Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mt. Saint Bathans

This past weekend, I joined up with four members of the University of Otago Tramping Club for a getaway.  Where did we head this time? Why, Mt. Saint Bathans in Central Otago via Oteake Conservation Park, of course!

It's lambing season in New Zealand and so the countryside is filled with white fluff on four legs scampering about other sheep. They are so cute! I'd much rather watch baby sheep frolicking in pastures to pass the time in the car then the typical car ride games (I believe "20 Questions" was a popular choice on the trip to Curio Bay). Much to my delight, we also passed by these "Oreo" cows, too!

Saturday was an easy day.  We left Dunedin at 10am, drove a little while, then took a right turn onto a dirt road.  Penzy's car, "Scoobie," navigated through six fords before we reached one that just couldn't be conquered.

An unanimous decision was made to park the car, have some lunch, and head to the hut.  Luckily, we had these road signs to help us remember where we left the car:

One thing I love about tramping is everyone's ability to shrug off the little things, like using a Croc as a cheese platter:

Like I said, it was an easy day - we didn't have to leave early and the 8k track (just shy of 6 miles) was flat.  

But, we had a few obstacles between us and the hut.  Thirteen obstacles to be exact.

It seemed as soon as our feet dried off... was time to cross another river.

And, another river...

The weather was quite interesting -  it was windy and it hailed on and off.  It made for an interesting sky!

We reached Boundary Creek Hut with plenty of daylight to burn.  We used this as an opportunity to get the wood burner nice and hot so that our tramping boots would dry out and spent the rest of the time chillaxing.  I read a paper on an ACT-based weight loss program, as only a good postgrad would do!

Photo credit: Asbjørn Knutsen Romstøl

Sunday morning began with a 6:30am wake up groan and some muesli.  Then we were off to the Mt. St. Bathans summit.

We walked roughly 18 miles on Sunday, but didn't make it to the summit.  Regardless, it was still a pleasant hike!

We brought snowshoes and used them through a few dodgy sections.  I was happy to put the skills I learned a little while back to some use!  For the most part, though, we walked through the snow with no issues.

Photo credit: Cleo Davie-Martin

Photo credit: Cleo Davie-Martin

There wasn't enough time to make it to the summit, return to the hut to pick up the rest of our gear, cross 13 rivers and finally reach the car before the sun went down.  Instead, we had a leisurely lunch and snapped a few photos before turning back.

Best photo that I've ever taken!

Photo credit: Ryan Newell

The trip back to the hut was pretty fun because the ice and snow were a little melted.  We were able to slide on our heels down some of the steep sections.

Once we were out of the snow, we caught a glimpse of a few geckos - the first time I've seen them in New Zealand!

All in all, it was a really fun weekend.  Penzy, Cleo, Asbjorn, Ryan and myself had some good laughs - mainly because Asbjorn had a thing for randomly blurting out lyrics to 80s/90s tunes.  When I think about the best way to spend $35, this is hands down a better option than staying in Dunedin and going drinking/dancing in the Octagon on a Saturday night.  $35 would get me three or four drinks and what would I have to show for that?  I strongly encourage University of Otago students to join the Tramping Club so that they can see New Zealand on a tight budget.  I can't always guarantee you'll be tramping with a Norwegian who sings Michael Jackson songs on the top of a mountain, but I can say for certain the views are top notch and conquering those climbs is such a rush!

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