Christchurch has been super wet this winter, and I’m not complaining too much since I pretty much missed the beginning while being in China and then the tail end being in the US. But again the rain seemed to put a bit of a damper on things, mostly the motivation. To keep up the motivation, I’ve come to the conclusion that you need to keep things adventurous and make the adventures happen were and when you can!
Finding adventure in your backyard is one way to do it, so the day of the final Night Nav at Bottle Lake I turned it into a bit of mission for myself. I took my Mountain Bike to work, then complete with a map made my way out to the start after work, kitted up for the race and then raced around in the Night Nav, the plan was to bike home afterwards to complete the mission but it was pretty had to resist the offer of a ride in the cold. Little adventures however big or small like this seem to just make everything a little bit more novel and fun!
A few weeks ago now it was my turn to be on the other-side of the Adventure racing world, support crew for the Sneaky Weasel Gals at spring challenge in Geraldine. I can’t say that I had too much FOMO getting up at 4:30am seeing the girls in their wetsuits eating breakfast with the rain pouring down outside! The weather cleared gradually during the day and it was awesome to first of all help out the Weasels as well as see them first fight for the top three placings and then finish strongly in third place behind two very strong fast finishing teams. Given Georgia had recently returned from Latvia as a new World Rogaining Champ, Isla arrived back from the States the week beforehand after World Adventure racing champs and Anna earlier in the week from India where she was racing at Expedition India, they did a pretty outstanding job!
Then last Sunday there was Orienteering training in Castle Hill, and since I’m going to Nationals at labour weekend I thought it would be a good idea to get some training in. The initial plan was an Avalanche Peak traverse, to the Crow hut, then run out in time for the training the next day. The weather forecast was not ideal, a massive storm set to hit the main divide on Saturday afternoon/evening. So as often happens, plan b was required. Since we could stay up at Castle Hill, we devised a plan to get there on foot… not all the way from Christchurch, just far enough to make it a challenge, via the Gap in the Castle Peak range. Nick and I set out at the roadmans hut just the east side of Porters Pass up the Kowai River.
The rain had not stopped, but the enthusiasm was just high enough to keep the excitement level above the “this is wet and it sucks” barrier. The initial part of the route was pretty straight forward, up the river bed pretty much following a track to the huts. From the Hut, things got a bot more challenging and much more exciting. There was a bit of scrambling, then we made our way up a bit of a gorge. We climbed up and through the little gorge and into a small basin with super steep sides. Up was the only way out, and then we hit the snow. It was a bit slushy, not too bad for good travel, visibility was slowly reducing and as the snow leveled out it dropped to 10-20m. We made our way to a the top of a spur and with not much more to go on we made our way up the snow slope.
We got small glimpses of rocks every now and then but the further we climbed the less we could see. Almost at the top of the gully we were in, the cloud lifted just long enough for us to see the gap down below us. As we had suspected we had gone too far to the left of the Gap and in hind sight this probably worked out for the best as we were now on the ridge. A little bit sad that we had actually missed the gap we made quick work of moving quickly along the ridge in a full on blizzard. It was relatively tricky going in the cold snowy patches intermixed with loose scree, but we made it to the top in what seemed like no time at all.
At the top of the ridge we could make out the faint outline of the ridge we were after and headed down as quickly as we could. It was super cold up there and thoughts of a story on the TV show “I shouldn’t be alive” popped into my head! When we eventually got out of the snow, it felt like we could get some warmth back into our bodies as we were now out of the wind as well as the clouds and we could see that we were on the right spur. Now we faced another challenge, the light was fading.
It was just after 7pm when I looked at my watch and there was only about 30mins of daylight left… we had to modify our route slightly as neither of us really wanted to be out too much after dark in the wet and cold. There was a full moon in the forecast, not much use when there’s full cloud cover and you only have one headlamp between the two of us though. We hit the road, and jogged the last 20mins into Castle Hill arriving just as it got fully dark, just in time for dinner by a hot fire!
This trip had it all, an awesome way to get a good adventure in on new terrain, on a crappy day and with a purpose. The best kind of adventure and a great way to keep the motivation going strong! It was fair to say I was struggling a bit the next day running around the rocks on the Castle Hill map for the Orienteering training.
Now the sun is out on a Sunday afternoon, the motivation to get outside isn’t all that bad all of a sudden, but the body is in recovery mode after a long run around Mt Somers in preparation for the Mission Mt Somers race in a couple of weeks time. Saturday was a good day for running around, not to hot, not too cold and the track is drying out a bit. Who knows what the weather will bring this year though! This time last year we had a recky trip with similar conditions and by race day it was knee deep snow!
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