March 2015 Bushcraft

bush1The Bushcraft course was a great opportunity to gain or refresh tramping skills and find out about how the club trips operate. The group was a mixture of people wanting to get into tramping for the first time, others wanting to get back into it after time away, and some who have tramping experience – just not in NZ.

Prior to heading into the Orongorongos, there was a session a couple of Wednesdays earlier at the club rooms to go over clothing and equipment basics, and get an introduction to navigation skills.

We set off from the railway station on Saturday morning for a quick drive around the harbour to the Catchpool carpark. On arrival, Kevin had a session on navigation, and Pete discussed the importance of considering the weather when you are planning a trip or out on a trip – which was appropriate given the impending cyclone.

bush2We then split up into three groups led by Kevin, Richard and Pete and set off for Paua Hut via the Orongorongo track, with stops to practice our newly learnt navigation skills along the way.

After a quick stop for a cup of tea and coffee when we got to the hut, there was session on what to do and what not to do when putting up a fly, and then some practice of proper river crossing techniques, although the ankle deep Orongorongo river was probably not the toughest test of these techniques.

After heading back to the hut to dry our feet off, there was some more discussion about shelters, emergency equipment and food.

bush3The preparation of dinner (vegetarian shepherd’s pie) provided the only minor mishap of the trip, resulting from a stray knife when cutting up carrots.

While Kevin, Richard and Pete opted to sleep outside that night, for everyone the mattresses in the hut was the preferred option.

On Sunday morning we awoke to a beautiful fine, still morning – a contrast to the previous day’s weather.

bush4The walk back to Catchpool provided a little bit more of a challenge than the walk in, mainly due to the short steep climb up Browns Track to Cattle Ridge Track. From there it was a fairly easy walk along Cattle Ridge Track and down Butcher Track back to car pack, with of course, more stops for navigation practice along the way.

On arrival back at the car park, there was a final de-brief where we discussed what we did and didn’t like about the gear we took with us for the weekend. For me, a decent pair of boots was definitely on the must-get list, for others it was a new pack.

The course was a great introduction/re-introduction to tramping, and thanks to Kevin, Pete, and Richard for sharing their knowledge with us throughout the weekend. The success of the course was demonstrated by the fact that many of us signed up for trips on the next club night.

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