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.

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