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100 Miles of Istria 2015 Race Report (DNF)

In 2013 I participated in the 100 km race from Buzet to Labin. When I first came across the 100 mile runners which where on the same course than us, I said to myself “never will I attampt an 100 miler on that course”.
However I signed up for the original 100 miles of Istria in Autumn 2014. Training and preparation really went well, I was able to do some ski-mountaineering and because of a really dry February and March there was some decent mountain running possible. I never got so many kilometers and vertical meters so early in the season. Well I never decided to do a 100 mile race before.
So a few days before race day, Anders, Mike (did the 65k) and I where going down to Umag, Croatia. Apartment check in, Bib number collection and grocery shopping. A short run in the afternoon as a kind of heat attaptation. Unfortunately the weather for race weekend was looking more like rain than sun.
After stepping out of the Bus in Labin (where the race started) I noticed a light drizzle and wind which felt cold. Instead of waiting outside for 45 minutes till the race starts I went straight to the restaurant across the square for a cup of tea. Other runners allready in, eating, preparing, checking headlamps and the race course. It was warm inside and the tea tasted really good. I felt calm. Just minutes before the gun went off I sneaked trough the field to get a little closer to the starting line. And off we where. I could not believe how fast others went out at the very beginning of a race that long. I was not too impressed, found a comfortable rhythm and cruised down the first downhill to Rabac. I noticed that it became really warm further down, runners in front stopped and removed their jackets. I jogged along the seafront in Rabac, out of the town and followed the marked course on dirtroads up to the mountains toward the first refreshment station at km17. It got dark, but still enough light to save batteries on the headlamp. I closed the gap between some runners in front by mostly walking uphill.

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As it got completely dark, the fog came in. Really thick fog, making a visibility of maybe 1 meter. Headlamp strong, blinded. Headlamp dim, tired eyes. I played around between those two for most of the time, remembering how technical this terrain actually was. My hopes that the fog is just along the coast where high. I closed up to more runners on the downhill into the first aid station. The fog cleared below a certain elevation.
I just filled my bottles and off I was again, climbing up a dirt road for the next section of single trail. The further up I climbed the more fog appeared again. I caught up to more runners, and after about 25km in, I was right behind Nerea Martinez. I started questioning myself:”Am I too fast”?
No matter what, I felt really great and could go a decent pace without putting too much effort in. The terrain certainly got more technical, sharp rocks in all sizes and heights all over the place, slippery from the dew, hard to see because of the fog. It did not take long till I hit my toes in full motion. From the sharpness of the pain I knew that the rock was hitting the nail hard, I had this before. Refreshment station II came in sight. Not really actually, I just noticed a bunch of headlamps gathered around a few other people. The volunteers wrote my bib number down and offered me refreshments, I filled my bottles again and continued further on the trail towards Poklon. I remembered a really technical stretch in that section from 2013 through the beech forest. Fog, night, slippery terrain and mud did not make it easier this year. My headlamp started blinking as indication I have to change batteries, which I did not immediately of course. I calculated..still more than 6 hours darkness, the first battery did after 4..what should I do If I run out of batteries before daylight? Wait somewhere till darkness disappears? What If it shuts down right now? Will I be able to change the batteries in complete dark? Will I loose orientation and wander around like in a dark room? Of course nothing of my mind made scenarios happend, at the next checkpoint there was enough light to change the battery pack without to hassle.
Rolling down the trail into Poklon was cool, I could see the yellow streetlights around the aid station through the trees and people chatting and cheering. I knew I had some pretty though terrain behind me and also the first 42km under the belt. Still in a good mood without beeing too tired. I had some segments of an orange, filled my bottles with tailwind and water and left after drinking some coke for the first time during this race. I was happy to be on easy rolling forest track where running was possible. The hours went by pretty fast, sections of technical terrain followed by more runable and forest track. Up a mountain and down and up again. At around 06:00 am I arrived in Trstenik (km 73). I remembered the place from 2013, It is a really small place but very cool place with houses built of stones and the refreshment point in a really nice driveway of one of them. I felt a bit tired from the last downhill where I noticed also the burn from a couple of blisters on my toes. I got water, more coke and left towards Buzet (halfway) after chatting with the volunteers for a while. One told my that there where only about 10 100 milers through at this point which was cool and gave me some sort of boost. Daylight broke trough the clouds, I could hear the birds singing from the trees and all in all I felt really good getting new spirits into my head. I stowed the headlamp into my pack and started marching uphill. After a while I saw somebody in front of me, from the dirt on his calfs and moving from left to right I could swear it is a 100 mile runner. Indeed it was Adam Hewey. Again I started asking myself. Am I too fast? But still I felt good without giving all my efforts on the uphill. The downhill into Buzet, which is one of the longest on the course was hard tough. About 1000 meters descent and again very technical trails. Down there my toes hurt from kicking rocks all night long. Not even really in the refreshment station I got allready my dropbag offered from on of the very attentive volounteers. Thanks!

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I really took my time here, thoughts from quitting came into my mind. Do I really want to go for another 85km? What If my toes are getting worse? Why am I doing this? I took of my shoes just sat there for minutes. Runners came in, runners went out. Some looked fresh, some looked tired. My mind said, continue! So I changed socks, got my sore toe taped, put on my trusted Cascadias and out of Buzet I was. After taking a break for about 40 minutes. I knew that the second half was not so technical anymore, also I had just 2000 meters of climbing left at this point. While pausing in Buzet, both Nerea Martinez and Adam Hewey caught up and left the aid station before me. I caught up to Nerea just a couple of kilometers later, Adam nowhere to be seen. The terrain really felt easy after the hard first half. Even with not the freshest legs I was able to run good chunks. Instead of rocks there was mud now, a lot of mud, making shoes really heavy and sticky to the ground. Rivercrossings, a pool of mud, relentless uphills through sections without trail and so on. I arrived in Hum having done roughly 100km now. The rain that started earlier got heavier now. I decided to put on my jacket, which was not the most waterproof of all. Leaving Hum I felt really cold allready, but with less than 10k to the next checkpoint I was in good spirits. Heavy winds and more cold rain, I doubted I could last long out here with no change of clothes and weather that does not look like it is improving soon. I said to myself if it is not getting better in Draguc I have to bail out. I was just shaking all over not beeing able to open my bottles or any wrappers from my supplies anymore. Luckily my brother-in-law and my sister where waiting there, which I did not know before. I got into the car and my race was over. Another time maybe.
Things learned: Adding weight in form of a proper jacket and a change of clothes will pay off in the end!
Thanks to Alen and his crew for setting up 100 miles of Istria!

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Trailrunning in Paklenica (Velebit)

In November 2014 Mike, Andy and myself drove down to Croatia to find some nice trails to run in the Velebit mountains!
We spent two days in NP Paklenica and a third day on Dinara (highest mountain of Croatia) where we had to drive to Knin.
The area offers really everything from deep canyons to running on ridges and through woods, always with a view of the sea.
A highly recommended the area for people who like technical trails.

I have not found a lot of useful maps on the Internet but dont worry, you can buy a very detailed hiking map at the Park entrance!

Our moves on Strava:
http://app.strava.com/activities/223182709
http://app.strava.com/activities/223183508
http://app.strava.com/activities/223183502

 

Großglockner Umrundung

Route: Kaprun-Gleiwitzer Hütte-Fusch-Ferleiten-Trauner Alm-Pfandlscharte-Glockner Haus-Salmhütte-Glorer Hütte-Kals-Dorfertal-Kalser Tauern-Rudoflshütte-Kapruner Törl-Moserboden-Alpincenter Kitzsteinhorn-Krefelderhütte-Maiskogel-Kaprun

Dauer: 3 Tage/ Nettozeit 23 Stunden
Distanz ca 120 Kilometer mit 8000 Höhenmetern im Aufstieg

DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO

 

Nach meiner Besteigung des Großglockners (3798m) im April, waren die heuer lang anhaltenden winterlichen Verhältnisse nun Geschichte und die Wege um Österreich´s höchsten Berg großteils schneefrei. Grund genug, um ein paar Freunde zusammenzutrommeln und um gemeinsam  das mächtige Glocknermassiv in den Hohen Tauern zu umlaufen. Dabei ging es auch gleich um die Machbarkeit der Strecke und dem sammeln von wichtige Daten für den 2015 erstmals stattfindenden Großglockner ULTRA-TRAIL.
Mit einiger Verspätung sind wir um die Mittagszeit, zu viert, vom Salzburger Platz in Kaprun gestartet, mit dem vorhaben noch heute es bis zur Glorerhütte oberhalb von Kals zu schaffen. Schon nach nur 1,5 km Asphalt durch den Ort Kaprun steigen wir bereits in einen anfangs breiter verlaufenden Forstweg und kurz darauf später in den Singletrail (Arnoweg) Richtung Gleiwitzerhütte ein. Nach ca. 7km sind bereits fast 1000 Höhenmeter geschafft, so kann es weitergehen. Das Wetter scheint vielversprechend, ebenso hoch ist unsere Motivation. Weit oben am Berg blicken wir oft zurück nach Kaprun und das dahinter liegende Zell am See. Der Ausblick nach allen Seiten ist einfach nur Traumhaft und lässt keine Wünsche offen. Über der Baumgrenze geht es auf rasanten trails zur Gleiwitzer Hütte. Oberhalb der Hütte konzentriere ich mich zu sehr auf das Filmen während des Laufens, übersehe dadurch einen Stein und stürze. Das ist mir  noch nie passiert. Ich finde mich am Boden liegend wieder. Ich begutachte kurz meine rechte Handfläche und den rechten Unterschenkel und warte eigentlich nur darauf bis das Blut zu rinnen beginnt. Weiß aber das es bis auf eine Schürfwunde nichts grobes ist. Die Kamera hat es auch überstanden. Es kann weitergehen.
Bei der Hütte legen wir eine kurze Rast ein um die Füße für den langen downhill hinunter nach Fusch kurz ausrasten zu können. Wir laufen recht zügig die in Serpentinen hinunter. Ich denke nicht mehr an meinen Sturz und konzentriere mich voll auf das Laufen. Leider kommt kurz oberhalb von Fusch auch Harry zu Sturz. Anfangs lässt er sich nichts anmerken, beschließt aber es in Fusch bleiben zu lassen. Hinsichtlich der noch langen Strecke ist das sicher die richtige Entscheidung um keine gröbere Verletzung zu riskieren. Nun waren wir nur noch drei. Von Fusch aus verläuft der Weg recht einfach und nur leicht ansteigend in Richtung Ferleiten. Einmal nehmen wir eine falsche Abbiegung und suchen uns dann querfeldein über eine große Weidefläche zurück zum richtigen Weg. Es ist sehr heiß geworden und der Schweiß fließt in Strömen. Schön das es in sehr regelmäßigen Abständen Bäche direkt am Weg gibt.
In der Ferne ist bereits die Pfandlscharte zu erkennen, hier überquert man auf 2600m Seehöhe den Alpenhauptkamm! Insgeheim weiß ich jetzt schon das wir unser Ziel die Glorerhütte nicht mehr erreichen werden. Es ist schon recht spät geworden und das Wetter scheint schlechter zu werden, regen setzt ein. Kurz vor der Trauneralm kommt uns ein alter VW Bus entgegen. Die Lenkerin kurbelt das Fenster hinunter und will wissen wo wir heute noch hinwollen. Wir erzählen ihr kurz von unserem Vorhaben. Sie rät uns auf Grund der Gegebenheiten davon ab und bietet uns einen Schlafplatz im Wirtschaftsgebäude der Alm an. Sie kommt zwar heute nicht mehr zurück aber es ist offen und zu Essen gibt es in der Küche auch genug. Wir sollen uns einfach bedienen. Kurz überlegen wir noch vielleicht doch noch die Scharte in Angriff zu nehmen und zumindest noch aufs Glocknerhaus zu laufen. Der stärker werdende Regen und die müden Beine helfen bei der Entscheidung und wir beschließen auf der Alm zu bleiben. Gute Entscheidung!
Schnell die Laufsachen in trockene Kleidung gewechselt und ab in die Küche, wir finden alles was wir brauchen.
Bereits um 04:00 Uhr leutet der Wecker am nächsten Morgen. Nach dem Frühstück, Joel schmeißt tatsächlich ein paar Eier in die Pfanne, machen wir uns um 05:00 auf den Weg. Zuerst steht die Überquerung der Pfandlscharte am Programm. Relativ zügig und gut ausgerastet bewältigen wir den steilen Anstieg. Die letzten paar hundert Meter auf einem sehr breiten Altschneefeld. Viele Menschen sind hier heuer noch nicht drübergekommen. Auf der anderen Seite genießen wir kurz das Panorama mit seinen Gebirgsseen. Weiter geht es im downhill zum Glocknerhaus. Hier gibt es ein zweites Frühstück ;)
All zu lange bleiben wir nicht, denn heute wollen wir die Zeit von gestern wieder gut machen und bis zur Rudolfshütte kommen. Wir laufen hinunter zu den Stauseen und haben besten Blick auf die Pasterze sowie auf den kommenden Anstieg. Das Wetter scheint echt optimal zu sein. Wir ahnen nicht das bereits hinter dem nächsten Kamm bereits der Nebel auf uns wartet. Zügig lassen wir die Salm- und Glorerhütte hinter uns begeben uns am Wiener Höhenweg Richtung Peischlachtörl und in den langen downhill nach Kals. Lustige Wanderer Rufen uns irgendwas  mit “ironman” zu. Whaaaaat? Was auch immer, es gilt sich in der schwierigen Passage auf den Weg zu konzentrieren. In Kals angekommen ist es Zeit für ein Mittagessen. Im örtlichen Gasthof kehren wir hungrig ein. Den letzten Teil der Route durch das wunderschöne Dorfertal und über den Kalser Tauern schätzen wir auf ca 20 Kilometer ein. Mehr als genug Zeit um noch vor der Dämmerung auf der Rudolfshütte anzukommen für die wir bereits im Vorhinein ein nettes Zimmer reserviert haben. Am Himmel wird es immer düsterer und der erste Regenschauer lässt nicht lange auf sich warten. Die Temperaturen bleiben aber recht angenehm und solange ich in Bewegung bin verzichte ich auf die Regenjacke. Schnell ist der Pass erreicht und die Rudolfshütte in greifbarer Nähe. Nördlich vom Kalser Tauern wieder bestes Wetter!
Wir checken ein, duschen und machen uns auf den Weg zum Abendessen, das Berghotel lässt ansich keine Wünsche offen! Für den SPA-Bereich sind wir dann allerdings doch zu müde. Noch ein Bierchen und ein paar Fotos von der Kamera gesichtet und ab geht es ins Bett. Die nächste Etappe ist zwar eine der kürzesten aber nicht weniger schwierig. Vorallem der Aufstieg zum Alpincenter Kitzsteinhorn ist nicht ungefährlich und verlang volle Konzentration. Im Rennen nicht durchführbar, ist unser gemeinsamer Entschluss. Auf der Krefelderhütte genemigen wir uns noch Apfelstrudel mit Vanillesauce mit Kaffee, bevor es in einem sehr langen downhill über den Enzinger-Weg zurück nach Kaprun geht. An diesem Tag haben wir rund 3000 Höhenmeter allein im Abstieg bewältigt. Das Gefühl zu wissen es geschafft zu haben ist ein sehr schönes, die letzten Meter entlang der Sommerrodelbahn bringen uns zurück in die Zivilisation. Es war wie immer eine große Freude, danke and Mike und Joel!

Video (HD empfohlen):

 

 

 

The North West Circuit , Stewart Island NZ

 

Quitting the hike on the North Island gave me some extra time to explore other parts of the country. So I went to Stewart Island, 30 km away from Bluff on the southern tip of New Zealand.
I arrived in Oban , the one and only  settlement with a population of about 400 people located in Halfmoon Bay. After a quick walk around town and I bought some last minute supplies at the small 4 square Supermarket I walked up to the Department of Conservation office to check the forecast and ask the locals about the current track conditions.
The North West Circuit is known as a rugged backcountry hike with trails consisting of knee deep mud, roots and sand. Experienced hikers would need 9-12 days to complete the 125 km loop  without the possibility to restock on food along the way. The weather can change very quickly but with an amazing hut system along the way, it is not a problem to hide from the weather.
The Madame in the DOC office asked if I have enough supplies for 12 days in that tiny pack I had with me. She also asked about other hikes I did to get to know of my hiking experiences. I mentioned that I just finished my hike across the South Island yesterday but she made the impression on me that the so called TE ARAROA was new to her. However I told her that my plan is to hike the circuit in 6 days and that I am capable of hiking 30 km a day no matter what terrain. I knew that there will be no bush whacking out there as long as I stick to the marked route.
I started from Oban in the late afternoon and made it to Bungaree Hut where other hikers and fishermen where staying already. Hunters at the huts love to feed hikers, they offered  fresh fish to everyone. Every hut on the circuit is in an really unique place. The downer on this is just you can not enjoy the scenery from the outside of the hut because the sandflies are just too furious out there.
Only at Big Hellfire Hut I noticed that the flies are not too bad so I could spend the evening in the sand dunes which are reaching high into the hills. If you like to spend more time on the STI I would recommend to plan an extra day at Mason Bay Hut. This one is the biggest on the Circuit located in the south west above Doughboy Bay. It is not far from the beach and offers a lot of day hiking possibilities like exploring the huge dune systems.  It is also possible to take a water taxi from Oban to Freshwater Hut and take an easy walk from there to Mason Bay.
If you wish to extend your hike you should consider linking the NWC with the SWC which connects at Mason Bay. This will add about 3 more days to the journey.
What I really liked about the NWC was its diversity. Thick rain forests, steep ups & downs, dunes, endless beaches, quick changing weather, wildlife mixed with amazing sunsets made this journey to something really remarkable.

How to get there:
I stayed at the Hostel in Invercargill and booked a ferry including a transfer shuttle from Invercargill to Bluff.
If you are tending to get seasick easily take a flight. The sea can be very rough even on a sunny day.

Supplies:
Get your supplies from the large Supermarkets in Invercargill, the 4 square in Oban is ok to resupply but more expensive.

Gear:
Leave your tent, air mattresses, etc.. at the hostel you don’t need it if you are planning on staying in the huts which I would recommend.
I carried 4 kg of gear on the NW Circuit.

Footwear:
I was fine with trail running shoes, just make sure you have them tied to your foot so you don’t loose them in the mud.It is a very wet hike, after the first day you will never have dry feet again.
Not even with hiking boots and gaiters. They will just add extra weight when they are wet.
Don’t fear the mud, just walk through it. You will have the possibility to wash of your feet and gear at the end of every day at the hut.I loved my flip flops for the hut stays. You don’t want to wear your soaked footwear while preparing your dinner.

Kiwi Spotting:
I never looked for them, they just came on the trail mostly in the mornings. I spotted about 5 Kiwis in 6 days.
There are people getting up in the middle of the night trying to see kiwis and never saw one.

 

 

 

 

 

Te Araroa South Island Part IV: Wanaka to Bluff (The End)

Wanaka is a cool town, I think I would call it my favorite town along the Te Araroa. Even I did just spend one night there, as in most other towns during the hike.
I left the town on the same cycle trail I came from the day before towards the Motatapu Track which leads the way to Arrowtown. After the first day on the Motatapu Track I met another hiker at the hut I stayed for the night. Gerald from Germany. He hiked the North Island too and was on the trail for about 3 months. We had a lot to talk about and decided to hike together for the next stretch. Our hiking paces matched pretty good and so we ended up walking all the way to Bluff together which took us about 14 days.
In Queenstown we met  Michelle and Tim, who are friends of Gerald. We walked the Rees-Dart Track for 4 days together. The Rees-Dart Track was a real highlight and I am glad I decided to take a break from the TA to do it with them. We took it really easy so I could mix in some trail running  in the afternoons. Tim and Michelle dropped us off at the Greenstone Trail Head after we finished the Rees-Dart so Gerald and I could continue on our journey to Bluff.

The last two weeks on the route where nice hiking and a good mixture of alpine terrain, rain forests, dirt roads, farmlands and finally coastal walks. It was a really good feeling to see the ocean again out of Longwood Forest. We knew the end is near and that we where ready for it and finish the hike. The last 25km out of Invercargill where mentally tough. I did not hitchhike anywhere else on the South Island so I just got it done as fast as possible in walking pace. Also it would have been wrong to leave Gerald on this final part of his hike.
After arriving at the yellow signpost in Bluff, we took our finishing pictures and hitched a ride back to Invercargill. The next day I left for another week of hiking on Stewart Island.

I think I still need more time to sort my thoughts about this trip. I have seen a lot and went through many different mental stages during my time in New Zealand. There will be an additional entry about that and I am also working on a walking guide for the South Island right now. I hope I can finish it during the summer.

 

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Snow on the peaks over Motatapu Track

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Hiking into the Rees Valey, Rees-Dart Track

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Towards Rees Saddle

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Back on the TA, sunrise at Mavora Lakes

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Long day on gravel roads towards Te Anau

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Beachwalk after Colac Bay

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The signpost at Bluff, the official southern terminus of the Te Araroa.

Te Araroa South Island: Part III Arthurs Pass to Wanaka

 

This stretch was dominated by wide braided river valleys like the Rakaia and the Rangitata River and high tussock country. As the Rakaia River is a natural break in the continuum of the route  I hitched around it making a resupply stop in Christchurch where also my bounce box with new shoes was waiting. From Christchurch I booked a shuttle back to Methven where the bus driver gave me a lift to the Rakaia River Camp where I started walking again. I had no luck with getting a ride to the trailhead so I had to walk 35 km extra along the Rakaia River on mostly gravel road to get me back to the route. The walk was quite ok even with 8 days of food in my frameless pack.
When I arrived at the Rangitata River a couple of days later, the weather looked not too promising to make the crossing. A very strong storm and incoming rain made me turn back soon from the very wide riverbed. The storm was so strong that I could see sand swirling 40 meters high in the air from a far distance. It rained over night but the next morning it looked clear again and the storm was gone. The rainfall increased the water level in the river quite a bit but I did not want to spend another day so I gave it a try. When I saw the river for the first time the crossing looked impossible at the first sign. I did not even know how many arms I would have to cross. If this arm is just a small one I can not make it across the main one. I searched upstream and tried it at various spots. Stepping in, making one step after another upstream, figured out that the flow is too strong and walking back out of the river. Further upstream I finally made it with the water coming up over my hips. I stayed focused and pushed my body weight strong against the current.
On the other side the wind was stronger again and I was happy to enter the smaller valleys of the Two Thumbs Range which is leading me to Lake Tekapo and further into Twizel where I stopped for my birthday.

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The river valley leading up to high tussock country

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Sandfly bites

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Easy living, lunch break in the shade

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This picture indicates the water level at the Rangitata River crossing, not the fear of crossing it on my own

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Rangitata River

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Into the Two Thumbs Range

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Where the tall grasses wave

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Morning view out of the Stone Hut window

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Breakfast with a view over Mt. Cook NP

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Approaching the saddle

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Ridge Walk with Lake Tekapo in the distance

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Camp Stream Hut

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Sunrise after a very stormy night at Pines Camp

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Birthday Celebrations in Twizel

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There where not a lot possibilities to built a fire on the trail, recommended camp spot after Lake Ohau

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Devil in the flames

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A start into another beautiful day of walking

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See the marker pointing to the left?

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Lake Hawea, Mt Aspiring in the back

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Trail out of Wanaka

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Te Araroa South Island: Part II Ship Cove to Arthurs Pass

After the letdown on the North Island I walked the South Island from end to end covering 1395 km in 42 days.
I took the ferry from Wellington across the Cook Strait and the watertaxi from Picton which brought me to the Start of the TA at Ship Cove. The Queen Charlotte Track which is part of the nine “Great Walks” New Zealand has to offer starts right at the Cook Monument.

The South Island was a challenging but very beautiful hike, most of the route did not follow a real trail, thats what it makes it difficult in places. Most of the time it just follows a riverbed or climbs up or down direct routes to saddles and mountainpasses. Routefinding itself was not very difficult because of the markings along the way. I enjoyed staying in the backcountry huts which are very simple equipped with bunk beds. The first hut is lays in the Richmond Ranges is followed by many more  almost all the way to Riverton. I was happy to carry just a lightweight pyramid tarp which I pitched not very often. Most of the days where very fine wheather wise. As far as I can remember heavy rain hit me just once, light snowfall too, but just for a few hours. The route itself its almost just for TA hikers as most of the tourists stay at the Great Walks or go on individual planned hikes.
The Richmond Range was one of the highlights for me. It is known of one of the longest stretches on the route without contact to civilization. It stretches from Havelock to St. Arnaud the southern end. Most hikers plan 8-10 days for the traverse. I took advantage of the good weather and put in some longer days so I made it through in 5.5 days. It leads through dense Rainforest’s, beech forests, many river crossings and wades, up to ridges and to the top of Mt. Rintoul. The Red Hills area where a reminder of the desert in southern California just with the little difference that there are no rattlesnakes or not even lizards around.

Nelson Lakes National Park is a little more travelled so the huts are a bit larger. However still far from crowded.
The national park offers many beautiful places and the track follows rivers for most of the time. Waiau Pass above Lake Constance is the highest point along the route. The alpine area is followed by wide open grassland which gave me a hard time because of hay fever.

I think my favorite part was the Mingha/Deception route over Goat Pass and down to Arthurs Pass, a small alpine village. With a big day before to get me in a better position to do the route in one day I hiked from Morrison Footbridge to the Highway in 10 hours. The way up to Goat Pass follows the riverbed almost the whole time involving countless river crossings.

 

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Ship Cove, start of the South Island via the Queen Charlotte Track

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Marlborough Sounds, Queen Charlotte Track

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Livin la vida hikertrash

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Roadwalk out of Havelock

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Starveal Hut, Richmond Range

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Beautiful Beech Forests along the way

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Mt. Rintoul, Richmond Range

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Nice Trail!

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Another Hut

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Nelson Lakes NP

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Blue Lake was indeed very Blue.

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Lake Constance above Blue Lake

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Danish hiker Kasper Dean approaching Waiau Pass

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Coffee Time!

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Another Boulderfield towards Caroline Bivy

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Hayfever paradise

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Simply breakfast time at Ann Hut

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A warming fire at a hut

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Hurunui Hut No.3, a long day of hiking is waiting for me

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Harpers Pass Bivy. I crashed my head so hard at the door that I had to sit down for several minutes

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Selfportrait in front of Harpers

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Another funny trail marker

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Down the valley it goes

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Deception Valley

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The Route followed the riverbed up to the pass

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View from Goat Pass Hut

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The Valley I came from on the Mingha Route

 

Te Araroa North Island (abandoned after 300km)

The TA has probably the most amazing northern terminus of any long distance hike that I know of.
Cape Reinga is an truly unique place, no doubt about that. Lets start at the beginning.
After arriving in Auckland I had two days in the city to sort things out. My plan was going to Kaitaia via Bus and hitchhike to the Cape.
So this is what I did. With 6 days worth of food to get me to Kerikeri, my first resupply point, I stood at the roadside towards a sign which says “Cape Reinga 110km” with my thumb out. No luck there so I decided to walk a little further along the highway. All in all it took me six hours and five rides to make it to the Cape just before dawn. An amazing light setting awaited me. The people who gave me a lift wished me good luck and off I was. I took some obligatory starting pictures and soon I found myself on the Cape Reinga Coastal walkway, which is part of the Route called Te Araroa.
The TA is in fact not a trail, it is far from finished, and I think in most parts it never will be a connective trail system which thruhikers know for example such as the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail in the US.
The coastal walkway took me down to the empty beach, Cape Maria von Diemen in the distance. Quite enthusiastic about being here after all, I did not investigate to look at my maps and made an wrong turn early. There was a clear Route marked with orange triangles pointing me to the left which made sense because one have to get around the Cape Maria von Diemen somehow. So I just took that one without looking If that’s the right way. I realized my mistake when I first saw the highway which I just came from per car. Map out, soon it was clear that I was on a loop trail which should connect to Twilight Beach later. So what I did was reconnecting the TA at Twilight Beach the next morning. I camped out on some farmland, pitching my tarp in the dark.

I decided to get up early because the loop trail added some extra km to my trip. The sand dunes before Twilight beach just looked amazing in the rising sun. Soon I found the entry to the beach and on the right way down south.
The fun started on so called 90 mile beach at the top of a staircase named Scotts Point. I underestimated the sun a bit and got quite sunburned soon. It did not take long and I found myself wearing my long sleeve and a silk sleeping bag liner around my legs. The water came from streams entering the Tasman Sea which was roaring constantly to my right side.
After 70 Kilometers walked I made a stop at Hukatere Lodge which is located just behind the Dunes on 90 Mile Beach. Gabi the owner was very kind and invited me for lunch and handed my a beer without asking for it. She recognized my sunburn and got me some Aloe Vera from the plant outside the lodge. This was exactly what I needed. Gabi asked me for some pictures of the lodge for her new website which I took for a free night. My first photo assignment in NZ.
I left Hukatere early, my plan was to walk the remaining 30k on the beach and make it deep into Herekino Forest. The first section of rainforest on my trip. I was happy to get off the beach in Ahipara, a small settlement at the end. I took off my shoes which where full of sand and emptied them . Some refreshment from the convenient store and off I was to the first section of paved road which took my to the Forest. On the way two cars where stopping and offering me a ride which of course I have not taken, because of my plan to thruhike. I did not like the roadwalking from the first minute but I tried to accept it as a part of the journey. Happy I was when I saw my first green and yellow DOC (Department of Conservation) sign saying “Herekino Forest”. I was so happy to be away from the road and ready to take the climb on the first hill. The forest was very dense, quiet, green and not so muddy at all. It has been dry I have heared. The Track was well defined and clearly marked. I just looked at my GPS occasionally to make sure I was right. Another wrong turn was not an option. I called it a day on the highest point of the forest where a small spot was cleared out  for camping. There was no water to be found. My first 50k day on the TA. Another to follow.
The next day I walked all the way out of Herekino Forest to the  second rain forest, Raetea. Between the Herekino and Raetea more road walking awaited me. First on gravel than pavement. The gravel road was used by logging trucks heavily. Those big trucks where going very fast with there load so every time a truck went past me all was covered in dust. I had my bandana handy to cover my mouth and nose and held my hands in front of my eyes to avoid getting hit by flying gravel. Think I do not have to mention that I was happy to get off that gravel road.
Raetea Forstest was kind of the same as Herekino, just markers where not so well along the route and water was not to be found. I entered farmland at the end of the forest where I called it a day again after another 50k of walking. I found water there and pitched my tarp in the dark again in a spot where I hoped the cows (or someone else) are not going to visit me during the night.
Another morning, another road walk,another 50k day. This was leading me to a nice section of river walking. The trail literally follows a river for hours, occasionally there was a trail up in the forest which sidled along the hillside on a very narrow thread. So walking in the river was much easier than taking the trail. Swimming holes along the route made it even more pleasant. So long I have not seen another hiker. Most people start way earlier than January. On that day I made it to a DOC campsite where I knew there was water and camping not a crime.
The next days went over farmland and more roads leading me into Pahia. At that point I crossed the Island from the west- to the east coast. After Pahia there was the first natural break in the continuum of the route. An Inlet which you can Kajak, hire a water taxi, or road walk. Some people do neither of those and hitchhike those natural breaks.
I took a car ferry for one dollar which brought me to the road where I started the walk around the inlet. A 30k stretch of paved road. This one was leading into another pleasant river walk and to a further stretch of road walking. On that day, having walked another 50k I decided to stop doing that. I kicked an empty beer can from the road into the ditch. I was dissapointed. This can not be it. This is not what I was looking for. I have seen enough private property signs, fences and letterboxes along the way. I stopped somewhere along the road and looked into the maps to figure out where I can bail out. I found an campground about 3km from the main road which I decided to take for the night. The owner asked me what I was doing and I told them about my plans and that I just decided to quit the hike here. However they gave me a couple of beers for free and offered me a ride into Waipu the next day. From Waipu it was easy to catch the Bus back to Auckland.
Soon I forgot about the Te Araroa North Island and instead of hitching around the the better parts, like the Tongariro Crossing or the Tararua Range I decided to go all the way by bus and straight forward to the South Island. I did never regret my decision. That gave me more time to see the other great things far away from the TA which this country has to offer. Later I found out that there are not many thruhikers on that route doing it the purists way. Almost everybody I talked to hitched, flipped, skipped, or whatever. Just one or two claimed to have walked it all. In my opinion the route on the north island is unacceptable.

Continue reading part II here

 

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Preparing supplies for the first stretch to Kerikeri (km220)

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The signpost at Cape Reinga

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Signpost and lighthouse at Cape Reinga, the official start of the Te Araroa North Island

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A look back

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Down the coastal walkway

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Cape Maria von Diemen

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A part of the wrong turn I took

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Scott Point staircase, start of the 90 Mile Beach

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90 Mile Beach

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Stranded whale on 90 Mile Beach

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Hiding from the sun on 90 Mile Beach

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Getting away from the sun, hydrating and relaxing at Hukatere Lodge, 90 Mile Beach

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Finally off the sand

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Into the jungle

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Just one of many road walks

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This should be a trail, walking in the river was much easier and faster

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Out of Kerikeri

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Just before Pahia, after crossing the Island from west to east

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Cook Strait, double exposure from the ferry

 

Te Araroa (New Zealand) thru hike planning and gearlist

I am just a few weeks away till I start a thruhike on New Zealands TE ARAROA wich runs from Cape Reinga (North Island) to Bluff (South Island) covering a distance of approx. 3000 km on foot and small parts with a canoe.
I am looking forward to start from Cape Reinga on January 10th and finishing about 3.5 Month later at Bluff.
Right now I am getting all the gear together and so I thought it might be interesting for aspiring thruhikers to show it here.
The route runs right through a lot of towns and places where a resupply is possible so I am not planning on many food drops along the way.
After completing the 4265 km long journey along the Pacific Crest Trail in ´11 I knew that I want to do more trips of this sort. I thought about going back to hike the Continental Divide Trail as soon as possible. Then I came across New Zealands Te Araroa which sounded a bit more appealing to me. I think it will give me a whole new experience compared to the US and the CDT. I have heared many storys about it, read almost every blog I could find and now it is time to get the picture for myself and see what its like to walk the length of New Zealand.

Trail overview:

North Island: Northland, Auckland, Waikato/King Country, Whanganui, Manawatu, Wellington;
South Island: Nelson/Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago, Southland;

guide_map

 

My main resources for planning on the web are:

http://www.teararoa.org.nz
http://teararoatrail.freeforums.org
https://www.facebook.com/groups/26638669574/
and the great help of Thomas who hiked in 2012

The official Guidebook from Geoff Chapple is nice but not very usefull for the hike itself. It got some nice pictures and overall route descriptions but nothing that really helps while on the trail.

Please note that you must be comfortable with the gear for yourself, just because it works for me should not mean it does work for you. I have used a set up like this in thousands of kilometers hiking in different environments. So should you.

 

GEAR LIST

As expected my gear worked just fine, also in New Zealand. I have seen many hikers hauling way too many stuff on their backs which made them exhausted and slow.

Shell (365g):

rain

Haglöfs OZO Jacket (Gore-Tex paclite) 202g
Montane Minimus Pants (Pertex Quantum) 125g
MLD Waterproof Mitts (Event) 38g

Insulation (357g): 

insul

Fleece Hat 30g
Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket (hooded) 217g
Nike Running Gloves 37g
Sleeping Socks 73g

I forgot the Fleece Hat at home and used a Buff when I had to.

Backpack (730g):

pack

 

MLD Exodus Backpack, 2x hip belt pockets, 2x shoulder strap bottle holders 670g
Exped UL Waterproof Liner 60g

 

Sleeping System(2151g):

sleep

MLD Solo Mid Silnylon with bug netting 510g
MLD Superlight Bivy 219g
TAR NEO AIR S + 6 Segments TAR Z-Rest 440g
Katabatic Gear Sawatch Quilt 650g
Silk Liner 132g
Tyvek Ground Cloth 91g
Trekking Poles 492g
8x Easton Stakes and pole repair 109g

The Katabatic Gear Quilt was too warm in most of the nights. I just used the liner and bivy a lot of times.

Clothing worn(1203g):

worn

Visorcap 49g
Sunglasses 26g
Bandana 31g
Running Shorts with liner 133g
Icebreaker Tech Tlite Shirt 150g Merino 140g
DG Gaiters 34g
1x Running Socks 40g
Brooks Cascadia Trail Shoes 750g

Bounced the Gaiters after 90 Mile Beach.
I added a pair of lightweight flip-flops to my kit. I liked them a lot in hostels, huts and for walking around town. 

Clothing carried(682g):

clothcarr

Buff 37g
Headnet (not pictured) 20g
Ibex Indie Hoody Merino 283g
Icebreaker Merino Tank 150 Merino 100g
Icebreaker Merino Boxershort 54g
Smartwool Merino  pants 150g
1x Running Socks 38g

Never used the Headnet. Sandflies where still bad in places.

Kitchen(433g):

kitchen

Cat Alcohol Stove 7g
Windscreen 33g
MSR Titan Kettle + Lid 125g
Titan Spork 8g
Pot Cozy 27g
2L Platypus 33g
0,7L Plastic Bottle 67g
Sawyer Mini Filter (dry) + backflush + 0,7l squeeze + stucksack 100g
Aqua Mira Drops (Mini Dropper)
Mini Victorynox knife 22g
Mini Bic lighter 11g

I bounced the waterfilter on the South Island and just carried Aqua Mirra Drops. I have hardly used them and drank most of the water without purification.
I replaced my Cat Alcohol Stove and the windscreen with the Monatauk Gnat Gas Stove. I loved the gas stove for beeing able to cook some food a little longer and regulate heat.

First Aid & Hygiene (200g):

firstaid

Duct Tape
TAR Repair Kit
Seam Sealer
Medical Tape
Ibuprofeen
Aspirin
Anti Allergic Pills
Emergency Blanket
Antiseptic Lotion (Mini Dropper)
Deet (Mini Dropper)
Sunscreen
Lipbalm
Feetbalm
Safety Pins

Toothbrush
Dr. Bronners Magic Soap
Mini tooth paste
Dental Floss
Hand Sanitizer (Mini Dropper)
Razor
TP

 I did not bring the emergency blanket nor the handwarmers. Was happy about the pollen medication, hayfever was an issue on the South Island.

Electronics ():

elect

Canon PS S100 + 3 batteries + charger + poutch 309g
Fuji X-E1 + Fujion 18/2 + Fujion 18-55
ND Filter 64
iPhone4 + headphones + charger + poutch 209g
Kindle e-book reader (not pictured) 160g
Spot3 Satellite Messanger (with 4 lithium AAA Batteries and mini biner) (not pictured) 120g
gumPro mobile battery 121g
small USB cord 13g
short powersupply cord 30g
Adapter EU to NZ 7g
SD-Cards + poutch 40g
Card reader 5g
Casio Watch 20g
Petzl e-lite headlamp 29g
Gorilla Pod with Manfrotto Ballhead 350g

 

Like on all the other trips before I got rid of the tripod early and used logs, photobag or rocks instead.
Used a waterproof lightweight photobag from Ortlieb to carry the Fuji Camera. This bag was indeed waterproof.

Navitation:

Maps (from the TA website printed doublesided on A4)
Compass (basic) 35g
iPhone with Topo NZ app and TA waypoints for backup

I hardly used the maps, the GPS App on the phone worked perfect.

Other Stuff (150g): 

Passport
Wallet
Pen + Paper
Waterproof Stuffsacks
Zip Loc bags

 

TOTAL GEAR CARRIED: 5804g
BODY: 1695g

I use a bounce box along the way mostly for maps, shoes,socks, gear replacements, trekking pole tips, toiletries;

Karnischer Höhenweg 403 Trailrun

Im Oktober von Sillian in Osttirol ins Kärntner Nassfeld über den KHW 403.

Tag 1: Sillian Parkplatz Draubrücke – Hochweißensteinhaus

Tag 2: Hochweißensteinhaus – Nassfeld

 

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Equipmentliste (Körper + Rucksack):

Rucksack Salomon Advanced Skin Slab 12
Ultrasphire Hüftgurt
Wasserdichter Packbeutel (Exped UL)
Black Diamond Long Distance Carbon Stöcke
Montane Minimus Jacke
Montane Featherlite pants
Laufhose Lang
Laufhose Kurz
Tshirt Merino + Ärmlinge
Shirt Lang mit Zip und Kragen
2xBuff
Fleece Haube
Handschuhe
2xLaufsocken
1xHüttensocken (etwas dicker)
Hüttenschlafsack Seide
Mountainhardware Daunenjacke Ghost Whisperer
Stirnlampe Petzl Myo + Ersatzbatterien
Handy
Kamera
Gorilla Stativ
Trinkflasche 700ml
Guidebook
Schuhe
Geldbörse (klein)
einen Mike

Zahnbürste kurz (Kinderzahnbürste)
Desinfektionsmittel
TP
Wundverband
Leukotape
Dr. Bronners Magic Soap (auch als Zahnpasta verwendbar)