Monday, July 2, 2007

Mission mountain run

Well what an adventure I had on the weekend, John and I ran the Jumbo-Holdsworth loop in the Tararua Ranges on Sunday in pretty dismal conditions. Tramping websites state that this loop "can be done in a weekend but is best spread over three days" and we ran it in under 4 hours.

The weather forecast was for occasional rain and north westerly winds, but it should have been solid rain and north westerly gales!!! But anyone that knows me would know that I love a challenge and that adverse conditions suit me. We were well prepared for the conditions with emergency blankets, spare polyprops, woollen hats and gloves as well as lots of food and water.

Stage 1: Holdsworth carpark to atiwhakatu hut: The first stage was a nice easy lead in to the run along a flat well graded track. The biggest thing for me here was getting used to my new camelbak! John and I were careful here to dodge the mud and puddles (hmmm if only we knew what was to come and we wouldn't have bothered hehehe).

Stage 2: Atiwhakatu Hut to Jumbo Hut (via rain guage spur): This is where the hard work started, essentially you head straight up from the hut. I uttered halfway up this part of the "run" that I thought I was fit before we started this climb! I was really struggling through this section and I wasn't sure how I was going to complete the whole run. It was a solid 45 minute climb to Jumbo Hut and my body felt like I had been steamrolled. We got to Jumbo Hut and took a well deserved food break. I decided to give my body a bit of a lift and drank a can of V here. For those of you that don't know, I am a caffeine responder and the effect was almost instantaneous, essentially the caffeine gave me the lift I needed and meant that I could carry on. Yay for caffeine! It rocks!

Stage 3: Jumbo Hut to Mt Holdsworth summit: So from Jumbo Hut the climbing continues... only this time we were wearing our woollen hats and gloves as it was here that the weather packed it in. I thought that the last stage was challenging but this next section was way more challenging. We were subjected to (in no particular order):
  • gale force winds whipping rain onto us that felt like thousands of tiny, painful pin pricks;
  • ankle deep mud;
  • ankle deep snow;
  • streams of water along the track;
  • winds so strong that I had to stop and hold on to the reeds to keep from being blown off the track;
  • totally numb hands and legs;
  • extremely challenging terrain i.e. loose rocks/shingle, swamps etc (John must have been a mountain goat in his past life I think).

It sounds horrendous but I totally loved it! what a challenge it was and it is things like this that make us tough! Both John and I took tumbles during this stage. John landed on rocks and I face planted in the middle of a swamp, but landed on soem nice soft reeds. I tried to throw a snow ball at John but its been a while since I have played polo and my aim was way off!

Stage 4: Mt Holdsworth Summit to Powell Hut: we finally got to head downhill (after an abortive attempt to take a photo of us at the summit with the snow in the background). The terrain is still pretty tricky with rocks etc so still reasonably slow going but we were running. Powell Hut was a welcome sight! We tried to light the gas heater once we got there but no luck. I changed out of my sodden polypro into a fresh dry top which was heaven. We ate some more and John had his red bull.

Stage 5: Powell Hut to Holdsworth carpark (via gentle annie track): From here on down it is all down hill, but it is again pretty challenging terrain and you need to keep your wits about you. There are lots of tree roots and loose rocks. But once we started our descent we warmed up pretty quickly.

So 3 hours 50 minutes after we started out we arrived back at the car to..... HOT SOUP AND SWEET TEA from the thermos! What a treat that was and boy did it make us feel fantastic.

We sat in the carpark with our tea and soup and reflected on the run for quite a while! For me it was the longest run I have ever done but it was fantastic experience! Bring on the next mission I say!

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