Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter in New Zealand

I have yet to meet anyone here, besides my flatmate from Hungary, who is at all religious in any meaningful way.  Of course, I really only know the University crowd, but still.  However, Easter is a big deal.  I think it is simply because people get BOTH Friday and Monday (and in some cases Tuesday, or even a nearly 3 week holiday in the case of parts of the University) off from work/school, and thus marks the big fall holiday.  Still, I find Easter as the focus of a relatively secular population, fascinating.  The lunch talk at work is, "What are you doing for Easter?" and when I went riding with some women a few weeks ago it was also topic of conversation.

I'm headed to Kaikoura tomorrow night to see whales and run a loop that includes a summit of Mt. Fyffe (see runs Mike has listed, it is the first one) on Friday for my "Easter fun."  This will test my new shoes on a scree field. I'll report back (see the post Shoes for pictures of the results of 2 scree fields on the old shoes).  I hope to mountain bike some new trails (for me) in the Port Hills on Saturday or Sunday and maybe prove a theorem or two.  I have some ideas brewing. 

What are you doing for your Easter fun?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Shoe Sacrafice

Tom and I (mostly Tom, but I was a witness to it) now have a history of leaving spent running shoes in foreign countries, in interesting places.  The first time was a pair from each of us, in a hotel in Chile --- not that interesting.

The second time was also in Chile after the Torres del Paine run.  There we hung them on a tree at the start/finish of our run.
The third time was at the end of our Mt. Somers Run.  Perfect time.  The run was beautiful.  Tom's second to last run in New Zealand, the shoes were in terrible shape and sopping wet.  It is a bit tough to see here, but if you look closely you will see a Wanaka Brewery Pilsner in Tom's hand and a dead pair of Roclites hanging from the bridge.  Perfect finish to our excursions. 

P.S. The camera battery had informed us before this that it was dead, but I coaxed this one last picture out of it and it started raining pretty hard again just as I clicked the photo and we ran to the car.  

Mt Somers

We did not circumnavigate Mt. Sommers (short on time and the weather was rather pear shaped --- practicing my kiwi/british), but rather did an amazing loop of the Rhyolite Ridge to Mt. Sommers South face to the Miners trail.

Here I am nearing the top of the Rhyolite Ridge.  You can see the mists.  What the pictures don't show is the phase where we could see clouds pushing into one valley causing all the gorges to steam making new clouds before our eyes. 

Tom posing and then running toward our first big gorge. 

We almost gave up as it was drizzling when we started.  The trail was super wet --- small stream like.  The resulting run was super with a new rock feature, gorge, raging creek around nearly every corner.    
 I tried to get Tom in the panorama below, but even if I did, I don't think you can see him...

 There were many amazing rock features and gorges on our run --- one of which someone has actually labeled as the "bus stop".

The panorama below it an attempt to show some of the amazing features on the run.  We crossed over most of this moving from right to left down to the river valley you see (look closely and you can see a hut --- we passed by) and then back up the ridge on the left to where I am taking the picture. 

On the way out we found lots of abandoned mining equipment (and some signs to go with it), which was fun,  This, of course, explains the name of the trail (miner's trail).


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Procrastination --- Tom's visit Continued

I am officially procrastinating.  Stuck on trying to figure out how to prove I have a complete intersection and waiting for a computation to finish, I thought I would catch up a bit more on Tom's visit to NZ.  The noise from the guys changing out the windows in the house I'm staying in (I have "home" duty today to babysit them) is not helping my focus. 

Tom and I have (wisely, we think) taken to taking pictures of restaurants and hotels we are particularly happy we found.  In Wanaka, we found a pub with great beer --- the Wanaka Breweries Brewski, an excellent pilsner --- and food that is fabulous and not crazy expensive (by NZ standards).

How do we not take a picture of such a great fish.  This is somewhere between Wanaka and Lake Tekapo (bathroom stop).

Then we made a stop at the hot springs pools in Lake Tekapo.  We were happily there all by ourselves --- just missed a Japanese tour group.

Lake Tekapo (below) --- the picture does not do the color of the lake justice.  It is a crazy tourquoise color from the sediments suspended in the water. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

West Matukituki Valley

 At some point I had to admit to Tom that I just like saying Matukituki.  Another rainy day.  I think I mentioned that it had been sunny for almost my entire trip to New Zealand and then we had 2 days of heavy rain and 3 of low clouds and drizzle.  This was another day where we thought about giving up on the planned adventure and then decided to at least drive to the trail head up the Matukituki Valley (yes, I like typing it too).  The drive up the valley alone was worth the trip, including the two sheep herds we ran into. 
 It was fascinating to watch the dogs herding the sheep into this new pen since there was a puddle from all the rain and the sheep have no idea how deep it is.  They absolutely refused to enter the puddle until the dogs pushed the back enough that pressure forced the front into the puddle. 
The dogs pushing
nearly done
A second round of sheep on the road
All done and piled up to go

Tom on the bridge
 We decided to run up the Rob Roy Valley despite the low clouds.  We were rewarded with a swing bridge and views to come. 
Me on the bridge (proves we were in NZ together)

The Rob Roy Glacier

Tom in the glacier river 1
Tom glacier river 2

Tom glacier river 3
Tom glacier river 6

Tom glacier river 4
Tom glacier river 5

Lake Marian

 We were thwarted with our run to Gertrude saddle, so on our way out of Milford Sound we decided that regardless of clouds and weather we would run to Marian Lake.  So glad we did it.  The mountains are still socked in, but the run was good for us and the views were still beautiful. 
Tom Series 1
Tom Series 2
Tom Series 3
Crazy how deep the trail is here.
Lots of warning signs in New Zealand
We are almost done.  Proof we did Lake Marian.

River Series 1

River Series 2
We wanted to make sure you took note of the river!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Milford Sound (really Fjord)

The beginning of the drive to Milford Sound.  The drive is pretty amazing with the craziest tunnel I have ever driven through.  See those clouds?  They are the ones that poured on us when we got to the trail head for the Gertrude valley and saddle --- the biggest run we had planned.  It was socked in and was the one thing rain destroyed for us.  I've been here for more than 6 weeks with sunny days and we had 4 days of rain or drizzle and low clouds in Tom's short visit.  That's weather in New Zealand for you. 

Tom with his finger in the fjord --- a mix of the Tasman Sea and fresh water that tumbles off of the surrounding mountains.    Our first pictures of the sound with Mitre Peak approximately in the center. 

The next morning as the clouds lifted a little we could see the glacier on the right and we headed out to kayak the entire length of the fjord.  As the experience was presented to us, we were both worried about being the weak link.  Lets just say that out of the 3 pairs of tourists we were absolutely not the weak link. 

Jeff the seagull.  Apparently he has been fed enough times by this kayaking group that he appears each morning looking for food. 
We kayaked under that waterfall --- or as much as we could.  While it managed to rain the day before it has actually been really dry in New Zealand and we are told that the waterfalls were quite low.  Still loads of fun.  We saw tons of bright orange star fish and loads of fur seals doing their morning swim and grooming.