Late December last year, three girls, two guys and Mandy went for a hike.
They learnt a lot over those 4 days. These are some of those learnings.
Learning: Dad jokes on Day 1 were bad.
Learning: Be careful about how much faith you put in GPS readings. Early on Day 2, having climbed for over two hours through steep but picturesque and cool beech forest, liberally dotted with magnificent rimu, rata and kahikatea, our long-suffering leader reached for his phone and announced we had climbed a whole 200 metres. On that basis we were on track to reach Old Man Hut at about 7pm - on Day 3!
We had about 1,000 metres to climb over about 10km, so the observation was about as demoralising as watching a weka run off with your lunch. We somehow managed to climb another 300 metres in the next hour so all mutinous thoughts were forgotten.
Learning. NSTC Leaders are geniuses. For example, as we tramped away on Day 3 John promised us a break in 15 minutes. Somehow, he knew that we would stop less that 20 metres from the edge of the bush-line, in a clearing simply perfect for a lunch stop and metres from the start of the climb to Little Rintoul.
Learning: Just because you are at the front and manage to walk tall under an overhanging tree, do not forget to call out “HEADS” as loudly as you can. Especially if the guy at the back is 6’10”. Sorry John.
Learning: Basing yourself at a hut for two nights and having a walk with day packs on Day 3 is pure genius. Having woken to a dawn chorus at Old Man Hut that we will reminisce about forever, the trip up Little Rintoul with day packs, in sunshine, with a cooling westerly was a breeze compared to the efforts of the day before.
John had some trouble prising us off the peaks that day as we took in the views across the Wairau Valley to the mighty Kaikoura Range, still white-capped from the snowfall the days before we arrived. It felt like we were on top of the world with the steepness of the ridge around us and being above the clouds blanketing the valleys to the west.
Learning: If you are at the front and come across a tree blocking that path at about waist height don’t forget to yell out “Roz…. HEADS”.
Learning: Do not pose for photographs next to someone 40 years younger than you. Even on Day 4. Sorry John, photoshop just is not that good. And European woman that look under the age of 30 will henceforth be banned from multi-day tramps. Perhaps all tramps? John should decide.
Learning: If you arrive at Old Man campsite and see someone that looks remarkably like Chris, standing next to someone that looks remarkably like Linda, then it probably is the Chris and Linda along with the rest of the Long Party (there must be an oxymoron in that label). Was great to see you guys. Inspiring.
Learning: By day 4 no one cares where they are or who is watching when getting changed. No more need be said about that.
Learning: John, please do not stand up and tuck in your shirt at the dinner table if you:
- a) Have not done up your fly, and
- b) Your trousers are done up with a press stud instead of a button, which pops as you stand there revealing all, and
- c) To save on washing you have gone commando.***Footnote
There was shrieking and crying from the 4 vestal virgins on the other side of the table at the time.
Learning: Old Man Hut is sexist. I saw old woman there. Perhaps “Fit Old People Hut” is more PC. John and I posed for photos in front of the sign anyway.
Learning: The dad jokes on day 4 are bad. For example. What do you call a deer with no eyes standing still? Unfortunately, if you want the punch line you will just have to join us the next multi-day tramp or by this time next year you will still have no idea (sic).
The final day promised to be relatively easy. Morning mist and cloud cleared away slowly, keeping temperatures ideal for hiking. However, we were to be treated to enough river crossings to lose count. The upside was the water had warmed considerably as it was now several days since the snowfall.
The Richmond Range was a great choice for a multi-day tramp. It offers jaw-dropping panoramas, plenty of birdlife including the inimitable one-bird orchestra that is the bellbird, beautiful beech forests and enough challenging climbs to make that evening meal and coffee the tastiest, most satisfying you have enjoyed in a long time. A great setting for some shared challenges and an opportunity to make new friends.
We all know shared challenges make close friendships even closer, strangers become mates. Multi-day hiking is one sure way of setting yourself to encounter a few unnerving moments, and of course, make a few new friends.
Final Learning: More of a question really. Does anyone know who or what “Mandy” is?
***Footnote: OK. It wasn’t John. It was me – power of the pen and all that. And there were no vestal virgins. I could tell because the 4 females on the other side of the table fell about laughing until they cried. Literally. Point “c” was not true either. Just added for effect – power of the pen again. And I know no-one reads footnotes, so we are all safe. Except John. Ha!