Rachael, Tania and I got in another practice hike last weekend with the added bonus of a fireworks display (from a distance) and a entertainment in the form of Rotary Club team-building exercises for idiots.
We caught the afternoon ferry over to Rangitoto, The dominating volcano in Auckland’s harbour and sat around the wharf area waiting for dark. I took the chance for a quick march to the summit and back while the girls settled in to watching the army put some Rotary Club people through their paces. We were near “the Spider’s Web”, a net with 12 holes through which a team of seven must climb without touching the material. Pretty simple yeah? Not so for the team that took 15 minutes to get their first person through. The next team took about 1 minute, but they screwed up by all climbing through the same hole and not helping each other. If the army dudes weren’t all in camo gear and packing some pretty big knives I’d have liked to give some advice to the trainees, but I kept quiet. I got the chance to try on an army pack, boy do they ever need some help with their ergonomics. No waist support at all, there must have been 15kgs+ all on two tiny little shoulder straps, that’s no way to look after your military.
At 8 we tried to watch the Group F performance that was on the mainland, but the fireworks were too low level so we packed up and started to walk. With only two torches between us (d’oh) and very uneven rocky ground the coast track to Islington Bay was hard going. Not physically tiring, but hard work none the less. Emerging in Islington Bay was beautiful. There were dozen of boats floating on glassy water, and the lights made it look like a sleeping village on the hillside. We crossed the causeway to Motutapu and got onto the Motutapu Walkway. The moon was just rising and we did it mostly without the torches. The marker posts aren’t reflective, because this is really targeted as a walk for clear summer days, and it mostly follows fence lines anyways. We had a very surreal moment cresting a hill when two silhouettes ran in front of the moon. Large bird-like bodies, small point heads, two legs and just a little velociraptor like. They were actually just turkeys, but darkness plays tricks and they looked a lot bigger at the time. The walk was really nice and coming down into Home Bay I decided I would take my little brothers there someday.
Walking at night, when it’s clear and after a very warm day, has the definite advantage of being a good temperature for exercise and so we marched on. Back to Rangitoto, this time we took the dirt road to the wharf. We returned to we we’re stashed some bags only to find it now inside the Rotary Club’s camp. Someone heard us approaching and asked the time. It was 3am and they had overslept an hour. Think about that, they were sleeping on some benches, on an island where you’re generally not allowed to camp and we just happened to be walking by to wake them up. They’d have been pretty upset to wake at sunrise anouther 4 hours away. Anyway we continued across to McKenzie Bay on the other side. It was past late now and was becoming early. Good moonlight saw us safely up the track to the summit by about 5:30am where we found the communications post for the army. They’d lost track of two teams and no-one had been up there since 2pm the day before, what a sucky job. It was pretty easy to sleep, with over 22 miles under my feet at that point. I felt very much the part in my new MacPac jacket and polyprop beanie eating muesli with powered milk. Sunrise was as beautiful as expected and we walked gently down to the wharf and went home, exhausted and very tired.

I was carrying a heavy load (15kgs+) for this hike, even though I don’t expect to be up to that distance for a few weeks into the trail. I also carried my datalogger and after running the output through GPSVisualizer.com I have produced a track file for Google Earth and one for viewing online in Google Maps

P.S. Don’t expect anything like this length of entry when I’m hiking. A paragraph or two is all I think I’ll be able to type into my PocketMail each night.