Monday, 16 December 2019

Nelson Lakes Tramping: Lessons And Observations

Overall, we were really lucky with the weather. We arrived just after a big storm, so there was a lot of water in the streams and significant track damage, but we had very little rain in all ten days. On the Travers-Sabine circuit we had excellent conditions the entire time. I'm so grateful for that.

Because of track damage we had to abandon our plans to visit Blue Lake and significantly alter our route and schedule accordingly. It was actually fun to make up plans on the fly; it felt empowering to know we had the supplies to be relatively self-sufficient for several days and could go wherever we wanted within that time. We appreciatead that it's a feature that the huts in the area (apart from Angelus Hut) don't require or allow advance booking.

Apart from the storm-induced damage, the tracks in the area were very well maintained and easier than I expected.

As always, one of the great things about hut tramping is meeting lots of people from all over the world. On the more demanding tracks, we tended to meet people who were in New Zealand for several months (whereas on the Great Walks you often meet people who are only here for a few weeks). I asked a few people how they first got the idea of visiting New Zealand; more than once I heard they simply looked at the map and saw that New Zealand was about as far away as they could go.

On the Travers-Sabine circuit we ate mostly store-bought dehydrated food for dinner, and I simply don't like any brands that we've tried. I need to figure out how to pack and cook for a week-long tramp food that actually tastes good.

As I noted in a previous post, the water quality in the park was excellent, perhaps aided by the earlier storm. We drank untreated water from streams and rivers everywhere with no ill effects. Even standing pools of water were crystal clear.

We play a lot of card games in huts when tramping. This trip we brought playing cards, Citadels, Bang! (with expansions), and San Juan (with expansion). They're good games but they still got a bit boring, so we need to branch out.

Perhaps the most valuable thing we learned on this trip was how our fitness developed. As we walked day after day we experienced competing effects: we got more tired, but we also got fitter. About half-way through the Travers-Sabine circuit was probably the low point; after that, fitness started to win out. As I noted in the previous post, on day five of the circuit we ascended Speargrass valley to Robert Ridge considerably faster than we had done the same track at the start of our trip. At the end of the circuit everyone in our group agreed that we were feeling great and would have been quite happy to continue tramping, time and supplies permitting. That's an encouraging lesson for all of us.

It was great that we got to attend the "Chapel By the Lake" in St Arnaud twice. It seems like a good congregation, and it's always fun and helpful to see how God works in other churches. Thanks!

Overall it was a great holiday and I thoroughly detoxed from computer overexposure. Now I need to get back to work mode!

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