Thursday, March 13, 2014

Humpridge Track!

Dan the Man and I hiked the Humpridge Track over 3 days. One of the great things about a lot of the big trails in NZ is that there are some awesome huts along the way that are stocked with cooking supplies and facilities, some private rooms with nice beds to rent if you want, or at least a bed in a bunkroom with a sleeping bag. You can book these in advance and even have your things helicoptered in if you want. Lucky for us, we got our accommodation for free as we had agreed to be the medical staff for an upcoming event on the trail. So we had some 'light' traveling to do as they had sleeping bags for us at the first hut. So we got started early on Day 1, and set off from sea level, to climb all the way up the Humpridge after a quick 20 kilometers of hiking.

There were a lot of suspension bridges along the way.

There is a nice flat stretch along the beach before the steep grunt up the ridge. Our destination for Day 1 is the little dip in the ridge in the middle of the picture above. 

Another Suspension Bridge!

Refill station along the trail. You just lower the 'billy' (NZ for bucket) into the stream and drink it... Apparently giardia doesn't exist this far South in New Zealand, so that's awesome!

After the steepest portion of the trail, we made up up to Stag Point, which is a welcome landmark because it means we're only about an hour away from the top.

Stag Point Rest Stop!

And this is at the very top of the ridge! There are some pools up there that the lodge gets its water supply from. The views up here were stunning, and they only got better as night fell.

Exploring the summit.

They should call this spot 'Selfie Point' because we both clearly felt like this was a good spot to take a picture of ourselves.
Hard to argue with that logic, huh?

So after getting settled in at the lodge, and exploring the summit, we settled in for an incredibly awkward dinner with the other hikers who were up there. No one was speaking, and it was just uncomfortably quiet. So as sunset approached, Dan and I got out of there and went back up to the summit to have a look

We were rewarded with this view.

and this one.

The same Tarn from before.

and then we decided this rock formation needed to be conquered, even though we weren't supposed to leave the trail.  Here's Dan modeling the landscape. Pretty impressive from this angle.

And even better from this angle. This was pretty awesome. 

Switch! We switched places, which was easier said than done as there wasn't an easy way to get up on that rock. as the person not climbing the rock, we each had a brief moment of panic as the other person climbed up because you disappear from sight as you climb around the back, and as you're waiting for them to pop up on top of the rock, it's a little concerning that the climber just fell off the back... But we both popped up on top before we had to send a search party. 

Day 2 started with a couple hours of rain and a steep downhill section that was killer on the knees, but it flattened out after the first 5 hours and was a straight shot to the coast. Above is the Percy Burn Viaduct, which is one of the tallest viaducts on the Southern Hemisphere. Unfortunately for us, it is currently closed, so you can't cross it.... So we had to walk down the gorge and back up.

The second lodge was next to the coast, another 20 kilometers from the summit. Upon our arrival, the host upgraded us to one of the sweet private rooms with nice beds and it was awesome. Also upon our arrival, we were swarmed with Sandflies, so that put a damper on our excitement over the upgrade. We went to explore the coast, and this is a site of an abandoned lumber mill town, so there was a lot of old machinery and stuff laying around. More interesting than the rusty remnants was the Hector's Dolphins that Dan swam with in the bay there.  Also exciting: the other hikers had a complete turn around and we all hung out and talked and visited all evening at the lodge and just had a great time. SUCH a difference!

Day 3 was a final 20 kilometers to close the loop around the coast and that was it for round 1 of the Humprodge track. 24 hours later, we were all set to fly back up to the top to do our part as the medical crew for a station on the Stump the Hump event where participants of the event run the entire trail (60km) in 24 hours or less. Stay tuned for how that played out.... It was an experience I won't soon forget.

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