that there are words for people like you.  I quickly responded "Nutters" and she just nodded her head in agreement.


  1. You forgot to bring your lap top
    A must on any hike

  2. So is protein powder and an empty bottle, but alas I don't follow the Mr. Palm way of hiking survival.