Rach had told me that she wanted to get some time on her feet before we headed off for the http://www.keenadventurerace.com/, so we decided to head out into the Tararuas when she got back from the states.
I was good and let her get a night's sleep at home on Saturday - we only went for about 4 hours paddling and MTBing between her arriving at 08:00 Saturday morning after 20hrs of travelling and bedtime!
Got up Sunday morning and headed up to Otaki, with plans to do Penn Creek track, up and through Chain Ladder, stay maybe at Maungahuka Hut, Aokaparangi Bivi or Anderson Memorial depending on how we went, then up through Junction Knob and out on Monday.
Things didn't look good when we arrived at Otaki to discover I had forgotten to grab my AyUp head unit - had batteries, but no LEDs, Doh! Oh well, had an L1 and a couple of e-lites, so should be fine, we're starting at midday and it's only 8K of dodgy track.
There were steep bits
First stream crossing and it's reasonably obvious why the track's been closed, as there is a huge slip, that takes about 20 minutes to cross and another 10 to find the ( high ) track out. Thankfully a few hunters are still using the area and have been putting plastic bag/ ripped up foil blanket markers up. Next stream and this time the slip/ track issue takes a little longer ( low this time ). I think the first river that hadn't been washed out was the 5th one that we crossed. By now we'd been going 3 hours and 2Km, so I gave Rach the option to return to Otaki, which apparently we weren't going to do ;-)
There were animals
Getting into the old slips that are actually shown on the map, generally the track was still good to about half way across, where the scree was very unstable and very mobile! Thankfully the map was very accurate, giving us good hints as to whether we should be looking high or low for the exit tracks, and most were vaguely marked, I only totally screwed up on one, where partially to make sure that we weren't in the stream bed ( the sound and sight of loose scree rolling down the slope opposite put me off that idea ) and partially through lack of attention we climbed for an hour up and around to come back down on the track.
The last 2 or 3K still had DOC markers most of the way, and less slips, but walking on an e-lite and an L1 running old batteries ( swapping from the DSE batteries to the Duracells the light wouldn't switch back on, anyone else had this problem? ) along a pretty overgrown track was still slow going, so getting to Penn Creek hut at 10:30 was a very, VERY welcome relief, and we decided not to carry on to Chain Ladder in the dark!
There was relief!
Luckily Sunday was gorgeous, so we didn't get cold while hunting around, and didn't even need to light the fire in the hut.
Monday morning dawned colder and overcast, but we decided to take the long way out, which was fine up Pakihore Ridge, but once out on the tops at McIntosh, and exposed to the howling Westerly, it didn't seem so much fun!
A good couple of hours up to Bridge Peak and we got battered for all of it, blown off the track a couple of times, and Rach was unable to move forward into the wind at least once. A little snow right up on the top, and then only another hour or so exposed on Field Ridge before we hit the bushline.
Saw 2 groups heading up to Kime which seemed a bit silly until we got down into the bush, where there was no sign of wind or clouds or general nastiness.
It was a really pleasant walk out from there ;-)
So 25Km in about 19 hours, I think our competition will be feeling pretty confident about beating us on the trekking sections at Keen!