Saturday, October 27, 2007

Heaven and Hell in Hanmer ...

When Mel suggested we try some tramping I was simply elated.

Not only did the thought of sitting on a park bench shouting abuse at random strangers sound really exciting, but cheap sherry is one of my favourite drinks of all time.

It seems that I was getting confused. In New Zealand tramping is what most other people refer to as hiking, walking or trekking. Call it what you will, now the painful memories of Mt. Fuji are behind us, we picked the 1324m Mt. Isobel for our first mission in the Southern Hemisphere.

It was also our first chance to test out Super-Casual in both a driving and a sleeping capacity. Aside from a general slowing down whenever a slight gradient is encountered in 5th gear, I think the little van will get us around quite nicely. As for the sleeping, the night before our trek it belted it down with rain and we nearly froze to death, by 3am we were both wearing woolly hats.

As we reached the trailhead we could see that during the previous night the weather had added little white hats to the mountain range - we hoped it wouldn't be another of those days. The GPS cheerfully informed me our elevation was 532m, and a quick spot of maths revealed we'd be climbing 800m up and then down again over the next 5 hours. I'm so glad we didn't pick a difficult trek.

The uphill was relentless and I abandoned a very tired Melanie just below 1000m for a solo attempt on the summit. The two hikers we met coming down earlier had warned us it was a but windy up on the ridge - as understatements go, this was like saying Robert Mugabe is a bit bonkers. The windspeed was well in excess of 60mph and increasing as I approached the summit, but at least I'd made it this time.

Thankfully after enduring hell, there was time for a little bit of heaven. Hanmer is famous for it's hot thermal springs and we took full advantage, soaking our aching limbs as we gazed up at the snow-capped mountains.

It just remained for us to remember to fill our new hot water bottle before we left for another night in the van ...

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