Refreshers Weekend

This past weekend I hiked along to Woolshed Creek Hut with the Tramping Club! For those asking yourself, “what is tramping???”, it is hiking! There were four different routes that the club took groups on and I went on the second hardest route. This meant 6+ hours of tramping with my pack – a challenge since this was my first time going on a backpacking trip, but a fun adventure!

Saturday: Met in the car park at 8 am and loaded up the vans to drive about 1.5 hours to the bottom of the trail. The weather was BEAUTIFUL. The sky was a clear blue which was a wonderful break from constant cloudy skies and chances of rain. We hiked for about 3.5 hours before stopping for lunch. We had just emerged from the woods so we took advantage of a big rock in the sun to warm up and relax. After regrouping, we were back on the trail and got to the Woolshed Hut just as the sun set behind the mountains. The sunset as we travelled up the last incline was breathtaking! Almost all New Zealand trails have “huts” along them – these are buildings with a few bunks to sleep on, some tables to relax at, an outhouse, and some running water. We weren’t so lucky with the pipes on this trip though, they were frozen! The amazing thing: we could fill up our water bottles from the streams without having to worry about contaminated water! It was really cool to see an environment so unharmed from human interaction. My group was the last one to make it to the hut, and by the time we arrived there was a growing tent village just across a stream from the hut (there were about 55 of us from the club on this trip!). My group joined in and pitched our tents before heading to the hut to cook up some much needed warm food – my cooking group made couscous with carrots and salami! Before we knew it the wind started to violently blow and the trip leaders were telling us all to check our tents and their stability. My tentmates and I went out, put some heavy rocks on our stakes to keep everything in place, then headed back to the warmth. As the night drew on the wind grew stronger and when we finally decided to go to bed we discovered that one of our tent poles had broken! Back to the hut we went…. and we were not the only ones. There weren’t enough bunks for everyone who was affected by the great winds, so we all grabbed some floor space and dozed off into some much needed sleep – frequently interrupted by the sound of a monstrous wind attacking the hut.

Sunset on Saturday

Sunday: We were woken up just before 8 by the trip leaders saying that there was a nasty storm rolling in and we had 45 minutes before we all hit the trails again. When I looked out of the hut window across the stream I saw about 4 tents still left standing…. we started with around 20 up there. That wind was crazy – and we weren’t done with it yet. We all quickly made some breakfast (oatmeal for my friends and I), got our gear together, and headed off in groups of 8 along the shortest trail – one that should take around 2 or 3 hours to hike. Just minutes after setting off, we were hit with massive winds and rain. As we got further up the mountain the rain felt like sleet was slapping against my face and the wind nearly blew me and my pack over a few times. Adding to the fun – ICE. There was a lot of snow and ice on the trail the previous day, but with no other weather obstacles, it was manageable, but with  heavy rain and wind, it definitely slowed us down. We slowly but surely made our way down the mountain and, just as the sun came out, we made it to the car park. I quickly stripped off my drenched clothing and threw on the only dry items I had left. Just as I was repacking my bag, the rain returned and we all huddled under the small structure in the car park. We then piled back into the vans and made our way to a small town halfway between Christchurch and the trail. We gave the small supermarket and coffee shop some great business as we showed up hungry for warm food. We also got to enjoy the yummy food beneath some wonderful sunshine. It is crazy how fast the weather changes in New Zealand! After filling our bellies and drying ourselves out a little, we travelled the rest of the way home.

First thing I did when I got back to my flat was unpack my bag to air everything out and then took a much needed warm shower! So many different things went “wrong” this weekend, but my motto for while I am abroad (and hopefully for when I return as well) is “it is all part of the adventure!!” (or some variation of that…). Tents breaking, disgusting morning oatmeal mixed with last nights burnt couscous, freezing rain and wind, it is ALL just another part of a wonderful adventure! I also got to meet some really great people this weekend – a couple awesome kiwis and lots of other international students all pumped to take advantage of the awesome country that we get to study in.

What I learned from this weekend: hiking pants are SO underrated and TOTALLY awesome. I had a pair of pants, capris, AND shorts all in one, and they have so many awesome pockets! I kept my gopro in my pocket all day Saturday and it was always available to grab an awesome shot (as seen above). I wore them this morning in the pouring rain, and though they aren’t waterproof, they didn’t soak the water in like a pair of my leggings might, so they got the job done! Might not be the most fashionable item, but they sure do rock!

Date: Jul 25-26, 2015
Tramps: 55 all up

Location: Woolshed Creek Hut, Mt Somars

Words & Images: Kendall Coffman