Track Talk – Sept 2011

Wellington’s recent snow visited alpine conditions on our suburbs. But even before that dump, there were surprising amounts of snow in the Ruahines and Tararuas. On the weekend before the snow came in, Steve, Richard and I were slightly bemused to find a good half metre on parts of the Southern Crossing, though perhaps less surprised than the extremely cold, younger guys we found in Alpha hut. I won’t bore you with another cautionary warning about gear! But I found it interesting when back at work that people were asking me about heating in huts and looked shocked when I said it’s pretty absent on the tops. The two guys we found in Alpha seemed almost to have counted on there being a fire. While there is a good stove at Alpha, there’s virtually never any dry wood stored or easily found in the vicinity. Even when people to take the trouble to find and stash wood, the next group rarely replaces it. We were expecting and prepared for the cold, but our hut companions weren’t and it added a layer of misery to their trip.


Enclosed with this newsletter is the Spring trip schedule, which as I write is yet to be completed but will (hopefully!) be an action-packed array of inspiring trips. We haven’t put any Christmas trips on the schedule as they tend to be more loosely organised – if you are keen to lead or go on a Christmas trip, talk to me and/or consider putting a notice on the website forum. Now is the time to start thinking about it!


It can be quite hard to find leaders for trips. This time round we produced a really good mix of potential trips for the draft schedule – that part of the process is mostly painless thanks to enthusiastic participation from club members. But actually looking for leaders can be a bit soul destroying, as you nag on and then feel guilty that the same old people are shouldering most of the load. As a general principle, if you want to go on more than one trip a schedule, you should think about leading a trip, otherwise the system starts to fall down. If you absolutely don’t think leading is your thing, that is fine and there are (many!) other ways that you can help out. But if all that’s holding you back is never having done it before, then sign up for the leadership course in October. If we are slipping into providing a “service” to people who go on trips but don’t contribute to the club’s functioning, then we need to consider how our model should adapt, rather than burning out the core group of people doing all the work. Your feedback is very welcome – email .


I’ve just read the latest edition of the FMC journal. An excellent read as always, but perhaps I’m not alone in finding this issue deeply depressing. It seems recreational users of the wilderness will need to fight a rearguard action just to maintain the wilderness areas, back country huts and tracks that we already have. This is without giving any consideration to greater investment in desperately needed pest control or new protected areas. During Richard Davis’ slideshow last week showcasing the efforts of the FMC and its current concerns, I had grim visions of lying in front of a bulldozer come to dam(n) the Tauherenikau (perhaps the most beautiful valley in the Tararuas). But the best way for us to save our hills is to get others into them. The outcry against mining in national parks showed that the weight of voter opinion makes a difference. If we can get more people passionate about tramping and our wild places, we take concrete steps towards saving them. Perhaps that’s a much better argument for leading trips than my moan above. When you look back in 20 years time, what will you say you did for the places you love?

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