Here’s a little trip report of one of the recent trips of the Christchurch branch of the Trailbabies – we had an awesome little outing to our beloved Pack Horse Hut again!
Pretty early on right as we started climbing the trail, we walked right into a low cloud that was covering most of the ridge that the hut is on. There was no wind at all and it was quite warm; walking in the mist like that was a very atmospheric experience.
When we came to the first little creek crossing, Loki stopped the whole group and gave us a little safety speech, explaining that it is better to walk straight through the water instead of trying to balance over rocks, because you can slip or trip when trying to do the latter, and that can lead to serious accidents. About two minutes later, Sarah did a demonstration for us of how true that is, resulting in a half tennis ball sized bruise on her forehead and clothes that were considerably wetter than they would have got from just walking through the stream. Luckily her head seems to be as robust as her sense of humour, and we were able to continue with our hike, although we kept a careful eye on her for the rest of the day in case of any signs of concussion. No rocks were harmed during this exercise.
After around three and a half hours we all reached the hut, made ourselves comfortable, chopped some firewood and started the log burner. With thirteen people we pretty much maxed out the capacity of the hut this time. We all found a bunk to sleep, but another dad with his two ten and twelve year old sons who also happened to be at the hut the same night ended up sleeping in the common room – it was no problem though, and everyone enjoyed each other’s company.
When the sun came out in the late afternoon, a few of us decided to go on a little stroll to check on our recently placed geocache up there, and we enjoyed a nice sunny evening for an hour or so before getting back to the hut to start cooking our dinner.
I was too lazy to light the alcohol stove and decided to cook on the log burner instead. That is good for simmering, but not fast enough to boil water to cook with. Since I have a stainless steel pot, I decided to put it right into the embers of the log burner fire, which brought the water to a boil in a crazy short time. Later on I found out that if I actually close the log burner door with the pot in the fire, that gets even faster, and boiled a litre of water from the cistern outside in under two minutes! I was blown away and will cook like that every time we have a fire from now on, in a log burner or otherwise. There’s just no reason to start a cooker when you have a 8 kilowatt (or so) fire going! Just don’t try that with an aluminium pot, you’ll melt it into a clump in moments.
Despite outside temperatures near zero we had a very cosy night in the hut, thanks to a few good people who kept the fire going through the night.
The next morning was sunny and the wind had changed to a northerly, which meant that after a good breakfast, we walked down the Kaituna Valley with a nice little tail wind. After a little mistunderstanding with a bull that was standing on the trail as we walked around a corner, we came to the first creek again. I saw Loki glance back to check on Sarah, and then nod with satisfaction when he saw that she had obviously learned something the previous day, and was plodding right through the water this time. Although I really don’t mean to pick on Sarah, as there were a few other people as well who took the more risky dry route across the rocks, although without falling. Be careful, people, Sarah can tell you why keeping your shoes dry is not really that important…
We reached the cars without any further incidents and played ball for a while before heading home. We have seen some amazing walking again this weekend especially from our little ones – notably, Alice did some great walking as usual, Connor did really well as well, and Abby walked the entire way back down on her own feet on day two! That’s some pretty amazing work for someone who is significantly less than half as tall as me. The older children did a great job again to keep an eye on the little ones and to make up lots of games along the way and around the hut. Also, of course, great work of all the adults with creating a relaxed no pressure atmosphere and allowing the kids to set their own pace. That’s how you grow strong tramping children – every step they take today out of their own motivation means three more steps they take tomorrow.
This was a great trip again, already looking forward to the next one!
If you are a member of the Christchurch branch of the Trailbabies, click here to see all pictures of this trip!