The setting sun washes the Forbes Range in a pink rinse. From my vantage point just outside the red corrugated iron walls of Esquliant Bivvy the twin peaks of Earnslaw/Pikirakatahi and O’Leary have also acquired a rosy tinge. My eyes are drawn to the dark colossus known as Pluto Peak which dominates the foreground. On a mild, still summer evening it’s easy to forget how inhospitable mountains can be.
The hardest thing about the Kepler is getting in.
Race entries open at 6.30am NZT on the first Saturday in July. The event takes place the first Saturday in December. You need to be an early riser, have access to a good browser and be in possession of superior typing skills. Even then, you stand a good chance of receiving a cheerful email from the Kepler Team informing you that you are on the waitlist. The event sells out in a few minutes. Continue reading “The Kepler – the gift that keeps on giving”
Back in November 2014 I ran the Aorangi Undulator, a choice local event in the Aorangi Forest Park on the outskirts of Wellington.
I enjoyed it so much I resolved to return in 2015 for the three-day version. The A100 is run by the same group of trail running enthusiasts who organise the Undulator. The 2014 attrition rate seemed high and the survivors appeared to pick up more than their fair share of injuries. The uncertain nature of the challenge appealed to my sense of adventure. I thought it would be a good test of my endurance and organisational skills and a great way to support an innovative local event while contributing to conservation in the Aorangi Forest Park. The fact that many of my fellow entrants were mates helped. I wouldn’t be doing a strange thing surrounded by strangers.
I’m sure many runners have dreamed of linking Wellington’s extensive network of ridgelines together into a single trail circumnavigating the urban fringes to showcase everything the city has to offer in terms of views, flora, fauna, geography and historical sites.
It’s more than what it might be
Why do I love running, trail running in particular? This is not a question I usually ask myself. If you’re passionate about something you just do it. No need for analysis or explanation. It’s the things you don’t love that are more likely to prompt those why am I doing this moments. Still in the spirit of trying to share the love and to see if it is possible to put it down in words, here are some reflections on the why.
I don’t remember much about my first time running the Broken Axe Pinnacles. It was a bank holiday weekend almost sabotaged by epic nor-westers. I’d abandoned a climbing trip down south because of the forecast. Trail running was my back up plan. I lost a sun hat in high winds on the Tip Track on Saturday. Monday/Labour Day it looked like the wind might finally abate. By the time we arrived at Holdworth Road end conditions were sunny and still thanks to us pausing for a second breakfast in Greytown giving the wind more space. What should have been an exhilarating adventure was overshadowed first by my running buddy Tony getting bad cramp just as we reached the Pinnacles then, when we stopped for coffee on the way back to Wellington, by the terrible news that the two climbers trapped near the summit of Mt Taranaki had died of hypothermia before they could be rescued.
Dawson Falls to Waiaua Gorge Hut
The dark sky is fading to a blue grey twilight as we park at the Dawson Falls Visitor Centre. It’s not quite light enough to forego head torches but we can make out the shapes of other vehicles, information panels, vegetation and crucially, the snow dipped cone of Mt Taranaki looming promisingly in the distance. The air feels like hot chocolate warm, thick, steamy and sweet smelling. Everything is moist, a leftover from the last few days of intermittent rain. Puddles pave our way. Water drips off trees and shrubs. Ascending the Fantham Peak Track initial attempts to keep trainers dry and mud free are soon abandoned in favour of more efficient stair climbing. The stairs appear to have been designed specifically to trap water and mud. It will take more than a bit of mud and moisture to dampen our excitement though. Everyone wears big grins, happy feet and high spirits as we tackle the stair master. Over our shoulders to the east the sky starts to lighten and brighten in earnest illuminating the black and white outlines of Ngaurahoe and Ruapehu. As I watch the chameleon sky switch from grey to candy colours I’m reminded of the story behind Taranaki’s location. Continue reading “Round Taranaki”