Now that I’ve had my first legitimate Wilderness Experience, I’m a bit more hooked. Here’s a rundown of my first “tramp”:
We had about a two hour drive from Christchurch to get to our carpark in the alps, with lots of LIL BABY SHEEPS and scenic views along the way. It’s quite a shame I haven’t outgrown my motion sickness, because I think I was born for the mountains.
We walked from the top of the Waimakariri (“The Waimak”) River off State Highway 73 to the Carrington hut – a two day return, taking us a bit over 5 hours each day.
The weather on the first day was a bit less than ideal. It was mostly cold, rainy, and windy, but we were going hard enough to avoid getting too chilled (the first hour we spent taking on and off layers several times as the weather and our exposure changed, but it stayed pretty cold from there). We think we were on the tail end (and traveling in the same direction and same speed) of an unfortunate front, as we were being followed by a rainbow and clear sky as we battled our way through the wind and rain.
The majority of the time we spent walking along the river in the hard rocky knolls, originally carved out by glaciers,
although there were some parts of the trail that went up into Beech forest…
and other parts over soft and open grassy terrain.
We were followed by this kea for a while (much more beautiful in color and majestic in physique than this picture suggests). It was quite chatty!
The first hut we reached was our approximate halfway point.
Several river crossings made for some heavy boots and numb feet however. The Waimak is one of the largest rivers in the Canterbury region, its name meaning “river of cold rushing water” – which is quite accurate. It’s also a braided river, so just when you think you’ve made the last crossing necessary, you realize you actually have to cross several more sections. Parts of it were quite deep and rushing, so we linked up to trudge across safely.
Eventually though (and still in *relatively* good spirits), we made it to the Carrington hut – a serviced, 36 bunk facility with a fire (on the side of the hut that was already full, unfortunately), a sink (with drinkable roofwater that tasted like campfire), an outhouse, and four rooms with three sets of triple bunks (yes TRIPLE) each. We were surprised at how full it was considering the weather. You have to pay $15 for a bunk in a serviced hut, but it’s first come first serve so it’s good there was enough room for the 7 of us. We had a fun night with a big stew for dinner, and an easy going morning with a drawn out breakfast and some games of cards and charades before heading out.
Coming back, we tried much harder to avoid so many river crossings, but this led us out of the main riverbed trail onto steep mountainsides and dense woods. It definitely added character to our hike, and was fun to mix things up. Saw several awesome waterfalls this way, but too busy navigating to get any good pics!
We even had a couple adventurous spirits take a dip in one of the beautifully blue (and frigid) pools found along the way.
We shared lots of chocolate, nuts, dumpster bread, canned beans, and good yarns (I picked up that this was slang for conversations/stories/life chats, but I thought they were saying yawns the whole time!) with a bunch o’ larrikins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larrikin), but also spread out several times to quietly commune with nature, and collectively yet independently marched on in pursuit of not the destination, but the journey itself.
Please note that while there is a link to my Instagram pics at the bottom of this page, the pictures I post to my actual blog are NOT retouched. Also, as it would have been extremely difficult and terrifying to tramp with my Nikon, all of these pictures were taken on my IPhone 4 – thanks Aunt Ninny!