Sunday, August 30, 2015

Te Aroha Mountain Summit: Day hike

Beth, Paula, Mike, Peter, and I

It has officially started. What? Our getting ready for the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk that is. A portion of the Ninja Tortoises is going to head out and tackle the 46km track over the 3 day long Labor Weekend. We have been discussing this outing for several months. We have booked our hut spots and are anxious to go, but there are a few with limited experience. So we have planned a few outings before hand. Our conversation is really just a continuation of the same email thread that we kick around all our group activities. Did you know that Google will only allow 100 consecutive responses to an email before it spins it off to its own thread?

Any way, Peter, freshly returned from his trip to the US on Friday afternoon, was picked up by Paula and Mike in Auckland early Saturday morning while Beth and I left Kinloch to a foggy start. We met in Te Aroha at 9:30 am  and departed right from the iSite. The plan was to summit the 952m track via the direct path up, located behind the local spa pools, and then taking the longer ridge track back. Shortly before getting to the Whakapipi lookout, we were already stripping off excess layers. We would be adding/removing the outer layer most of the day. This would be a common story all day as the weather fluctuated all day long. After leaving the lookout, the conversation dried up as the heart rates increased along with the steepness. This was only a temporary set back as we stopped for snacks and the trail leveled out a bit.

At the trig station
 We heard all about Pete's trip to the US, where he downhill mtb in Alaska. He ended up having some medical issues on a flight to Boston. He ended up passing out 3 times on the flight and ended up "getting off" the flight in Chicago. He ended up driving to Boston with strep. Evidently the congestion prevented his body from equalizing and he passed out. Mike and Paula talked about celebrating their meeting at flight school. With a flight school reunion in Matamata. We ate lunch at the trig station and talked more about the Great Walk.
Bearded Pete in surprise
We talked about what gear we have/could share on the trail. A good discussion was our trail recipes for tramp meals. For previous trips, I've made Beth and I a combination of couscous, dehydrated peas, Parmesan cheese, chicken bullion cube, and canned chicken for dinner. For breakfast, I had porridge with dried fruit. For my daily snacks, as I typically don't eat lunch, is salami and cheese. Beth opts for English muffins with cheese.

 We joked that we should have a color-coded spreadsheet of equipment people would be responsible to bring. We are now planning an over-night planned trip in a couple weeks. We will find a tramp that has a decent distance and an available hut for our next adventure. It is good to break in the others with a gentle day hike, followed by an over-night trip, and then a multi-day walk.
Is this thing on?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Whirlwind US review

It would be an understatement to say we're just tired. Not only have we been bouncing from airport to airport to get back to NZ, but we also spent several weeks back in the US. The trip was a whirlwind of seeing friends and family that I have not seen in several years. The last time I was back was 2.5 years ago. That was a whirlwind trip as well because after I got off the flight I had an email with a job offer that started in 2 weeks. So I didn't get to reconnect with that many people as it was packing house and trying to stay on the New Zealand clock.

Anyway, back to this trip. We tried to see our friend Steve right away in Saint Louis, but it didn't pan out. He is currently living in Missouri and interning during the week in St Louis. I could retell the tale of how a lot of rib places close early and that I didn't get ribs until Sunday.

  It was one of my desired meals in the US. We then picked up Sara the following day before heading to the Moll family reunion. There ended up being just under 40 people in attendance. It was also roughly 100 degrees and very humid. It probably felt worse to us as we just left a high of 50 and some frosty mornings.

We flew to Minneapolis on Sunday and were greeted by Jake, Asa, and June at the airport. The kids have changed quite a bit since I've seen them last. Asa was working on a loose tooth, but the entire time I was back, it didn't come out. We loaded our bags and picked Becky up before eating dinner at Punch. After which we dropped Beth off to see some of her friends at her former local watering hole in NE Minneapolis, The Palace. We then topped the night off with Izzy's ice cream and playing tag in a park.

The next morning we drove out to South Dakota to see the rest of the family. As well as some friends. We had a lovely dinner over at my friend Melissa's house where her husband grilled for us. Her sister Miranda and her boy even showed up. Their father used to teach me Taekwondo. Then my parents threw a pizza and pool party and invited over all the relatives in town. I got to see my other brothers and sister as well as some of my nephews and nieces. I stopped over at my sisters house to play peanut gallery to my nephew and his friends playing 2nd Edition D&D. It reminded me a lot of my high school years.

Next was a quick over night trip to Sioux Falls to see Otis, Zerf, and Geffre. Otis has sired a large rambunctious family. 2 dogs, twin 3 year olds, a 4 year old , and a step-son of 11. There was also a cousin over. So the noise level was off the charts. I don't think our lives could be more different. So we ended up grilling out and shooting the shit until the early morning. If you're a guy and ever meet Gabe, make sure your boys or pay the price. You have to be on DEFCON 5 around that one.

Now it is back to Minneapolis, where we spent the bulk of our time back. Beth left a little early to go see some friends in Vegas. Minneapolis involved seeing a lot of friends and family, consuming too much awesome food, riding my bike with friends, trail running, playing paintball, sailing, randomly running into an old high school friend twice (once at the trail running race and the other time at Vertical Endeavors for indoor climbing), and playing with Asa and June. I could go into more detail like above, but to rehash each day right now feels like a  pretty draining exercise. To those that I didn't get to see, I'm sorry. There is only so much I can cram into a short amount of time. Next time you will be first and those I did get to see count yourself lucky.  For the few that I saw multiple times, don't rub it in or others may get jealous.

I do have a video that I'm editing together of us sailing. Both Asa and June took a turn operating the camera, so I'm sure the video will be extra special. I know that Asa liked taking 30 FPS action shots. So I have to make some gifs out of some of those. I'll add the photos and video later as its been a week since we got back.

Now its back to work, training, and planning our Ninja Adventures. We have Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk planned for the end of October.