Posted by: Talie Morrison | June 9, 2017

Femur Fun

Hi everyone —  I am just trying to get this info out to everyone as easily as possible.   I have posted a photo album on Facebook also – but here are the photos on my blog.   It has been a LONG couple of weeks – a bit painful, stressful, etc.    But I really am on the road to recovery!    Steve has been here from the beginning –  a real lifesaver – so great to have an advocate and someone who can listen (and remember) what doctors and nurses say.

We have decided that the best decision is for me to go to San Diego (they have all the resources there!) and recover.    So the plan is that we leave tomorrow morning at 8 am (the rehab hospital has been blown away by how much I have accomplished in 3 days!).    We will drive back to San Diego – taking 2 days with lots of breaks, so he can be back at work on Sunday morning.   Needless to say the bone will probably take 6 weeks to heal, and then we will do some sort of local radiation.   Still don’t know where the cells originated, because I got a completely clear CAT scan!  So there are some questions yet to be answered, and some decisions yet to be made down the road, but that just the way life works, eh?

I know you are all concerned, and I welcome your love, prayers, positive comments, etc.   But please try to keep the questions to a minimum.   I just can’t answer the same questions 300 times even if they are the same question!

Wish me luck, and know that all will be well and I’m on the road to recovery and throwing my pack on again soon!

Love,

Talie

PS – I got a SPECTACULAR helicopter transport from Gunnison Hospital to Denver on Sunday May 28th – right over Taylor Reservoir, the Collegiate Range,  Leadville, and coming into Denver over the Flatirons!   I may have been in pain but I sure enjoyed the view!

 

Posted by: Talie Morrison | March 20, 2017

The GODZone Race and more “wanderings”

The GODZone!

 

I heard about The GODZone  adventure race from some friends last December and decided to see if they needed volunteers.   Of course they did, and I signed up to help!

 

For those of you who know about “Adventure Racing”, it is all very hush-hush because the contestants are not supposed to know the course and thus cannot “prepare” or go over the course ahead of time. (I actually did an adventure race near Grand Junction years ago – whew it was tough and it was only 2 days!)   Adventure racing covers multible “venues”, so in the GODZone there would be hiking, backpacking, running, kayaking, and biking.  Pretty fun!  And the race was between 24 February to 4 March (a full week!)  Each team would consist of 4 racers and one had to be female.   There were two classes of teams: the Pure Teams (they could not have any help along the way) and the Pursuit Teams (they had a support crew who could meet them at the transition points – but not anywhere else!).  There were 55 Pure Teams and 15 Pursuit Teams.  Even as a volunteer, there wasn’t much they could tell me before the race – I had a feeling that I would be out on the course somewhere – but didn’t know where or what it would look like.

 

So I showed up on February 23rd and committed myself to “be there” till March 4th.   Even on the 23rd, they couldn’t tell me where I would be stationed, but I did find out that I could drive to my location!   WooHoo! I can take BlueJay (My lovely Toyota Van) and sleep (or take cat naps) in her while working the race!

 

Since I was there on the Thursday before the race, I was asked to help with “Gear Check”.   Now I felt like I was in my element – how many times have I done gear check for races in Crested Butte?   (Lots!) I ended up at the “Jacket Check” – and we inspected every contestant’s rain jacket to be sure it was waterproof and had been seam sealed.   What was awesome about this gear check was that it was at the top of the gondola in Queenstown.   So I got a free trip to the top of the world down here!   After doing gear check and listening to the welcome speeches, one of my new friends and I walked down from the top to the bottom of the gondola – good workout for my knees!

 

That evening I found out where I was to be – first at a spot (P3) where the contestants transitioned from kayaking on the Shotover River to hiking up a gorge (they called it “gorgeering”!). The transition area was a tight trail right up from the river (an amazing spot!).   Then I was transferred to a “beach” along the Lake Wakatipu – TA6.   This was to be my station for 5 days!  The whole course was 406 kilometers (and hard ones at that!)   If you zoom in on this map you can see the distances on each discipline.   And if you know the Queenstown area, you can see that these are not easy routes!

This is the map of the course – Quite the route!

There were 4 of us in charge of that transition point known as TA6.   We would be “on duty” 24 hours a day – so we took turns taking naps.   At our station there were 2 kayaks for each team, plus each team had a box of gear and a mesh bag plus paddle bag with kayak equipment in it. The contestants came into our station after hiking up and over Mt. Creighton at 1870 meters (6135 feet) after starting at 400 meters (1312 feet). And trust me, those were not easy meters to gain and come down again!

 

Luckily they didn’t all show up at our station at the same time – but trickled in at all hours of the day.   Some chose to camp at our location and other teams came in, changed, and were out again in a jiffy.      Every team had to “punch in” with us when they arrived and we noted the time, and then they “punched out” when they left (again we noted the time and relayed it to the race headquarters).

 

At our Transition Area, the contestants changed from their hiking gear into their kayak gear, and took off up Lake Wakatipu till they got to Glenorky and there transitioned onto their mountain bikes for a 110 km (68 mile) mountain bike section (not an easy trail by any means!) They still had another large hiking section and then another long kayak section before the finish.

 

It was nothing short of AMAZING!   I was in awe of these athletes!   They put their bodies through quite a lot and still were smiling!

 

After the last teams came through our transition area (on Wednesday – having started on Saturday), I helped clean up the area and everything was loaded up and carted off.   Then I went to the finish line, and did what I could to help with the jobs there.   And of course, whenever a team came in, we cheered and applauded them heartily!

 

I have come away with some wonderful new Kiwi friends from the race, lots of memories, and had such a wonderful time helping with a “big boys” race!

Since then I had 4 wonderful sunny days to do a backpacking trip up to a remote hut above Mavora Lakes – I didn’t see anyone for 3 of those days (pretty opposite of being in the Queenstown area!)  This season I have actually been to 5 different huts that I had never been to before:   The Rangi Hut (North Island), The Double Hut and Manuka Hut (above Lake Heron, South Island), The Forks Hut and Carries Hut (Mavora Lakes, South Island).   Way fun!

 

Now I am just “wandering” in Southland…   I spent a couple of nights at Monkey Island Beach – lots of walking in the surf and enjoying fresh mussels which I harvested off the rocks!   Life is good and I am still loving New Zealand!

 

Posted by: Talie Morrison | February 13, 2017

From Death Valley to the Queen Charlotte

I know – it’s been a while since I “blogged” – and, as is the case in my life, lots have happened since November 1st!

I left Crested Butte and took about 3 weeks wandering across the desert heading to California.   I went to many of my favorite places (Crystal Geyser, etc) and decided to check out something new:   Death Valley.   I had always pictured, in my mind, a flat hot desert landscape.   Was I ever wrong!   It was beautiful!   Lots of canyons and places to hike – and since it was November, it was not too hot!   I spent 5 nights in the Valley – and had a great time!   Then it was off to LA and flying to New Zealand (with a quick trip to visit Craig, but Steve was out of town).

A couple of short hikes on the North Island – Dianne and I went to the Rangi Hut and visited friends in the Hastings area.   Then she went back to Auckland and I headed to the South Island.  Since the November earthquake, the routes around the South Island are a bit different (the road along the East Coast is totally blocked still).   But I managed to get as far south as Christchurch, and then for Christmas week I wandered up the Rakaia Gorge (another new place for me).   I loved Lake Heron and went out to a couple of huts above the lake – The Double Hut and Manuka Hut.   Then I went toward Arthur’s Pass and hiked up to the Cass Saddle and the Cass Saddle Hut.

I made an appointment to see a chiropractor in Nelson (preventative maintenance), and while I was up there Vinnie (the van) died.   Yikes – that was pretty traumatic!   But pressing on….. in a couple of days, I had managed to get another van (1996 Toyota) and transfer my New Zealand life into those wheels.   So Big Blue Angel is my new rolling home (nicknamed “Blue”).   I hope she will give me a couple of good years!

Then I was off to do a week long volunteer hut warden stint on the Old Ghost Road – it was VERY fun and I hope to do it again next year!   And after that Dianne (what would I do without my Kiwi hiking compatriot) came down and we hiked the Queen Charlotte Track (5 days – but a boat takes your pack from place to place! Yea!)

So – as always, a picture says 1000 words – so without putting down a couple of thousand words, here are my photos!   Enjoy!

 

 

 

Posted by: Talie Morrison | November 2, 2016

Still Going Strong

Ok – it has happened! My book, Still Going Strong, is actually on Amazon! Yahoo!
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https://www.amazon.com/Still-Going-Strong-Backpacking-Adventures/dp/0692776400/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478036805&sr=8-1&keywords=Still+Going+Strong

It has been quite the process.   I have learned a lot and had a great time (mostly). It is currently being converted to Kindle. But you can actually go on Amazon.com and order it! It is quite the emotional kick to see in “out there in the real world”!

I also have a web site associated with the book:

http://still-going-strong.com

In that site, I have created 2 pages for each chapter – one with maps and one with more photos.

In the meantime, I am “on the move” again. I have left Crested Butte (I almost came to tears this time!) and am traveling through the desert. I fly out of LAX to NZ on November 29th.

Posted by: Talie Morrison | October 4, 2016

Crested Butte Summer 2016

This will be another “Photo Blog”, but I just wanted to share some of the beautiful photos from another Crested Butte Summer.

 

I started the summer with my 70th birthday (and my best present of all was to have Craig and Steve come to CB to celebrate!) Since then, I have had back to back housesitting almost all summer here in Crested Butte – so it trimmed my wings a little bit, but I had tons of “doggie walks”!   I did get in two short backpacks:   One to climb Whetsone on June 22 (one of my favorite mountains @ 12,516’ elevation), and another into the Raggeds Wilderness behind the Ruby Range – just to “hang out” (in my hammock of course!)   I also went out to California for 2 weeks the end of August and early September to attend the Black Belt Ceremony for Steve in San Diego, and Teddy and Djamila’s Wedding in Santa Barbara.

 

Now the leaves are almost all on the ground after a short but spectacular fall color display.   It’s a gray windy day and just feels like winter is on the way!   Must be close to time for me to head west and south!   I’ll leave CB before the end of October and I fly to NZ on November 29th.

 

Along with the beautiful photos of Crested Butte summer, I want to let you know that the BOOK (Still Going Strong) is very close to being published! I have been working with Create Space and we are in the final proofs. I have condensed it into stories of my adventures from the last decade (my 60’s – from 2006 to 2016).   So look for another email coming out in the next week or so announcing it!   I am super excited!

 

Enjoy the photos!

 

 

Posted by: Talie Morrison | May 26, 2016

Winding my way back to Crested Butte

After my 4 months in New Zealand, I have taken 2 months to travel from LA to CB!

I arrived in the USA on April 4 and just last night (May 25th) finally got to Crested Butte.

I visited my kids in California (Santa Barbara and San Diego) and visited friends in: Tucson, Scottsdale, Prescott, Escalante, and Ouray.   In between, I camped, hiked and backpacked in the beautiful deserts of Arizona, Utah and Colorado.   I had an awesome time! I love the freedom of living in my truck and I feel very blessed to be able to explore these beautiful places during Springtime! And, of course, photos are the best way to share these travels:

 

I’ll be “in and out” of Crested Butte for the summer – my life is always “a work in progress”! But the big event that is on the horizon, June 5th, is my 70th birthday!   I’ll be celebrating on the night of the 4th with a potluck in the park – so if you are near Crested Butte, come by and join the festivities!

 

 

Posted by: Talie Morrison | April 9, 2016

The rest of the trip …

In early March,  Dianne flew down to the South Island from Auckland.   Grady, Heather, Dianne and I “tramped” around the Greenstone/Caples track.   This track starts at Glenorchy (near Queenstown),  then goes up the Greenstone River, over the McKellar Saddle and then down the Caples River.  The mountains and valleys are really beautiful in this part of the world!   Which I guess is why Queenstown is such a popular tourist destination!

Then Heather and Grady headed up toward the Queen Charlotte track to hike/bike/kayak, while Dianne and I went up the Hope River for a couple of more nights in huts before she flew back to Auckland.

I took the ferry to the North Island (in my little red PahutaCARwa) and planned on doing one more backpack trip – around Mt. Taranaki.   It is a beautiful volcanic mountain on the western side of the North Island,  and a track goes all the way around it on a 4 day trip.   Because it was Easter Weekend, it was really crowded – the Holly Hut had about 70 people at a hut for 36!   People were camped outside in tents, sleeping on the floor in the dining area and on the porch!   I get so used to being in remote huts where I am the only person there – this was a “trip” for me!   Luckily I “scored” a bunk and mattress so I didn’t have to sleep on the floor.   But unfortunately my back “went out” on the way in – and instead of going around the mountain (the next day was an 8.5 hour hike),  I ended up staying in the Holly Hut for 3 nights until my back felt better.  (Bummer – this is not ok with me!)

Then Dianne joined me on the west coast of the North Island and we drove to Lake Taupo and spent a couple of nights at Kinloch (at Pete and Glennis’ bach [holiday home]).   Then it was back up to Auckland, and I spent a couple of days unpacking PahutaCARwa and getting her ready to sell.   Dianne and I spent a day at the Auckland Car Fair  (along with about 2000 other people who wanted to sell cars).   We had a couple of people interested, but no serious buyers.   I felt bad having to leave Dianne with the car;  but, by the time I got to California, she had someone come look at it and sold it! Yea!

Heather and Grady showed up at Dianne’s a couple days after I left, and now “Vinnie” the van (named for “Vincent Van Gough”) is cleaned out and waiting for me till next December!

So back in the USA:  I am doing fine driving on the right again – but I am still turning on my windshield wipers when I want to turn on my blinkers…  (in NZ cars the blinkers and wipers are on the opposite sides of the steering wheel.)   But that is minor to being sure I am on the correct side of the road!  After a couple of days in Santa Barbara, I am now in San Diego (going to the chiropractor to get my back into working order again!)  It’s great to be back in the States, and I miss New Zealand already!

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Talie Morrison | March 1, 2016

Stewart Island Southern Circuit

Heather and Grady went off to do some kayaking and mountain biking, so I decided to put together a quick trip to Stewart Island and finally complete the Southern Circuit.   Remember I bailed on that one during my Christmas Trip in 2014.   I was bummed that I hadn’t completed it – so this was as good a time as any — well on second thought, maybe I should have waited for a month of dry weather — oops, I don’t think that ever happens on Stewart Island!

This is the map from the Stewart Island Brochure

This is the map from the Stewart Island Brochure

I took the Ferry across Foveaux Strait – it was pretty rough and people were grabbing the little white barf bags right and left.   I stood up in the back and watched the horizon and felt pretty good.

I spent a night camping at “Allen’s Wilderness Camp” which was pretty fun.   It was very basic, but there were hooks in the kitchen area (under roof but open air) where I could hang my hammock!

The next day, I took the water taxi to Freshwater Landing and walked to Mason’s Bay.  I noticed more mud on this stretch than I had ever seen before – maybe that was a warning to me of what I was getting myself into!     I had my hammock with me – good thing since Mason’s Bay hut was full.   I hung in the same trees that I was in last year!

The next day started with 2 hours of beach walking till I got into the bush.   Then it was basically 3 days of unbelievable mud!   Whew!   There is thick mud, thin mud, slippery mud, bottomless mud, sauce mud, wide mud, green mud (that’s mud with green plants growing on top – but it still might be a meter deep!), tarn mud, swamp mud,  … the list goes on!   The track went up from Mason’s Bay, across the tops (which were swampy – and yes, muddy!) and down the other side.   The water taxi driver had warned me about this section – he said it was terribly steep and muddy – he was right!

But I finally I gotten to Doughboy Hut – the area that I had really wanted to see.   It was beautiful!  It’s a perfect little bay, with steep mountains coming down on all sides.     I would have loved to see it with blue skies to get the real feel of the hight of the hills, but that was not to be.  There were 4 hunters at the hut, and when 4 other trampers plus me showed up – it was another full hut (there were only 8 bunks).   So even though my pack had been really heavy, I was glad once again that I had my hammock!

To get out of Doughboy Bay, the next morning I had 411 meters (1,348 feet) to climb in 1.5 kilometers (.93 miles) – yes it was straight up!   But it was steep enough that there wasn’t any mud!   Whew!  It gave you the feeling that it was easy since it was not muddy!   Once I completed the climb though, it was swamp across the tops again, and mud down the other side.   No rest for the weary,  once the track was down, it followed the Rakeahua River with more mud!   By the time I got to the Rakeahua Hut, it was raining and windy – are we adding insult to injury here???   I was glad there was an extra bunk inside as my hammock system can be really noisy in the wind!   It rained and blew all night!

My little “hut family” (3 nights all in the same hut) decided it might be best if we stuck together for the first 3.5 kilometers, since it was “prone to flooding”!   Luckily,  we didn’t lose anyone in the mud holes, and we were treated to seeing a Kiwi wandering through the bush.  Finally we reached the South West Arm of Patterson Inlet.   It still was a long wet, muddy, way – but at last Fred’s Hut came into view, and I was relieved that I had gotten there!

All three days of hiking, I was coming in 2 hours over the track times!   It was exhausting because you had to be totally focused on every step!   After the falling over backwards into the mud, I also went in up to my mid-thigh twice.  One time, I really was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get out – there wasn’t anything to “push off” from, and one of my legs was stuck!   Since I am here writing this, obviously I was able to extract myself!

Each night at the huts, I had quite the time washing off all the mud on my legs, gaiters and clothes.   (When I got back to Bluff, I had to wash my pack!)

I had built in an extra day for this trip, in case I ran into swollen streams or really bad rain.   So I thought I would have an extra day at Fred’s Hut recuperating.    But the water taxi was able to get in touch with those of us there, and they asked to come get us a day earlier because there was another big storm on the way!   So instead of going out on Saturday and taking the ferry on Sunday, I came out on Friday and hopped on the Friday afternoon ferry back to Bluff (another “little white bag” crossing!).

Of all the tracks I have done in New Zealand, I usually am up for doing them again.   But I think that the Southern Circuit on Stewart Island will be a ONE time experience!

Posted by: Talie Morrison | February 17, 2016

Photos from New Zealand

I haven’t been very good this year about updating my blog — so here are photos from the last 3 months.   Even though today it is bucketing down rain here in TeAnau, I am still just LOVING New Zealand.   What an awesome country and awesome people.   Every year I love it more!

I’ll be here in New Zealand till April – so more photos and adventures to come!

Posted by: Talie Morrison | December 12, 2015

I’m Back in New Zealand

Once again, here I am in New Zealand!  I am really happy to be back in the “Land of the Kiwi”!

First:  The Trip West

I left Crested Butte, way back on October 1st.   And I now think I have the “world’s record” for traveling from Crested Butte to San Diego:  5 weeks!   Yes – that is the world’s “longest” record!  😀

After spending a week visiting friends in Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs in early October, I decided the fastest way to get from Colorado Springs to Green River, Utah, was over Cottonwood Pass and then over Kebler Pass.   That would take me through Crested Butte and I could stop and get my ballot to vote!   Great Plan!   At the top of Cottonwood Pass, I stopped and got out of GrayJay to stretch my legs.   It was a beautiful morning and the views from Cottonwood are spectacular.   When I got back in GrayJay, I turned the key and …. NOTHING!   Yikes!   How could that be?   I opened the hood and looked at the engine (not that I know much about engines).   Surely it must be the starter – but I don’t have a clue as to what a starter looks like.   So I “blew” on the battery and told it, “Come on now.   You should start.”   Believe it or not, when I got back in the truck and turned the key, it started!   Too funny!   But also it would not be “funny” if I was in the middle of the desert and GrayJay decided not to start.   So I drove straight to my mechanic in Crested Butte and asked if they could replace the starter.   This was about noon on a Friday, so it looked like by the time they got a starter and replaced it, it would be Monday afternoon.   I called my friend, Joni, and asked if I could come stay for the weekend while my truck was in the shop.

So that Monday, I once again left Crested Butte (I did get a chance to vote!) and headed to Green River, Utah.   Part of the reason for planning this extended trip out to California is to give myself time to work on my book!   Yes, I am writing a book.   And I am finding out how much work it is to write a book!   While I was out camping (without any distractions),  I figured I could write on my computer for about 4 hours each morning before the computer battery was drained.  Then I could go to a  coffee shop or something to plug in till the battery was once again fully charged, and head back out into the desert.   It was a great plan and I got tons of work done!

IMG_8438

I camped out for a week at Crystal Geiser in Green River, Utah

Finally, I made it to California.   I visited Steve and family for 4 days, visited my friend, Mary, in Los Angeles for 4 days, and visited Craig and family for 4 days.   I don’t know if anyone can “put up with me” for longer than 4 days! 😜  That took me up to November 15, and that evening I was on my way flying back to New Zealand!

IMG_7718

Gates – My favorite Black Belt Kid!

With Craig and Dakota (and Buddha)

With Craig and Dakota (and Buddha)

 

November in New Zealand

If you will remember, last April when I left New Zealand, I had arranged to purchase another van from a lovely man who was heading back to England.   All the negotiations went smoothly, and while I was back in the USA, I became the owner of two New Zealand vehicles:   my little red “PahutaCARwa” and now a Mitsubishi Van.  While I was negotiating for the new van last year, I told my niece, Heather, that if she and Grady ever wanted to come to New Zealand for an extended time, this would be the year!   If all went well, I would have 2 vehicles.   She and Grady were on – so I asked Dianne if she could arrange storage for both the car and the van.   What would I do without her!!

So now back up to November,  arriving in Auckland, I was able to “meet” my new van.   As I sat in it I realized I needed to make a living space for 2 people, so the first thing I said was, “The seats have to go!”   The only reason to keep the seats in it, would be for resale value if I was selling it to someone other than a traveling tourist.   Probably, I won’t be selling it anyway, and if I did – it could be to another tourist.    So the seats had to go and I wanted to build a bed in the back.

"Vinnie" - the new "Van Gough"

“Vinnie” – the new “Van Gogh”

After asking the neighbor across the road for a ratchet set, the next thing I knew Dianne and I were unbolting the seats.   It was remarkably easier than I had expected!   But the problem was how to get rid of the seats.   We called around, but no one wanted free van seats – so we located a “dump” that would accept them, and off we went to the dump!   The way they charge you for unloading something like this is to weigh your vehicle with the seats in it, and after unloading them, they weigh your vehicle again and charge you for the difference.   No problem.

The seats have to come out!

The seats have to come out!

After being weighed, we were directed the spot where we should unload the seats.   Seats are heavy, but we managed to “wiggle and jiggle” and get them out of the van.   Then, as I looked under the trash we were next to, I spotted a full size piece of ¾ inch plywood with 2×4 supports all around the edge.   PERFECT!  “Can we have that?”   The dump workers were already amused by these two old ladies unloading this van – then they were even more amused that we wanted to take stuff with us.   After uncovering it, we had to set it aside while we went and got the van weighed and paid for dumping the seats.   Then we came back around and loaded the plywood into the van!   A perfect fit!   Wonderful!!

So off we went to Dianne’s son’s house.   He is doing a remodel and has all the tools there!   So out came the piece of wood, we pulled off some of the supports and used an electric grinder to cut off any nails poking through.   Then we took those supports and put them on end to make legs and nailed those on.   Once we put it back in the van, we realized that it really was just a little too long, so back out it came.   Next thing I knew I was using the skill saw to cut off about 16 inches which we turned up and nailed back on for a head board.   Thus separating the bed room from the kitchen!!  😏😳

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Yes – it is PINK!

Back at Dianne’s, after smoothing some of the rough edges, I thought it would be good to give it a coat of paint to protect the wood.   Mixing together left over paint from some of her projects – I ended up with enough paint to cover the whole bed with a good coat of acrylic paint.   But the leftover paint mix turned out to be ….. PINK!   OMG – a pink bed – and is it ever PINK!

Off to the store again, and now to buy a mattress for the bed.   We had the shop trim about 4” off the end of the foam and it fit perfectly.  By this time,  I was pretty psyched to have converted the van and the only expense was the mattress!   By adding sheets and a duvet (cast offs from Dianne and some that came with the van), at least the biggest part of the “Pink” is covered up.  Then I cut up another duvet cover that also came with the van, and, voila:  New Curtains!

Of course the van needs a name:   Which went like this:  Van…. Van Gogh…  Vincent Van Gogh … Vinnie!   😀🚐

Getting to know Vinnie

Of course I thought it only appropriate that I spend a week getting to know “Vinnie”.   So I took off to explore the Coromandel Peninsula.   Dianne wanted to do a bit of a day hike with me – so she took her car and we drove in tandem up into the Hunua Ranges.   We were trying to find the Kohukohunui Track (which we never did find…).  We drove till we had came to a locked gate – and then we just parked and walked up the road looking for the Track.   It is a beautiful forest and we had a lovely couple of hours walking even if we didn’t find the trail we were looking for.   Dianne headed back to Auckland and I decided to camp there at the car park by the locked gate.  This was my first night in my “new van” – and it is perfect!

The next morning there was lots of activity going through the locked gate, so I wandered over to ask the guy unlocking the gate about the track we had been trying to find.   Next thing I knew he asked me if I wanted to spend the day volunteering to cut a trappers line though the bush (and go to a barbecue afterwards).   “Of course”  was my answer!    Thus, there I was traipsing around in the bush again, working alongside other volunteers, cutting back the small trees and bushes.   The reason that this section didn’t have a trappers line on it already was because it was too “steep”.   So that gives you an idea of what the terrain might look like!   I had a great time helping and was rewarded afterwards with a delicious barbecue afterwards!

Cutting track through the bush!

Cutting track through the bush!

From there I spent 5 days wandering around the Coromandel Peninsula, doing lots of beach walks, a few bush walks, and enjoying getting to know Vinnie.   Then I headed back to Auckland.     I cleaned out Vinnie for Heather and Grady (who were arriving on December 6th) and I moved all my gear into PahutaCARwa once again.   It’s a lot smaller than the van, but I am sure I can “make it work” for another summer down here  (if you look closely you can see the “Crested Butte” bumper sticker on the back).

PahutaCARwa

PahutaCARwa

Leaving Auckland, Dianne and I stopped and spent the first night at Kinloch – on the shores of Lake Taupo.   We stayed with Dianne’s cousins, Pete and Glennis,  at their “bach” (holiday house), in Kinloch.   We had a lovely evening catching up and laughing a lot!

The Rhododendron are blooming in Kinloch!

The Rhododendron are blooming in Kinloch!

Then Monday, Dianne and I drove to the Ruahines and the Sunrise Hut trail head.   The trail went up, up, up, but it wasn’t that long, and in 3 hours we were tucked into the cozy hut (in the clouds unfortunately).   Not much of a “sunrise” either day!   But it was fun getting there and being back in a New Zealand hut.   The next day we day hiked over to the next hut (which was not quite so “flash”) called the Maropea Hut.   It was lots of ups and downs along the ridges of the Ruahines.   That evening, we were joined in the Sunrise Hut by Claire and Cane (a Kiwi and an Aussie) and we taught them how to play Farkle.  Way fun!

Start of the hike to the Sunrise Hut

Start of the hike to the Sunrise Hut

The Sunrise Hut

The Sunrise Hut

Cain, Dianne, and Claire at the Sunrise Hut

Cain, Dianne, and Claire at the Sunrise Hut

Coming down from the Sunrise Hut, we drove to the home of Dianne’s friends, Gaye and Bruce.   It was great to get a shower and do laundry after a couple of days of hut living.   The next day Dianne flew from Napier back to Auckland, and I headed South for a ferry crossing on Friday the 4th.

So now I am back on the South Island – YEA!

Heather and Grady are now in New Zealand and traveling around in Vinnie

Heather and Grady's new home!

Heather and Grady’s new home!

Vinnie - with new curtains and ready for action!

Vinnie – with new curtains, pink bed,  and ready for travel!

The South Island …

I’ve been camping along the beach, been to the Mt. Fyffe Hut for a couple of nights (finally got an outstanding sunrise on the second day) – then I took the Spaniard Track down (it was straight down) and my quads are so sore I can hardly walk!   Now I’m visiting with Myles and Margaret in Christchurch – and on Tuesday, Heather and Grady and I will meet up and make our plans for the summer down here!

Overlooking Kaikoura from the Mt. Fyffe Hut

Overlooking Kaikoura from the Mt. Fyffe Hut

On top of Mt Fyffe

On top of Mt Fyffe

Sunrise!

Sunrise!

The Spaniard track goes straight down there!

The Spaniard track goes straight down there – all the way to the river!

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