05 February 2006

This weekend Brian and I went tramping on the Cass-Lagoon Saddles track. The trailhead is about 2 hours from our flat, and we got to drive 100 to get there!!

Ok well, it was 100km/hr. But it still felt fast, even if it was only 60mph. Anyway, soon enough we got started on our tramp. According to the book, the track is 30km long and is of moderate difficulty. It started out pretty innocently, with a flat track along some farmland and down in an old riverbed. There were pretty views to all sides, but it was out in the sun and very rocky.

Then we went up into the woods and it started to get really pretty. Here is a view as we walked along.

After hours and hours of hiking uphill, we made it to the Cass Saddle. A saddle is the connection between two mountains. Think of a horse, if the head is one mountain and the rump is another, we were walking over the saddle (well, that’s how Brian explained it to me anyways). There were some amazing views from up there, and we were happy to have made it that far!

After crossing the saddle (elevation 1326m) we went down down down hill to get to Hamilton hut where we were staying for the night. We took breaks for Brian to take pictures.

I saw a rock that looked like bunny.

After what felt like 100 more miles we finally walked into another riverbed and saw the cabin way in the distance.

You can see it if you look for a very small building with a green roof just to the right of the top of my pack. (You can click on the pictures to make them bigger.)

Unfortunately we didn’t take any pictures of the hut, but it was actually really nice inside. It had 20 bunks with surprisingly clean and comfy mattresses. My only problem with getting sleep was the woman snoring so loudly she was rattling the beds. She woke me and several others up multiple times throughout the night. I think eventually someone shook her pillow so she would wake up and roll over. I’ve never heard a woman snore like that before!! (Brian- Suckers can’t sleep through snoring! I slept on the bunk above her and didn’t wake up through the night)

Anyway, we met lots of neat people in the hut. There was a threesome of Kiwis that were in medicine(two PTs and a med student). The medical school system is different here than it is in the US. People can go into medical school straight out of high school. That lasts for 6 years, and then they do residency to be general practioners. I think that program last 3 years. After that they can choose to specialize if they want to. Then they do an additional residency in their chosen specialty. They were pretty hardcore trampers. After they got to the hut the guy went for a 20 minute run through the mountains. After hiking for 16km!

We also met an American that has been living in NZ for around 3 years, Dave, and his girlfriend T. The third member of their party was named Richard, he was from Texas and had just arrived in NZ the previous week. We all sat around and played cards and talked. The huts are very social places!

The next morning we set off to finish the last 14km of the track. We started out crossing a swing bridge. Here’s a picture of me bravely crossing first:

And here is a picture of Brian looking across at me after I safely made it:

And here is Brian looking down. Don’t they always say “don’t look down?”

So we made it across the obstacles and here on our way. It was pretty rainy the second day, and we were getting quite discouraged with the wet and the cold until we ran in to some of our hut friends from the night before at lunchtime. We hiked with them off and on for the rest of the day. There were some pretty neat views from Lagoon saddle in the afternoon.

There’s Brian hiking ahead (see the orange on the right side?)

Then I saw some lichens growing on a rock that looked like a bunny.

(I just had to throw that in.)

The good views continued:

and I was glad there were no more uphills!

All in all, we hiked from 11am to 6pm the first day and 845am to 530pm the second day. We were tired and sore but proud of our first New Zealand tramp! If you want to leave the day on a good note, stop here. If you want to hear about the bad part of our day, keep reading.

Title: “They even took the gas cap.”

When we finished hiking, one of the guys ran back to the car park at the other end of the trail to get his car. That’s 12km from where we were. Seriously, this guy hiked 22km in two days with a pack on his back, then ran 12km to pick up his car. These people are crazy! Anyway, after he had his car, he came back and picked up his hiking friends and also took Brian and Dave to get their cars. About 20 minutes later, Dave came back to get the rest of his group and told me I had to go with them because he was going to give me a ride to our car. Apparently Heath (the runner) had dropped them both off at our car and Brian went to give Dave a ride down the street to where his car was parked. When Brian started the car, it was slow to start and turned out it was low on gas. Anyone who knows Brian knows this is not an unlikely possibility. So this is the story I was told, and I hopped in the car with Dave, T, and Richard, ragging on Brian (nicely) the whole time. (Brian- Ok let’s get this straight people [Kate], I run low on gas when I am near my house in my own car. I.e. I know how many miles I have left before I really need to get gas rather than relying on the odometer and the gas light to tell me when to fill up. And, I haven’t ever run out of gas. I just prefer to go to the gas station as few a times as possible in my life. That being said I would not take our new old car much below a quarter of a tank in the middle of the mountains in NZ.) When we get to our car I found out the real issue is that the car is low on gas, AND it was robbed while we were tramping. Our quick inventory revealed that my purse and wallet (which were shut in the glovebox) were missing. Also missing, our spare tire, ½ qt of old motor oil and a small bottle of power steering fluid. Not missing, the radio and the jack. Strange. So Dave and friends insisted on following us to the nearest gas station 60km away. The whole time we were driving (with the gas light on) I kept saying, I know we had more gas than this. I bet they stole our gas too!! We eventually coasted into the gas station on fumes, and low and behold, not only had the stolen our gas, they stole our gas CAP!!! I mean seriously! Anyway, Brian filled the car up and I went in to talk to the attendant about a petrol cap. She didn’t have any for sale, but she did have a bucket full of ones that had been left behind. She brought them out, and lo and behold, we found one that fit! Thank you nice gas station lady for the gas cap! Then Dave and friends took us across the street to dinner and treated us to a beer (Brian) and a hard cider (me). Thank you new friends for taking care of us when we having a rough time of it! The good news is when we got back to the apartment I was able to call and cancel my credit card and nothing had been spent on it. There was no cash in my wallet and nothing else of monetary value in my bag. And now I’ve learned my lesson (a lesson I really already knew, I was just stupid). But we’re still safe and sound in New Zealand and no worse for the wear.


Blogger Erin said...

First, your 'tramp' looked absolutely delightful... that is until I saw the bridge. Nuh uh. No way. I would have had to have turned around!

Now, as far as those bunnies go... hmmm, that's got to mean something!!

Finally, I am so sorry about your car. That is just terrible. I am glad that they did not have an opportunity to use your credit card, but still, that is just awful!

I certainly hope that is the only hardship you encounter while there!

Love you both!

05 February, 2006 19:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

greetings from the north!
i am so sorry to hear about your car, but i'm glad that no real damage was done. daniel and i did the abel tasman coastal tramp this weekend. beautiful beaches. the ferry ride was beautiful, but i got a wicked sunburn - i have blisters on my ears!
hopefully we'll see each other soon.

06 February, 2006 01:01  
Anonymous Padre said...

If there's a silver lining, it's that you knew nothing about the theft until the end of your adventure. Incredible views-thanks for sharing those with all of us.

As to Brian's keeping his gas tank as "light" as possible, the fuel warning on the Passat showed a negative number when I picked up it up just before you left Columbus. Brian told me that the fill up was nowhere near the record, but pushing the Passat up the last hill to the gas station was not my idea of fun. We'll talk later, Brian.

Continue to have a great time down there.
Love and blessings,

06 February, 2006 07:20  
Blogger Beth said...

Again let me just say wow. Tom spent some time in Austrailia and while I know they are not the same, after hearing him talk and seeing your gorgeous pictures I want to go there! You crack me up with the bunnies and stuff.

I am sorry wbout your car, mine was broken into and I felt so violated! but to steal gas? that is just absured.

But hopefully in your mind the good out-weighed the bad and you made some new friends!

06 February, 2006 08:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yowsa....maybe the bunnies did it??? Hmmm, you have to wonder.

-Brad Runkle

06 February, 2006 10:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the bunnies, Maybe Tito and Diesal need a house bunny.
Officer Beverly said way to go on the purse and gas. Guess you can't trust anyone.

06 February, 2006 15:17  
Anonymous Scott said...

Kind of reminds me of Hawaii and not leaving anything in your car because the kids will break into the tourist cars and take everthing. I would go crazy not able to drive around.
although walking around the city is always interesting and you might find some neat and different shops and diners.

07 February, 2006 17:51  

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