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.
Tramping is nowhere near as addictive as smoking, drinking or pizza. It would be easy to give up. It’s time consuming, hard work, uncomfortable and lacks glamour. There is no instant gratification and no showers. You have to invest in specialist gear which you’ll only use if something bad happens. You have to put up with crap weather, other people’s idiosyncrasies and, even worse, your own. The food is pretty average. I go tramping when I have failed to make other plans. Continue reading “Gem Tour”→
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.
Driving up to the Stratford Plateau car park at 5.45am on Saturday morning I’m hoping someone has spread lots of grit on the road so there is no ice to cope with. It’s a mild morning and the damp road has not frozen overnight. Relieved I park and we clamber out and assemble our gear before heading up the four-wheel drive track over snow patches towards the Manganui ski field.
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.
Of all our national parks Mt Cook National Park is the least accessible. Even Fiordland National Park for all its remoteness and challenging weather is home to several Great Walks and plenty of shorter excursions that can be completed relatively easily from a car park. Mt Cook National Park is not like that. The main access point is the road to Mt Cook Village, so far so good but the road comes to an abrupt halt just beyond the village. There is scarcely any transition from tame to feral. One moment you are amongst crowds of camera touting visitors enjoying the gentle manicured paths, board walks and bridges coupled with plentiful signage and carefully labelled viewing platforms that mark the lower reaches of the Mueller and Hooker valleys. The next you’re sharing ground trails with goats though these trails quickly surrender to do it yourself route finding through scree, rubble, bluffs, unstable rock piles, thin shreds of alpine vegetation and scrawny tussocks. The Spaniards are typically robust but the associated puncture wounds and blood stained clothes render them a last resort. The flimsy stems of the beautiful Mt Cook lily are everywhere but afford little by way of physical support. Should you survive trial by vegetation you have the typical moraine, glaciers, crevasses and the steep snow slopes that go hand in hand with big mountains to look forward to.
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.