2011-2012 has been an emotional 12 months for us

We became kiwi citizens. Our kids, Ben and Beth survived the Christchurch earthquakes. I lost my mum and brother, Brian, to cancer in the same week. We sold our outdoor activity business in Hanmer Springs that we had run for ten years. We ran the Forest Camp as managers and we will celebrate 30 years of marriage.

It has been a time of intense emotions and hard work but a great network of friends and family has supported us.

Losing Brian at the age of 60 has convinced me that we have to “live life for today”. With that in mind Steve and I have decided that the best way to celebrate surviving, being kiwis and the “life of Brian” is to walk the length of New Zealand. Now here is the irony, Brian would be convinced that we are finally, totally and unreservedly barking mad!

Thanks to Ben and Beth for their support to let us go, to Sharon and Serge our Hanmer backstops and to Shalane for inspiration.

Follow us on our journey – meet us on the way with tea and scones, walk a section with us, join us for a beer or just support our cause and donate to Cancer research!

Feel free to add comments to our blog below, just click on "comments" below the blog entry and write in the box then add your name or be anonymous!!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

The Alpine Crossing of the Richmond Ranges


The easy track of the Queen Charlotte was well behind us and the next stage of our journey took us through the Richmond Ranges and we had it all !! - a heatwave, torrential rain, snow, scree slopes, gorges, boulder fields, gullies, tussocks, mountains, awesome huts, great company and amazing views.
Snow on the tops!!!

We girded our loins and set off at the crack of dawn, with the  daunting thought of 10 days in the hills and heavy packs, up the Pelorous River, past the very inviting Emerald Pool to the Captains Creek Hut, having two wonderful swims on the way. Even with our heavy packs we were doing DOC time so that was encouraging - little did we know what lay in store!! The weather heated up and we got up earlier to walk in the cool of the day but the heat  could not be avoided so lots more swims were called for. The tracks were challenging sidling over tree roots and rocks and we felt as if we had really slowed down.
The next section was awesome, we broke out of the bush and were walking on ridges and the tops, up to Mt Starveall and on to Slaty Hut - a 10 hour day. From here we had a great walk over the Old Man (appropriately named), and down to the Old Man Hut. 

Old Man Hut !!!
Then the weather broke and we had 24hrs of heavy rain , we sat tight in the hut and were joined by John again and Melanie from France. A day in the hut to talk of all our experiences along the way and eat as little as possible as we were taking an extra day for the crossing. 
When the cloud cleared the next day the mountains were sprinkled with snow!!! But as soon as the sun came out it started to melt and we were off up Mt Rintoul the crux of the crossing. We had a challenging day crossing the scree slopes and descending the gullies and climbing to 1760metres.The views were breathtaking all the way to the Abel Tasman and Nelson Bay.

Scrambling down off Mt Rintoul.
 The route then crosses over Purple Top and down to the valley of the Wairoa river. A challenging route up the gorge kept us on our toes and we also had to deal with lots of wasps, which liked me but not Steve!!.Then over the tops past Mt Ellis and down to the valley again. A 12 hour day and a great sleep.

The Red Hills were the next challenge and we weaved our way up and down the boulder field and valleys dissecting the mountains. It was almost like a lunar landscape in places.

The final two days were a wonderful end to the challenge, staying at Hunters and Porters Huts ( a restored Forestry Service hut) and "undulating" tracks led through the hills with great sidling tracks ending at the Red Hills hut before plunging down to the valley and a 10 mile road walk to St Arnaud.

A restored Forestry Service hut at Porters Creek.

So we have completed 1930 Kms over 96 days of walking and raised $4,600.
Looking forward to the Nelson Lakes next and ending up in Hanmer for a couple of days 17th - 20th Feb and taking Beth to Dunedin for the start of her term at Otago.

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