Saturday, September 17, 2016

Warren snuggled up in a light sleeping bag


Getting ready for the TA

 17th September 2016

Two weeks to go and work is finished for six months and will be heading off to start our trek from Cape Reinga to Bluff. This is the exciting and scary bit!

We started thinking about this crazy walk early in 2015 but at that stage we were not certain we could do it.   With my back injury still playing up and not having had any overnight camping experience I was a little cautious. We both enjoy the camper van life style and biking so why did we even think about a 3000km walk?   I think the idea grew on us. We regularly need a challenge and the time was ripe. The trail requires a pretty good level of fitness and stamina and so we thought we better do it while we are still young and fit. :-). Also, it's a fabulous NZ long distance trail that provides an opportunity to see NZ as we have not seen it before so why not?

Over a year ago when we started planning this trek we had four categories that we had to achieve and  they were:
Time
Finance
Equipment
Fitness

Time:
We estimated that the journey would take about five months and so just before Christmas last year I approached my boss and applied for a six month period of leave from work. Lucky for me he agreed and so we planned to do this walk from the beginning of October 2016 until the end of March 2017. Add to that two weeks of annual leave that I will be due and that takes my start date back at work through to mid April 2017. So that's the time taken care of.

Finance:
It's a bit of an exercise figuring out how much it would cost to do something like this. We've not done any long distance hiking and we thought at the start that since we already had packs, tent, sleeping bags etc then we were half way there. Wrong. It didn't take long to realise that the gear we had wasn't going to be suitable and so not only did we need to finance replacement of everything we thought we had, and to buy those things we hadn't realised we needed, we also needed enough coin put away to live off. Hopefully we have achieved that. Only time will tell.

Equipment:
Well the gear we had was not suitable. The packs we had bought about 20 years ago were old, heavy, mouldy and coming apart so to the dumpster they went. Our tent was too heavy as were the sleeping bags. We had never had to carry them further than from the car before. We decided that we needed to go for lightweight quality gear if we were to carry it the whole way and for it to last the distance so over the last year our shopping has been mostly from shops like Kathmandu, Macpac, Bivouac and Hunting & Fishing.  As a means of checking out the gear and doing some overnight camping we started doing weekend trips into the Waitawheta Valley and we also headed south in March 2016 and walked the Heaphy Track. Only my boots failed with blisters forming under the toenails on days 4 and 5.  The roof of the right boot had delaminated and so they also ended up in the dumpster when we got home. We bought a new camera as we decided the SLR's we have are also big and heavy. We bought a Canon SX50 being a smaller lighter camera but with a 50x zoom for those amazing shots that we will be finding. Of course we will also take the GoPro.

Fitness:
Starting during the winter of 2015 I started walking to work to strengthen my back. The Heaphy track tested that and although I found the pack a bit heavy it was manageable. We felt after the Heaphy that if we managed to maintain our fitness level then that would be a good starting level for the TA so over the next 6 months we walked, carried loaded day packs, cycled, exercycled, climbed the Mount and went to the gym. At this stage we are feeling good to go. Again time will tell.

Right from the start we wondered just how to give ourselves the greatest chance of succeeding. There were, and possibly still are, those who think we are mad even attempting such a feat at our ages.  Well, there are two special people who not only thought we were mad but believed that we could be successful. Kath and Peter decided that they would be our support team and follow our journey in their camper van.  They will be our transport around harbours and rivers, carry the gear we don't need for any particular section, be our supply ship and kick our butts when we get grizzly and just want to go home. We think they have significantly increased our chance of getting that final photo at Bluff.

 2 weeks and we're on our way. . . . . !!!