Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Highs and Lows

In the last week we have been to the bottom of trenches and to the top of mountains.

Dan Clarke came over to Wellington to help a friend dig some paleo-seismic trenches on the Wellington Fault. I am still trying to find a more appropriate job, so I volunteered to help them out for the week.

It was great to get out in the field and actually think about geology for a change. It is quite different to filing documents in the office! We dug two trenches near the coast. When I say we I mean a 12-ton digger dug the trenches while we stood around and watched. The rest of the time we were in the trenches marking different layers, putting up grids and logging what we found. I had never done anything like this before and learned a lot! We also managed to score a couple of free dinners out the whole thing.

The worked wrapped up early so Dan had Saturday free. Helen, Dan and I decided to go for a tramp up Mount Holdsworth. Mount Holdsworth is one of the tallest mountains in the Tararua Mountains north of Wellington. We chose a route that would take us up past a couple of huts and down a steep ridge to the river.

I usually struggle when it comes to walking, which is why I tend to stick to cycling. For some reason, though, I was feeling great. Maybe it was the meat pie I had at the bakery on the way to the trailhead or it was the fact that we gave Dan the food and I had a virtually empty pack? Whatever it was, I was absolutely flying up the mountain. I reached the top first, followed quickly by Helen and Dan. We didn’t stay long at the summit, as it was pretty windy and cold. We had a brief snack and snapped a few pictures of the amazing views before heading down.

Dan with the Wairarapa behind him

Helen and I at the summit

Heading down was a very different story. My knees really struggle on the descents. This time I thought I would try some walking poles. Unfortunately we only have one, but I figured that it was better than nothing. Helen quickly disappeared as I hobbled down with my walking pole. Up or down didn’t seem to bother Dan, he just kept going. He probably would have walked back to Wellington if he had the time. The decent off the ridge was pretty treacherous; the “track” was covered with roots and was ridiculously steep. I think it dropped 1000 metres in just a few kilometres. We all managed to make it down in one piece and back to the car in about six hours.

Helen and I were pretty sore the next day, which we spent house hunting. Not much happening on that front. We found out later that Dan went for another walk – crazy.

I have to say something about the hiking pole. I carried it in my pack on the way up and only really used it on the way down. It was great most of the time and really helped negotiating the steep descent on the ridge. A bizarre side note is that normally my legs would be really sore after such a long walk. My left leg was (is) really sore, but my right leg, which was supported by the walking pole, has hardly been sore at all. Hmmm, maybe I need to get another pole.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Busy Busy Busy

Sorry we haven't been posting much on Blog. It has been almost a month since the last update. We have been very busy. I haven't had time to work on the Blog because I have a temp job right now working for the Office of Treaty Settlements within the Ministry of Justice. Basically I am the random office helper. Not very exciting, but the people are nice and the pay is good. I'll try to get stuff posted a bit more often.

Summers Gone

Well it seems that last weekend was the last of the summer weather. We had several large storms pass through Wellington this week and the temperature has dropped. The weekend started with very windy weather and a bit of drizzle, so we caught up with chores and shopping.

Active Weekend

Well I have to say I am quite proud of our activities last weekend as we managed to spend very little time at home and didn’t use the car once. On Saturday we took the ferry over to Somes/Matiu Island in the middle of the bay and spent an hour and a half walking around the nature reserve hunting for parakeets and skinks – the latter you could hear scampering through the bushes but were somewhat elusive. We continued on the ferry over to Eastbourne/Days Bay on the far side of the bay and met up with a friend, Lisa, from work and her husband to go for a walk in the East Harbour Regional Park for a picnic lunch. The forest was pretty lush with lots of ferns and quite a few orchids. After the walk we spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on Lisa and Pete’s porch in the sun drinking wine and eating cheese and crackers… Can’t think of a better way to spend a summer afternoon.

Sommes Island Light House

The Dominion Post Ferry

View back across to Wellington through the trees

Sunday we rode up to Makara and met up with some girls (one from my work and one from Aaron’s) and went for a girls mountain bike ride. Both Kareen and Katherine were pretty similar in fitness and ability to me – so it was a fun ride and a nice change from riding with the testosterone gang at lunch times….

After our mtn bike ride we headed over to watch the final stage of the Women’s Road Tour of New Zealand, which was a short circuit around the centre of Wellington. It was great to see the race unfold with various break aways and the Peloton reeling them back in. Until one woman (Ina Yoko Teutenberg for T-Mobile) broke away successfully and claimed all the sprints and the stage. There were a lot of Australian, German, U.S., Canadian and New Zealand riders and a couple of other Europeans. Sarah Ulmer (NZ) won the sprint jersey – so the kiwi’s were happy.

Needless to say we collapsed into bed Sunday night.

Karapoti and Friends

Ooops getting a bit behind on the blog. We’ve been a little preoccupied with trying to buy a house through the somewhat dubious New Zealand closed tender process.

The weekend of the 3rd March was the Karapoti Mtn Bike Race. Although we decided not to do it, and the entries were already full for the Classic by the time we even thought about it, several of our mtn biking friends were participating and it was a beautiful day – so we went out to watch the start. This has got to be one of the most cruel starts to a mtn bike race as you start by running through a river so you have to ride the whole way with wet feet (see photo). This year the river was pretty low due to the lack of rain over the last couple of months – but we have heard stories of people wading through up to their waists in previous years. Aaron was excited as there was a category just for single speeds, retro, uni cycles and tandems (the freaks) – not sure which category Aaron would be in if he rode his diamond back single speed? There were no tandems this year – but several uni cycles – nutters! Well feeling all inspired and disappointed that we hadn’t entered the Karapoti Challenge (the shorter, easier version), we headed up to Makara to go for a ride.

Start of the Karapoti (SS class)

A friend of ours, Frances, arrived Saturday evening and we spent most of the rest of the glorious weekend showing her the sights of Wellington, including swimming at the beach on Oriental Bay, which was rather refreshing. We were a bit worried that Frances had the wrong idea of Wellington as it was hot and sunny with no wind – but the wind picked up on Monday and Tuesday, and she got the full Wellington experience as she tried to cycle around the bays.