Track Talk – Aug 2011

We’re in the throes of Spring schedule planning. If you’re reading this online, it’s not too late to come along to the planning night, this Wednesday 3rd August, from 5.30pm onwards at the clubrooms. Bring maps and ideas, and get some free pizza in return. Thanks heaps to everyone who’s sent in their ideas for road ends so that we can have a skeleton schedule ready for Wednesday. Once we’ve got the schedule sorted, it’s time to start hounding you to lead trips…

If you’d like to lead a trip but would appreciate a confidence boost or basic skills brush-up, we’re running a leadership course on the weekend of October 29-31 (that’s the weekend after Labour weekend – and the Rugby World Cup will also be out of the way!). On the same weekend, in the same location, we’ll also be running an outdoor first aid course. Sign up sheets for both these courses will be on the board in early August or you can email to register.

When I wrote my last column, I wasn’t sure whether a long-planned tramping holiday to the Australian outback would get off the ground. Qantas’ approach to ash saw us stuck in Wellington for three long, uncertain days, wondering if we would ever make it to Alice Springs and our 10-day Larapinta appointment. Kate has promised to do a slideshow very soon, so I won’t relate any more of what became an epic story. But it was another lesson that the things you worry most about in advance don’t end up the real problems…

Lately we’ve had a few cases of punters not bringing ground sheets because they assumed they would get a hut bed. Even if you make it to your intended destination, there’s no guarantee the hut won’t be full. But the main reason we bleat on about groundsheets is that carrying them plus flies equals shelter and relative comfort if something unforeseen occurs. Shelter is not an optional extra on club overnight tramps, no matter what your intended destination. Anyone who’s been caught out will be a staunch advocate for this policy – and the experience isn’t as rare as you might think.

I remember a club trip in 2006 where we spent hours bashing down a leatherwood-infested ridge. As darkness fell, trying to follow a compass bearing down a steep slope became obviously stupid, so after finding a stream we set up a precarious camp. While our fly pitching wasn’t worthy of awards, it meant none of us felt particularly worried by our situation. Light dawned and we made our way out, on time and pretty happy. In contrast, last week I happened to catch a radio interview with an “experienced” tramper who endured several unexpected days in snow-bound country near Arthurs Pass. Not carrying any shelter meant this couple kept pushing on towards a hut in difficult conditions, but still ended up spending a night out crammed into a single packliner. While you might say that the lack of shelter wasn’t as significant as their inability to read snow conditions, it might have prevented the interviewee losing part of a toe to frostbite.

Groundsheets, gaiters and packliners are all occasionally seen as optional extras by new trampers. It’s worth verbally checking with each new person before the trip that they have these items – doubly so in winter. The last thing you want is a minor problem becoming a survival situation.

Sometimes people don’t have groundsheets because they don’t know what they are or where to get them from. Asking the tramping shops around town can apparently draw a blank. The Warehouse has blue tarpaulins in their “car” section of varying sizes that can be cut up nicely to meet your groundsheet needs. Or Bunnings/Mitre10 Mega type places have rolls of polythene (often in the gardening section). Polythene is slightly lighter than the woven blue plastic tarpaulins but not as durable. Both seem relatively waterproof and cost only a few dollars per groundsheet. Cutting the ground sheet so it’s long enough to fit your pack as well as your sleeping mat can be beneficial when camping on mud/wet grass.

Hopefully we’ll soon be heading into warmer weather. But in the meantime, here’s a selection of upcoming trips:


19-21 Aug Ruahine FP and Inland Kaikouras

Tramp  E         Daywalks from Kawhatau Base                Helen Law

Tramp  M         Pourangaki hut                                Jo Boyle

Tramp  MF       Wakelings hut                                  Kate Cushing

Alp1     MF       Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku (3 day)           Steve Austin

Alp2     F          Alarm or Mitre (3 day)                      Mike Phethean

It’s not too late to go on these tramping trips to the Eastern Ruahines – with Kawhatau base hut at the road end already booked for Friday night, and for Saturday night for the Easy group. The chances of encountering snow will be good! You need to sign up soon though. Alternatively, head down to the Kaikouras for some mountaineering adventures with Steve or Mike.

26-28 Aug Ruapehu – Ohakune Mountain Rd

Tramp  E         Blyth hut                                          Clinton Hunter

Tramp  EM      Mangaehuehu Hut                           Pete Gent

Alp1     MF       Tahurangi                                        Sharron Came

Family All        Ruahines – Sunrise hut overnight    Mike Pratt

Day     E         Atiwhakatu                                       Barbara Keenan

Head to Ruapehu with Clinton or Pete for easy tramping around the mountain, or tackle the climb to Tahurangi with Sharron. Mike takes all-comers into the Eastern Ruahines’ Sunrise hut, a short, very graded walk to a hut with an awesome view over the Hawkes Bay area. Or visit the new Atiwhakatu hut in the Tararuas with Barbara (and marvel at the extent of the boardwalk).

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