[info]aldiara wrote
on September 2nd, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Stuff Wot I Did On My Hols (Part 2) - A Shitload of Hiking

Last week I hiked nearly 40 km in one day. Yesssssss. It made me feel like this:

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I'd been meaning to do the Dun Mountain Trail for years; alas, the friend who meant to do it with me ran off to California to get married, which seems a bit of an extreme measure just to get out of one hiking commitment, so I suppose it's possible that wasn't his sole motivation and he, y'know, actually loved the girl.

Last week I figured who knows how long it would be before I had time again, so I randomly decided to do it on my own. Excitement! First of all, the freaking thing is called Dun Mountain! Major Paths of the Dead vibes. Say what you will about Orlando, but his voice is lovely. (I crave a LotR rewatch something wicked.)



Second of all, it is REALLY LONG. Behold the route in yellow:

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The Dun Mountain Trail is primarily advertised as a mountain biking trail, which in my humble opinion is COMPLETE INSANITY BECAUSE HELLO, THAT IS HOURS OF GOING UPHILL. ON A BIKE. AND THEN DOWNHILL WITH GAZILLIONS OF ROCKS ROLLING AWAY UNDER YOUR TYRES. WHERE DOES THAT GET FUN.

Yeah, so there was no way I was going to bike - frankly I was glad enough to get off my bike after cycling to the start of the trail where I could start walking (walking is good. Walking doesn't make your heart explode or rivers of sweat break out all over you or give you knotted calves). I set out super-early, as in 6am early. Since it was still technically winter, this meant I started out hiking through pitch-black woods, ever alert for werewolves. I did have a torch but only turned it on when I was unsure of my footing, because honestly, torchlight in nightly forests is way creepier and Blair Witchier than just nightly forests all by themselves. I was pretty glad to see dawn creeping up, I gotta say.

It's a loooong hike (advertised as 10 hours' walk) but once the sun was up, it was easy going and I was making good time, feeling for all the world like this:



Good times. There wasn't a soul on the trail all day except for one poor insane mountain biker who passed me in the afternoon. The Dun Mountail Trail follows an old miners' railway track from the 1860s that was only active for a few years - basically a bunch of settlers discovered copper and ore deposits up there, built a precarious railway all the way up the mountain to transport what they'd mined down to the valley, and then within a couple of years realised the deposits were running out fast, so dismantled the railway again. Occasionally you still step on sleepers on the trail, and there's dilapidated kilns and former mining sites alongside it. It's pretty cool.

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(Third House shelter, built in place of one of the old miners' huts)

The trail is also a great example of New Zealand's astonishing array of microcosms - the landscape can change so quickly. One minute I'd be walking through lush forest:

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...and then I'd step across a tiny brook and literally from one stride to the next, the flora would change completely and suddenly I'd be walking through this:

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After several hours of traipsing through the woods, I greatly enjoyed the highland shrubbery en route to Coppermine Saddle, which allowed for some fantastic views.

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Coppermine Saddle lies smack in the middle of the Nelson Mineral belt, which means there are a lot of minerals in the ground that are toxic to most plant life, so there's not much growing up there. This stretch of the trail is described as dull and monotonous, but I have to say it was actually one of my favourite bits - the toxins in the ground have lent some fantastic colours to the rocks, so they're all lovely shades of red and yellow streaked with blue, and there are some itty-bitty flowers up there that have adapted to the hostile environment and are unique in all the world. It's pretty amazing.

After crossing the saddle, it was downhill on the other side for several hours - I love loop hikes because I find it so dull when you have the same way back, but this bit stretched on and on and on. It's all ochre ground and ochre rocks like this:

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...and I stubbed my toes on those damn rocks on the path about a million times (my toenails are still blue from it a week later /TMI). This was also where that lonely mountain biker passed me and I was SO GLAD I was not on a bike, lol - he was getting every bone in his body rattled by riding over those rocks and it did not look the least bit pleasant.

Once I got back down from the mountain on the other side, I crossed the Maitai River bridge:

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...and then followed the Maitai River for the rest of the day, along some gorgeous wooded paths next to the river:

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...and all the way to the Maitai Dam: Photobucket

...and back to town from there, with the last couple of hours being admittedly torture. BUT I FINISHED THE WHOLE DAMN HIKE. And I was very proud of myself - I'm pretty out of shape these days so it was cool to realise that if I put my mind to it, I can still walk 40k in a day, bitches. (Just don't ask me about the state of my feet the day after, lol). But yeah, it was pretty fantastic.

I also ran into lots of these:

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...and plenty of these:

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Didn't find any of these:

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...but then I admit I may not have been looking closely enough. I was marching fast and didn't take many breaks and the whole thing still took 10 hours. Kiwis don't faff about with their estimates of hiking distances!

(I didn't bring a camera so all the pics are nabbed off the net. It was way pretty, just take my word for it, kk?)

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