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Forum Home > General Discussion > XC's Christmas Break 21 Dec - 4 Jan 2010

XenaCommander
Site Owner
Posts: 28

Mission Goal:  Rest and Recreation

XC has been working far too hard recently so took off the week before Christmas with the intention of doing very little and getting some rest... and ...   yeah right.... Maybe I will read my book....   XC is not very good at doing "nothing" these days....

 

I picked up the truck from Truck Stops on Saturday and on Monday TK and I set off in her towards Turangi for the Christmas break.   After a visit to Lotus windows we parked over night at The Little Waipa Reserve next to Lake Karipiro..

 

 

A beautiful place to stay in the truck...   easy access and great outlook....   There was a housetruck in the corner but didn't look like there was anyone in residence when we arrived...

 

 

TK sticks her head out of the truck while I had the camera in hand...   Get back to the Galley..!!  Lol.....!

 

 

Now how about that for a view...   Nice outlook...

 

 

The Room...  With the view...   nice when nobody is around and you can leave the door open...  lol...

 

 

TK attempting to catch a fish...!!    The fish are safe...  It doesn't matter if she catches anything or not it is fun trying...   What a great outlook.

 

 

No fish were caught but fun was had....    We spent an enjoyable evening there...  a nice steak meal..  Wine...  Sheer hell really...    Next morning we took our time to pack up and then drove south to Turangi.

 

Mission:  To Hunt Caches in Valley of the Gods

 

Christmas Eve day we decided to load the Mountain bikes on the Carib and head into the Kaimanawas to knock off a few geocaches that have been sitting there waiting for us..   We have pretty much cleaned out the caches in the area except these...  They were put down by Punga and Paua... Local cachers and we haven't had the chance to go get them until now...  They are all themed on the Valley of the Gods and feature different mythical gods like Aphrodite...  Hades etc...

 

Well we unloaded the bikes at the trailhead...

 

And head off....   We had six caches to find...  and knowing Punga and Paua they werent going to be easy.

 

 

Steely determination on the face of XC as he rides up the beech leaf covered track.....

 

 

Such a beautiful place to ride... or walk....

 

 

TK doing what she loves... On a cycle of some kind...

 

 

We found 5 out of 6 caches...  So we will have to go back and find the Aphrodite cache...   We searched twice to no avail...  TK above signing the log of one we did manage to find...    Great fun..  A great sport that takes you to beautiful places.

 

Mission mostly accomplished....

 

Christmas eve evening was a very pleasant evening on the deck with BBQ going and lots of chat and catch up with the neighbours...  Richard and Rachel..  Local celebrities...   Rach runs "Thyme For Food" cafe in Turangi... a great place...  and Richard works at the local prison when he is not running Warlock Records...  Both local volunteer Fire Brigade members...   Nice people...  I found out that Richard is a connoisseur of Bourbon...!!   Being a whiskey man I was open to a new experience so I was enticed to try some 26+ year old Bourbon...   Hmmm must say it was nice...  Thank you Richard...    A great evening...

 

 

Mission:   To place two Geocaches on Tongariro Crossing

Christmas day was an enjoyable quiet day with friends..  Enjoying company and conversation...  the odd bottle of beer...  Chat...  Catching up...  Wine...   Food...  so much food...  Did I mention Wine.....

 

So on Boxing day I had to work off some of the excess in calories...   It was time for a walk...  I was going to tramp up to Thunderbolt but thought it would be a good idea to do a warm up walk first...

 

We wanted to place a couple more Geocaches across the Tongariro Crossing on the Mangatipopo side...  So we drove the carib over to the start of track and walked up to Soda Springs... 

 

 

A nice easy walk up to just before the track starts to head up the Devils Staircase...  There is a side trip to Soda Springs clearly marked.. .   We head over and found a nice spot to place a cache...

 

 

XC prepping the cache before placement....  Mt Doom in the background...  You can see the track of the Devils Staircase over my right shoulder winding up...   I think we will go put another cache on top of that as well to entice people up.

 

 

TK at the waterfall.  Pic taken from the cache GZ...   This waterfall is very near volcanic fissures and the water picks up minerals...  Very interesting smells and colours in the water..   It is also the only place on the mountain where you can find the Mountain Buttercup in abundance..   Very nice place well worth the visit.

 

 

View looking down the valley....

 

So once the cache was hidden we head back to the main track and up the Devils Staircase...  this is now a much easier track than it was a year or so ago...  

 

 

It even has steps...   Luxury..!!  the old track went straight up a ravine..  stepping up huge boulders on the way..!!  

 

Once on the top we had to find an out of the way spot to hide the cache...  Not an easy task on a busy day as there were people stopped for lunch...  This is a very popular walk in summer with 2,000 plus people a day walking it...

 

So I had to move slight further away to place the cache in the rocks...  I marked the position on my GPS and took a pic.  

 

 

Rock in the foreground is where I stashed the cache...  Nice backdrop of Ngaruhoe.   You can see the tracks the people take to climb to the top...   Crazy.. but I might do it one day....

 

The wind got up and it got pretty cold so we head back down to the carpark where we left the Carib...  We will go up the other side to check our caches later in the holiday.

 

Mission Accomplished...

 

It seems there is a limit to the size i can post on here so I have continued my adventures on the next reply post...  

 

XC

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Participating in Life

December 28, 2009 at 4:54 PM Flag Quote & Reply

XenaCommander
Site Owner
Posts: 28

Mission: To go fetch Geocache GC1ZB70 The Beckoning Silence

 

December 27th... I didn't want to delay it any further.... Someone else might beat me to it..!! GuanoGerbil aka Marcus placed a cache on top of Thunderbolt Peak in the Kaimanawas last October and still hasn't been found so this was the time to do it... Yesterday was a nice little warm up for this which I expect to be about 34km walk over mountainous country...

 

 

Backpack all packed and provisioned... GPS locked and loaded with waypoints to make sure I knew where I was going TK drove me in to the start of the Urchin Track..

 

 

 

 

The weather wasn't as fine as I would have wanted it but I was prepared for any conditions and wanted to go anyway.. For me it wasn't about the views... It was about the walk and being in nature whatever it was doing.

 

 

Climbing up through the beech forests make this area a favourite of mine... The leaves making a nice carpet to walk over....

 

 

 

 

All you have to do is follow the little orange markers up the track... Yeah right..!! sometimes the wind fall drops trees over the track and the track disappears..!!! but if you do a detour you should be back on track again....

 

 

 

Beautiful bush track... Going up... up.... The old legs were screaming very quickly let alone the old heart pumping..!!! I did take many breaks to let the heart settle down to a suitable manic state..!!

 

 

 

Many obstacles were met... and over come.. some easier than others... I got lost off track and attacked by bush lawyer... a viscious vine with thorns... oh well... only scratches...

 

 

After a few kilometers going UP.... I broke out of the trees onto the tops... Weather not too bad but forecast to be worse so I took a couple of pics of the views...

 

 

View back towards Turangi... Note the track out of the bush I had just come out of...

 

 

Further around towards Tongariro... The best views of the trip...

 

 

Further around again to our friend Mt Ruapehu... Always a beautiful sight... shrouded in clouds today. The weather got worse as time went on....

 

 

 

Onwards and upwards and across the tops... the track clearly marked over here...

 

 

Past Mt Urchin and over the tops and looking down to where I am headed.. Into the valley with the Waipakihi River running down it... Heaven on earth...

 

 

 Down into the bush again... Of course you think it is a lot easier going down hill... but very soon because it is so steep my legs are screaming again.. Keep going Commander...

I saw signs that I was following on someones heels.. on the tops I picked up a packet of cigarette papers... as I got towards the bottom I came across a hunter and his dog... having a smoke.. Of course I smelt the smoke long before catching up to him... We had a chat.. I returned his fag papers... and I moved on past him. Always interesting running into folk in these remote places... We are all crazy..!!! lol...

 

 

 

Down to the river... I took off my boots and put on sandals to wade down the river a kilometer where the track goes up to Thunderbolt... As I walked along the river bed a young woman with pack comes into view.. She looked pleased to see me.. She came over and asked where she was and how much further to the Urchin Track. I showed her the GPS and said she didn't have far to go.. Talk about pleased... She nearly hugged me in gratitude as she had been hiking from the hut up the river and thought it would take 3 hours.. Instead of the six hours she had been walking already. Having already done that walk I knew what she meant. A wave and she was off...

 

I walked on until I found the sign to Thunderbolt.

 

 

I dropped the pack and looked for a place to pitch a tent for the night... In the end I chose the spot you can see above the sign on the other side of the river...

 

 

All set for the night.... I didn't bother with a fire but enjoyed a dip in the river to wash the sweat away and soothe the muscles... Thank god for remoteness where a Commander can skinny dip.. and no there is no pics.. lol..

 

The night wasn't the best night I have had in a tent.... I am sure there were beasties and varmints walking around the tent while I was asleep... After a couple of false starts I woke at first light... and after breakfast packed up the camp and got ready for the big day ahead...   Loading a day pack with warm gear and water...

 

 

Time for a dawn shot of the river before I head up the hill.. I head out at 0600 wondering how long I will be walking today... My plan was if I got back to the river in time I would walk out... If not I would camp another night.

We will see how the legs hold out...

Stashing the big pack at the bottom of the track I head up another steep track... Not so visible but marked with the friendly orange triangles... I forgot to stop and take pics... It was another very beautiful beech forest with Kiwi calling nearby... The old legs and heart were working overtime... Did someone say that you only have so many heart beats in a life time... well this is a certain way to shorten your life span as it was pounding as I trekked up and up.... a lot higher than I was yesterday.... Until I came out of the bush again...

 

 

View back down again... Weather was the best of the day at this time...

 

 

The higher I got the more the clouds formed... I stopped for a breather at this cairn.. and a bite of fuel... finishing the last banana squashed in my pack..!!

 

Pic is where I have to go up over the tops following cairns all the way...

 

 

The track was not always obvious so I had to try and spot the next cairn to reinforce that I was on the right track... In the misty clouds you can see there was a big peak... and yes I did have to climb over the top of it..!!

 

It was just over this peak that I got disoriented and missed a cairn... and went way off track... I wasted about half an hour bush bashing in a valley and mumbling that I had made a mistake and need to get back on track.. So I climbed up to the tops again and spotted a cairn... which was the last one I had seen before going off track... This time I went higher and spotted the track and the next cairn.. whew...!

 

 

It was clear in this little saddle... just before it really closed in and poured with rain... You can see the track going up the other side... XC was still determined... watching the GPS pointer count down the metres to the treasure...!!

Still over a kilometer to go and wondering how many more peaks between....

Over a couple more and I was getting close now...

 

 

Getting close and I found the marker on Thunderbolt Peak... but the cache was still three hundred odd metres away... oh my god..!  Cunning Guano Gerbil....  and the arrow is pointing higher up... No... He didn't put it on top of the peak..!! So off I go still determined.. I have come this far... I got quite high with my head down against the rain...  check the GPSr and noted the arrow had swung to the left... downhill!!! so in the rain I followed the arrow.. 50m... 30m.... 19m... and I spotted the likely spot....

 

Found..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

I unearthed the cache from its little hidey hole....

 

Yes.. All this way for a little plastic container.. Opened it up and found the log book.... empty....

 

FIRST TO FIND...!!! Yes...

 

It was blowing cold wind and rain so I didn't want to stay long... I signed the log and left my calling card... Took the obligatory pic with the view behind....

 

 

No views today... but who cares...  the achievement was felt...  I knocked the buggar off...  

Of course that was half the mission..  Now I had to get back home....

 

 

Following the cairns back home was made easier in that I had the track I came on on the GPSr...  So when I couldnt spot a cairn I looked at my track and saw that I was going left or right of the track I had already made and corrected...

 

On the way over the tops in the mist and rain I had to stop frequently to wipe my glasses from sweat and rain... In the end I put them in my cache bag and went without.... Now that made things interesting but the GPSr put me right if I made too much of a misjudgement...   

In the mist I could hear some voices.... and sure enough I saw the silhoette of some people in the murk...  I called ahoy and walked up to them... lengthening my stride to show that I wasn't knackered as I felt..!! lol...

Had a chat to a family... Mum, Dad who worked for Fish and Bird... and three teens...  and a poodle...!!  all out for a tramp across the tops and down to Waipakihi Hut...  Enjoyed a chat about geocaching and tramping and went out separate ways...   Only nice people can be found up here....

 

The rest of the walk down was non eventful... apart from being within a few metres of a Kiwi calling in the bush.. It was so close...  didn't see it though...    Just as I was approaching where  I left my pack I said in my mind that I hadn't slipped on my rear this trip...   and of course no sooner had the words gone through my head...  I was on my ass...   mumble..  no damage done except pride and mental note to be careful of wet roots..!!!

 

I got down to the pack.  Boots were already wet so I didn't bother putting on sandals I just repacked day pack into the big pack...  threw it on and hit the river and walked down to the entrance to the Urchin Track again.

 

 

XC taking a well earned rest before the assult on the upward track again....   The plan was to walk out if I made it back in time to do so...    My body was in need of carbs so I ate the rest of the bread i was carryng and smeared TKs marmalade on it for sugar energy...   a few nuts for protein... lots of water....    All fuelled up.. Lets go.

 

Going was slow..  Legs were tired...  I had already tramped 19km and still had lots to go...  mostly up and down...  With frequent stops I made it to the tops and texted TK my ETA...

 

I stopped at my own Mt Urchin Tops geocache and checked that it was all ok...   It has only had a couple of signatures.   Not many adventurous cachers in the area...  oh well....  their loss...

 

Down into the bush again and 3km to go all downhill....    Many Kiwi calling all around me...   The wings of wood pigeon...   twitter of fantails...  No Kaka sighted this time...  but they are in here..

If any of you who read this and enjoy native bush I would highly recommend this part of the country for a tramp. It is truely beautiful...

 

 

Sights like this huge grandfather tree..  now past his prime but at least 8 feet across and very majestic...

 

I got back down to the pickup point just after 1900...  so I had been walking 13 hours... Mostly uphill... and downhill...   My GPS track is below....

 

 

The GPS told me I walked about 34kms...   9 yesterday and 25 today...   but that is only recorded as though the terrain was flat...  so I wonder what the total distance was including the ups and the downs...  

Well whatever they were I enjoyed every metre of the way.   Not sure I would do it every week but a trek like this once a year works well for me...    and if it wasn't for Geocaching I would have had no reason to do it....

Thanks Marcus for the challenge...  Whats next..??

 

XC

 

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Participating in Life

December 28, 2009 at 7:52 PM Flag Quote & Reply

XenaCommander
Site Owner
Posts: 28

Wednesday 30th December

Mission: To place a couple of Geocaches on the Plateau

A clear day dawned and after having spent yesterday working on the truck I decided today was a day for R & R...    TK wanted to take me up to the Historic Waihohonu Hut....  This hut was on the old coach road before cars were strong enough to battle the desert road...  and it was also the first ski hut in the north island for trampers and early skiers...

We had a casual lazy start to the day so we took our time loading the carib with a day pack and a couple of loaded geocaches...  Then drove down to the desert road and found the turn off to the track...

 

Hmmm after the   L O N G   tramp the other day I wasn't sure I was looking forward to more...  although logic was telling me that it would be good for the legs to consolidate the work they did on the mountain climb...  Note the sign doesn't say how far in Kms we had to go...  but only estimated times...  I am pleased to say we didn't need all the time stated so I guess the legs were still working ok....

 

So off we go with the mountains in the distance...  getting closer with every step..!!   TK had been up this track many times so I wasn't worried about navigation although I was carrying the GPSr...  and laying down a track..  (Hee hee..  Dont tell her but I don't trust her navigation...  she has proven that she has the navigation skills of a caged budgie..!!!)

 

Then we come across the a bridge crossing the Waihohonu River...  Amazing volume of water going down this river...

 

and so clear....  straight off the mountain....

 

 

The down stream direction....   amazing spot....

 

We continued on a way and walked into a nice beech forest...  always a favourite place to be for me...

As we were walking under the canopy I spotted a North Island Robin...  Sooo cute....  I whistled at him hoping he would stay while I got out my camera...  He peeped away... coming closer to my calls...  then I snapped him not sure if he was in the frame...

 

 

Can you spot him in there..  He was so cute... and seemed to enjoy our company for a while...

We turned off at a junction to the Waihohonu Hut...  which is the new hut... 

 

Down into some nice beech forest.. . These trees are like bonsai beech having been continually stunted by the weather...   and the mossy branches...   very nice..   I like the forest in this fine weather but it looks so much nicer in the wet....

I took a snap of the cat (TechnoKitten) on the track ahead through the trees...  

 

 

Can you spot her lurking...??     Onwards to the new hut..    Found it ok and then TK took us on a couple of dead end attempts to find the old hut..  hmmm  good old budgie navigation..   he he....

We went into the new hut and i checked the map on the wall and worked out where we should go..  So set off again...   TK grabbed the camera and caught me off guard...!!

 

 

XC having a much easier walk than the other day...  but the legs were reminding me that they had done some work over these holidays....  

We went back to the main track and soon TK spotted the hut over in the tree line on the left...   Off onto the side track and we soon arrived at the historical building...

 

 

Wow...  What a great place...  sheltered.. nice grassy spot..  and an amazingly restored old building..  A local historical group have done some great work to restore the building...   We went in and had a look inside...

 

 

The inside has been preserved with lots of momentos and plaques where many people over the years had carved their names and dates of visit on walls and bunks..   Very cool.. 

 

 

TK has many memories of staying in this hut many years ago...   I won't elaborate here...  She wanted to place a cache here so we found a likely spot behind the hut...  and I took the GPS coords for the cache web page...

You can check the geocache listing if you follow this link...  http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=e26bf876-d1d0-4448-bbb5-13090b991e99

 

That done it was time for a bite...  I was getting peckish...   TK had packed some left over ham sandwiches...

 

 

Nice spot for a picnic....  You have to walk around 6 km to get there...   We enjoyed a bite then headed back to the main track and headed back to the car with the intention of placing the second cache near the bridge we crossed on the way in...   We reached the intersection we had previously passed...  One sign was pointing to a place called Ohinepango Springs...   TK had never been there and wanted to go and look..  Oh well may as well seeing as we were here...

 

So off we set on a side trip..  and very pleased we made the effort..  we walked down into a valley where another river was running...

 

 

The river was so clear....   Of course it was the river that came from the springs we were looking for... so had been filtered through the mountainous underground before coming to the surface...

 

 

Well worth the effort...  well we had come this far.. may as well....   so we followed the track to the source of the spring...

 

 

What a treat..   The water was amazingly clear..  we followed it right up to where it came out of the hole in the ground...  I was so tempted to strip off and jump in...    I managed to resist...:dry:

We actually even went up the hill in case there was a stream feeding the river.. but all the water came from underground..  very cool...   Well pretty cold actually..!!

 

TK found a place to hide a cache...  and I took the GPS coordinates for the profile..  You can check it out if you want...

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=38c7048f-827d-47f4-88b4-b2bf72a16950

It still hasn't been found so you could be the first if you are quick...  

 

On the way out of the valley I took a pic of what will always be one of my favourite spots on the plateau...  (Well I do have many favourites....  but this has definitely joined the list..... )

 

 If you get the chance... come and look for yourself...

On the way out we crossed over landscape that could have been on another planet..  such is the nature of the plateau.... 

 

 

Great moonscape...     We trekked back to the car... which always seems shorter than the trip in.. but enjoyed every turn...  and it was thank fully mostly downhill...

 

 

TK having a munch before we set off for Turangi...

 

Mission Accomplished and great fun had....

XC

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Participating in Life

December 31, 2009 at 11:51 PM Flag Quote & Reply

XenaCommander
Site Owner
Posts: 28

Saturday 2 Jan 2010 Overnight Camp

After doing a couple of jobs on the truck on Saturday TK suggested we take the truck over the hill and stop overnight...  Why not..  sounds like fun.   So we loaded up the required victuals and set out over the hill..    On the way over I decided it would be nice to go and show the truck to Annie and Paul at Adventure Headquarters...  It was only a few kilometres past the place we wanted to go to.

We pulled up outside and Annie and friends came and inspected the truck.   It is always nice to show it off to friends.   They loved it of course..   Annies friends took a couple of pics..   I will try to get copies and post here.

After a nice visit we head back down the road to Wairehu Canal and drove down to the boat ramp next to Lake Otamangakau.   A very pleasant spot...  Nice and quiet with even frogs croaking in the water...

TK tried her hand at fishing...  I am still looking forward to that trout dinner..!!  I put up a target and did some target practice with an air rifle...  Read a book...  and enjoyed a nice quiet evening by the lake...

After breakfast we strike camp...  TK is retrieving targets from the bushes...   Local hoons had made a mess in the area so I gave TK a hand to pick up the worst of the glass...  So we left the area better than it was when we arrived...

On the way back to Turangi I stopped at a rest area where TK had previously planted a geocache and called it "Commanders Rest" to commemorate a bike ride we did up the hill and I had to stop for a rest..!! lol...    So it seemed appropriate that I take "Commanders Rest" to GZ of "Commanders Rest"...!!

Commanders Rest at Commanders Rest..!!!   Very appropriate....

Some more work on the truck today and this afternoon we spotted that there was a new cache published on the hill behind Turangi.   So we jumped in the car and drove up as close as we could and walked up to the cache.  We got the cache ok but not first to find...   oh well..

On the way back to the car I spotted a huge Dragonfly on the ground..   He was alive but not happy...  I picked him up for a closer look and he climbed on my finger freely....

He was the biggest dragonfly I have seen for years... 

 

Hello Friend.....    He didn't want to fly away so I placed him on a bush hoping he would recover and fly away.     It is always nice to meet nature up close.

That was about all the adventures had for the holidays...   I drove back to Auckland today.. Monday 4 January...   Back to work tomorrow...   Mumble..

It was a great Christmas break..  Lots of fun and adventures and time with friends...  Thanks to TK for her hospitality and supporting me in my addictions....!!  lol....

More adventures to come...

 

XC

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Participating in Life

January 4, 2010 at 3:27 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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