This trip started with a somber moment (not that I realised it at the time). On arrival at Lyell I noticed a group of despondent trampers sitting over by themselves looking rather glum. I thought their pick up ride was late in arriving and was probably the reason for looking like they did. As I wanted to get my gear sorted prior to the arrival of our riding colleagues, I left them to it.
The other riders on our trip soon joined us. The plan was about half of us ride from Lyell and the other half ride in from Seddonville. We would all stay overnight at Stern Hut, swap keys and then continue in the direction of travel the next morning. As the guys driving through to Seddonville prepared to depart one of the tramping group approached them about getting a lift to cell phone coverage. It turned out that one of their party had died of a heart attack 200m into the track and they had just carried him back to the start point, but couldn’t call anyone as their was no coverage. I only found this out the next morning, but he was 93 years old and in the hills doing what he loved with his family. As terrifying and traumatic as it was no doubt for his family, I would love to live to that age and still be walking daily and heading into the hills tramping. Far better than lying in a rest home. My thoughts go out to this man’s family.
Anyway back to the adventure, the ride from Lyell up to the Lyell saddle is a relentless climb and I was loaded down with most of our gear. I climbed for the good part of an hour before I needed to take a wee break. Lyell Saddle hut was 18km onto the ride, with Ghost Lake Hut further along at the 30km mark. I was wanting to get there for a late lunch, having started just prior to 10am we were climbing steadily at 6km/hr. It was a long slow climb up to Lyell Saddle but once there there wasn’t too much climbing and a few undulations and downhill prior to Ghost Lake.
The effort required to create this trail, is amazing with it built metre by metre through the hills. A lot of volunteer hours and dollars was invested into creating this track. Due to the natural terrain some parts of the track have guidance and advice to dismount and walk through areas that are narrow and/or dangerous for various reasons. The first major area like this is known as Big Slips and it is the first time that you get any view of the surrounding hills as up until this point has all been in the bush.
We finally got up to Lyell Saddle, left our bikes on the main track and headed up the track to the hut a short distance away. The main huts are all new and were built first and provided accommodation for the track builders. WOW, Lyell Saddle Hut certainly has some amazing views and the ‘sleepouts’ are nice and cozy.
After a banana and some scroggin it was time to hit the road and head further up and along to Ghost Lake Hut. We paused for an Em’s Power Bar on a corner with a nice log seat and bike rack. Not long after this point I had a bad gear change and snapped my chain. I wasn’t happy (as this was a new chain after my issues at Easter: read my report here on our Wakamarina ride). I was hungry and the lunch location was still 7km away. As I quickly set to work fixing my chain, Rachel got the cooker going and boiled some water for our dehydrated meal we had planned for lunch. The chain was repaired quickly and then we ate before we continued riding.
As we climbed, Rachel had been riding away from me as she had a lot less weight to carry up hill (to start with I’m 30kg heavier than her and had a heavier backpack, a heavier bike and also had a rack on the bike with our sleeping bags). She was sick of me being slowed down by my weight so once we had eaten she grabbed my pack and I continued riding with hers. There was no reason I was carrying more than her other than for the simple reason I had a larger backpack and was unintentionally being chivalrous.
We continued riding onwards and upwards out of the bush. Up in the alpine section the views were great and we paused and took some photos but my backpack was frustrating and uncomfortable for Rachel and we swapped back. The section across the tops was a great ride and the descent down into Ghost Lake Hut was a bumpy wee ride, but rolling into the hut was a bit of relief. We topped up with water and enjoyed the view……up until we realised that in the distance we could see the track climbing up and to get to that point it had to descend a long way.
WOW, what a technical descent that required a lot of concentration. Rachel zipped ahead getting ahead by three or four switch backs, as she is a more talented and technical rider than me. We then began the climb up to the Skyline Ridge which was nowhere near as long as the 20km climb up from Lyell and after the gnarly descent from Ghost Lake Hut it was a welcome relief to be pedalling again. The view from the ridge was amazing, especially looking back on Murchison.
What goes up must go down and then it was time to descend. Hitting the Skyline Steps the only option was to get off and walk, but the challenge was how to manage your bike on the step narrow steps. There was no easy way, you just had to keep moving forward and downward.
Once at the bottom, it was a sweet downhill on a nice flowing track pretty much all the way to Stern Valley Hut. Along the way we had a couple of small stream fords (including one that appears to come straight out of a tunnel in the side of the hill) and a couple of bridges.
On arrival at the hut we joined other riders and trampers who had already arrived and coincidentally the riders coming from Seddonville in our party. All of the new huts have a range of Park tools (including chain breakers) set up in a workshop area (see picture). A quick dip in the river to wash the mud off and getting into some warm clothes. As it was nearly dusk, it was time to prepare some dinner. Dehydrated Thai green curry was on the menu with a Nuun electrolyte drink to wash it down with.
As a long day of seven and half hours riding had left us both tired we retired early with no alarm set. We were staying one of the sleepouts and making the most of the double bunks with a mozzie net.
Over the next few weeks I’ll post a series of workouts to assist you to improve your swimming. These sessions are targeted towards beginners who are just getting started with swimming, but can comfortably swim a few lengths without stopping. Continue reading “Getting started with Swimming- Week 7”
To finish off our four days of adventure we made the decision to head up to Lake Rotoiti, although we did consider Lake Chalice over near Mt Fishtail and Wakamarina, but decided against it as it is a longer driving time than our previous trips over to Marlborough already this weekend. The relatively short jaunt of ninety minutes to St. Arnaud was a lot more attractive.
After discussing our desire to see a wild deer during the roar as we climbed Mt Fishtail on Friday, our drive up to the lake gave us the opportunity to do so as we rounded a corner and there is was, nice and majestic on the road in front of us, before it turned and bolted into the forest.
We got to the road end and headed up the aptly named Pinch Gut Track which is just short of 5km up and over to Bushline Hut. As we ascended we got some great views of the lake and the rain that was making it’s way towards us. We’ll have to hurry up if we are to beat it.
Once at the summit it is a short wee hop and skip to Relax Shelter (a bunk-less hut positioned to relax and shelter before descending or heading further into the back country). After a brief pause, we pushed on and broke into a jog as we descended past the privately owned Kea Hut and got to Bushline Hut and the crowds of people there.
The return journey is also just short of 5km of undulations and at times steep descent back to the car park that also gave us great views of the lake. After the weekend of adventure my legs felt like someone had been hitting them with a tenderising hammer, so jogging was minimised to the gentlest of grades. Too steep up or down caused a reasonable level of discomfort if we were to run.
The four and a half hour walk was covered in two and a quarter hours. Jogging when we could helped speed things up.
All up we had a great weekend pushing our body with both running/hiking and mountain biking.
Those people that know me, know that I love to talk. I also love to listen, so when someone has advice for me, I generally listen. I take what is relevant to me on board and disregard the rest. If nothing is relevant I still part take in the conversation, but only at a superficial level. Continue reading “Transforming Tash: This Is MY Journey”
Well it is certainly getting close to my greatest challenge of all, Ultraman Australia, a 3 day event covering 515 kms of swimming, cycling and running in the year that I turn 50. What a way to celebrate and all in the name of charity.
As I glance at my watch I realise I fly out in a month this weekend (10 May 2016) to Noosa, Queensland, Australia for an event that will take place over the period 14-16 May 2016.
My charitable cause is for the ‘Fallen’KIWI = Killed, Injured, Wounded and Ill of the New Zealand Defence Force. My Give-A-Little page is set up https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/help4ultrahumps and 100% of the donations will go to the cause. The primary focus is to raise awareness and support for the ‘Fallen – KIWI’. All donations received as part of this awareness will go to the cause.
Last week I assisted ‘Off-Limits’ at a refuelling point during their Tussock Busters event of motorcross around the Waiouru Army Training Area. I was with Derrick McMillan who is one of my support crew for Ultraman Australia. It was an opportunity to give something back, as ‘Off-Limits’ supports many causes. Coach Ray Boardman from Qwik Kiwi Endurance Sports Consultants has incorporated some of the weekend’s Ultraman Australia training amongst the Relay For Life Charity Event, supporting the Cancer Society. On Saturday after my Ultraman Australia training (long bike and short run), I headed to the charity and completed a 4 hour walk. Sunday morning was a 2 hour run, followed by a 2 hour walk with the other participants (3 legs to clock up the kms).
The Relay for Life was great. The first lap is always a ‘victory’ lap for those that have survived cancer and their supporters, family and close friends. This was amazing to observe, then I jumped out on the track and started my 4 hour walk from about 4:30 to 8:30 pm. After this I wandered and took in the event observing the photos displayed on the large electronic billboard of those that lost their lives to cancer and soaked up the atmosphere.
I had a short sleep then got up at 3 am to start my 2 hour run at 4:15 am. After a half hour break to have a quick breakfast I was back on the track for another 2 hour walk. In total I covered almost 56 kms for the cause.
My amazement was how the schools got involved and how much they took to the charitable cause. People of all shapes and sizes, from pre-school age to youth through to the elderly.
A special thanks to Rob McCullough who realised that after 20 kms I probably needed some nutrition from the supporters tent and shoved a couple of McDonalds burgers in my hand as I went past. Not the ideal food, as no doubt my Coach Ray will roll his eyes back, but it refuelled me until I finished that leg. I’ll be back for Relay for Life next year!
I have realised that I am drawn to charitable events to help those that need a hand. I guess that’s my nature, but I certainly enjoy giving something to charitable causes.
Each Sunday I’ll post my ‘best of’ list in a number of categories from the inter-webs. Other weeks can be found here.
GODZone Adventure Race
The worlds biggest and best adventure race, held right here in Gods Own. Competitors have been going non-stop since midday last Saturday as they make their way around course through the amazing wilderness of the Tasman region.