Last weekend I could have either gone to a Rogaine down in Arrowtown or could have gone up to the orienteering in the Hawkes Bay… but I couldn’t decide what I really wanted to do three or four weeks out so I ended up procrastinating and not booking anything in. So consolation prize this weekend was a running return to the Cass-Lagoon Saddle track.
The forecast was not looking great for a weekend in the Mountains, but an early morning phone call from Tim assured me there was going to be a rain shadow right about where we wanted to go. After picking up Romans along the way the closer we got to the start of the track the more concerned we became of Tim’s weather forecasting skills and the less concerned we were of putting on sunscreen.
It was pretty tricky getting ready in the car while it was pouring with rain outside, but within 5 minutes of starting out we were already stopping to take jackets off. And from that point on that’s where the jackets stayed. Maybe Tim’s forecasting skills were not that bad after all! The track started out with a climb and Romans and myself got talking all about Running and orienteering while Tim paced himself a bit up to the Saddle. Once there we were fairly well matched for speed and cruised along at a good pace.
We were making pretty good time until we somehow lost the trail markers, about the same place as we lost the track last time I was there! Tim lead us on some bush bashing in an attempt to find the track again but we aborted that eventually and found ourselves back in the riverbed. Luckily the water level was low and we were able to make our way down the gorge. Not the recommended route for fairly obvious reasons but since the weather was good and in our favour it worked out to be a pleasant side trip…and meant that we were able to avoid an extra climb!
Back on track, we continued at a good pace, just enough to enjoy running in the mountains for what it is and in the sunshine. So much is said about the “spiritual” journey that supposedly is running, but for me its just fun, being out there running along.
Around about the saddle we had spotted some bike tracks, so it was no surprise when we stumbled across the mountain biker just before reaching Hamilton hut. Romans and Tim seemed to be in a hurry and I had to pretend to get some food out of my pack to allow myself a little rest at this fine hut! Still one of the most appealing huts around I reckon. Sadly though those too were in a hurry and I don’t like losing so we were quickly back to running.
The big hill brought out the competitiveness in us all, Tim once again lagged behind until it got so steep that we had to walk. Here he came into his own and made me work for my porridge. Finally we reached the next saddle and were treated to good views across to Cass and across the valley. I started to suffer a bit here, we hit the four hour mark and my “well used” shoes were not doing my feet any favours! Only a few river crossings and a bonus hill Tim threw in and we were back at the car park and in the daylight this time, still with 5 hours until darkness, a contrast to last time. Another contrast was the lack of bike waiting for me to shuttle back to the car, a little bit disappointing really as it took us around an hour to get a hitch back to the car….
A fairly quick trip around the loop really, we were all done in about 4.5hours, approximately 35kms and around 2200m of climb so no wonder I was feeling a bit tired and sore the next day.