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Back up a Bit

Friday, April 7th, 2006

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OK. I guess I need to catch up a little. We have been super-busy and I have been having all sorts of computer problems. I finally broke down and bought a junker Sony Vaio PictureBook C1VN (my notebook of choice). I tore them both apart and made one super-computer. After a week of tuning, Iím up and running.

So, backing up to when Luci and I left Matteo. Luci went up to the North Island to do Yoga, get massages, and relax on the beach while my brother Jesse and I took off in his rickety Mitsubishi Chariot to the Nelson Lakes and the Kahurangi. When I met up with him back in Christchurch he had a seriously ailing clutch. He was seriously stressing. We decided to call the guy we bought it from only a week before. He runs a backpacker hostel and sells cars on the side. We were hoping that he could point us in the direction of a good (cheap) mechanic. Instead of offering us a good mechanic he offered to have it fixed for us: no charge. I love NZ! With the car fixed we headed out of town to Arthurís Pass. About an hour out of town, the car started pulling to the left. Upon inspection it became obvious that the mechanic had forgotten to tighten the bolt on the ball joint when he was putting it all back together. We managed to tighten it down in a storm of sandflies (NZís premier biting insect) but it left us with an uneasy feeling.

Jesse and I were planning on doing a bit of hut to hut hiking. When I was traveling with Matteo I scoped out a couple of places. The first place we were planning on hiking was a circuit that would take us over Traver’s Saddle. We were traveling with a friend who wasnít much of a hiker and decided to stay behind on the lake shore in the town of St. Arnaud. We arranged to meet up with him two days later. Over the next two days and a half we cranked out the most intense hike I have ever done. The terrain was not that steep and we were able to average 26 miles a day. It was sunrise to sunset hiking. Not much time to smell the roses but we didnít want to miss our meeting time with our friend. We were incredibly sore when we finally met up with Ryan but nothing a couple of days of rest couldnít fix.

Our next stop was in Takaka. A fellow Antarctican was playing his guitar at a local restaurant, the Mussel Inn. Another good friend of mine and Luciís was having a birthday party at his parents in nearby Motueka. The plan was to go to the show in Takaka and hike the Salisbury Track to our friend Bodieís. There is a campsite near the Mussel Inn and it was swamped with Antarcticans. We decided to stay at a campsite on the other side of town near a local climbing spot. It was a pretty unorganized affair called Hang Dog. Super cheap and very relaxing and relatively Antarctican free. Donít get me wrong, I love my co-workers but enough is enough.

The show was fun and after a day on the beach flying my kite (and watching Jesse break my kite) we had Ryan drop us off at the trail head of the Salisbury Track in the Kahurangi. We spent the night there in a small shelter and set out the next day. Once again, this was a track with rather small elevation gain so we were able to make time. There are some very nice huts on this track but our second night we stayed at the most interesting shelter I have ever stayed in. It was made out of a limestone overhang. It was one of four similar shelters. The third night we stayed at a higher elevation on the flanks of Mt. Arthur with the idea of climbing it the next day. In the morning the weather wasnít great so we decided to just hike down and meet our friends. Of course, the weather was better when we got to the trailhead and I insisted on walking all the way to Bodieís.

I had been inspecting my topo map and saw that there was a direct route down a creek that lead directly to our friendís house. The only thing is that there was no trail down it. I went for it anyway and had a wild ride. At one point the stream just disappeared. There is a tremendous network of caves under Mt. Arthur and in places rivers and streams just slip underground. After about a quarter mile I found myself at the top of a 30-foot waterfall with no obvious way down. Lucky for me I had been following a pair of goats who also got cliffed-out and slipped by me to run back up stream. I followed them up an incline and over a little ridge which successfully by-passed the would-be waterfall.

I eventually made it the bottom of Whiskey Creek where it meets up with a river that literally resurges out of Mt Arthur from its network of caves. But, not with out injury. No only did I slice a nice slab out of my hand but I learned about the New Zealand stinging nettles the hard way. I grabbed one to stabilize myself on the steep stream-bed on my descent. I could decide which one hurt most. In the end the nettles won out. When I finally arrive on foot at my friend Bodieís house, his family was happy to see me. When Jesse arrived after being picked up by friends at the trailhead he told Bodie and his parents that I was arriving on foot via Whisky Creek. I think his mother almost fainted. Apparently the last guy that tried the hike down Whiskey Creek didnít make it. They pulled his body out a couple of months before.

Bodieís party was a great success. It was the last hurrah for before heading back to the States. Jesse sold his car to Ryan and we were on a plane back to the States.

About to leave NZ

Monday, March 6th, 2006

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I am just about to check in for my flight back to the US. Jesse and I have been doing some mad hiking over the past couple of weeks together. Luci, out of fear of being trapped in a small car with my brother and I, decided to spend a relaxing couple of weeks on the North Island on the beach. There are a bunch of Antarcticans on the flight back to LAX tonight, including Jesse. Jesse and I are on different flights up to Auckland from Christchurch but we’ll meet up with Luci in Auckland before we board our 13Hr flight to LAX. The good thing is that, on account of the International Date Line, we actually arrive a couple of hours before we left. I think Jesse finally has all his stuff togehter. He has managed to lose both his wallet and camera in the past 12 hrs. Both have been found and I am eager to get out of here before he loses something else.

Travels with Matteo

Friday, February 17th, 2006
IMG_3629.JPG With McMurdo behind us we face the long spring pause between jobs. We are here in NZ for a month from the 3rd of Feb to the 6th of March. Jesse also, coincidently, is ... [Continue reading this entry]

The short version

Monday, May 10th, 2004
Coromandel (19).JPG I know I have been bad about keeping our blog updated. It just got to be too difficult to find an internet place with a card reader. I lost a ... [Continue reading this entry]

Wanaka

Wednesday, March 17th, 2004
Mt. Cook (4).JPG Mt Cook was amazing! We had great weather and did some incredible hiking. The wilderness here in NZ is astounding. We have only been able to scratch ... [Continue reading this entry]

Back in the Vortex

Wednesday, March 10th, 2004
lake.jpg Well, the vortex has sucked us back in. We are back in CHC taking advantage of the free internet at the Antarctic Center and getting car parts. Internet places want $10 to ... [Continue reading this entry]

Vortex

Tuesday, February 24th, 2004
TM.jpg Today has been nice. The surf is good (though I haven't been out yet) and the livin' is easy. We are really enjoying the van. You can park and camp almost anywhere here. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Christchurch

Friday, February 20th, 2004
CHC.JPG The flight went very smoothly and I even slept a little on the plane. We were really packedin and we were seated next to the last group out ... [Continue reading this entry]