ITS THE FINAL COUNT DOWN

Less than a month to go! And it’s going to be bonkers!

Last weekend past, I’ve managed to move house, volunteer at a beer festival, and catch up with some friends. All done and dusted with a nasty head cold.

The rest of the month before I leave I have a wedding, some extra work, and tough mudder to run! (Walk – I don’t want to injure myself before I leave!)

I thought moving to Dad’s place, seeing all my hiking gear and belongings in one pile, this would start to feel real. Instead it feels even more like it’s not happening, as if it’s just still an idea floating around in my mind.

BUT I need to get real! I NEED to get my gear all layed out, I NEED to practice pitching my tent, I NEED to sort out my paper maps and trail notes. This last month is going to be a challenge. (And my employment situation…)

I’m pretty confident in my gear, I’m a little concerned about my fitness, about map reading, about resupplies. But I’m very good at winging it, it’s gotten me this far!

I’ve invested some time building map overlays of trail notes and important information. While the paper maps are only my back up. It does mean I’m quite familiar with the route, I already know what towns I can resupply in.

I had planned on sharing the resource I built with the Te Araroa community, but it’s very dependant on my existing knowledge of New Zealand, so I think I’ll sleep easier at night if I keep them to myself. Just in case someone makes an error because of my notes.

25 Days till trail.

Mental Health Foundation

Mental Health Foundation

A big thank you to all those who have donated to my cause so far. Weve still go a long way to go! At $1 per km I’m just passing by Auckland airport! (At least untill the new track updates in Northland get released)

So this post is reaching out to my hospitality friends, and their friends. Owners and managers.

This is an open letter, which I’m going to be spamming out to a bunch of hospo groups and the like.

To whom it may concern!

Kia Ora, my names Dan. And this Summer I’m walking Te Araroa, Cape Reinga to Bluff, 3000kms.
(Sorry not available to cover the bar this summer)
As part of my journey along the country, I’m raising funds and starting conversations about mental illness.

I’ve decided to approach the hospitality industry as its one I know.
Hospitality is an industry where those suffering from mental health often find them selves, with the combination of easy access to alcohol and drugs, long hard hours, and an antisocial schedule. It can be easy to spiral into a pretty bad place.

So with this email, I’m seeking sponsors, donations, and asking management to look out for your team throughout the silly season!
If you would like to contribute to the fundraising,
here’s a link: https://events.mentalhealth.org.nz/fundraisers/dansanson

I’ll also be setting up some charity auctions, if you would like to contribute with something other than a cash donation.

If you’d like to know more about my plans, or have any questions, check out my blog. Or don’t hesitate to message me.

(PS anybody hiring come March 2018 – that would be rad)

Cheers,

Dan

Hopefully there’s a few people out there who would like to contribute so I can stop only bothering my friends!

Thanks for reading.

Dan

Weekend escapism

Weekend escapism

As the year seems to accelerate towards me, hitting this trail consumes my spare time. Reading, researching, generally pondering about gear, the trail, pros and cons, and of course my (lack of) fitness…

So to escape it all this weekend I went hiking! A quick overnight trip to a hut sounded ideal. After a little research, I stumbled across Crosbies hut. The pinnacles lesser know sibling. While all the paths to the pinnacles are knocked out by flooding and damaged tracks, the paths on the other side are all… functional. Nothing like a weekend away in the bush to help re-evaluate what is important.

Early Saturday morning (730am, early by my standards) I hit the road. While there was a forecast of thunderstorms for most of the North Island, I decided to run the risk. Driving in hearing weather warnings made me a little more nervous. Arriving into the town of Thames at about 930am, I received a quick call from one of the DOC rangers at the visitor center double checking if I was still going, and what tracks I’d be using.

After finding a gas canister to replace the one left at home, I made my way to the trailhead. Had a quick chat with a local who was headed into the bush pig hunting, before he vanished into the scrub. I used the Karaka tramping track to make my way in. The trail was in reasonable shape but doesn’t see a huge amount of use, hence doesn’t sit very high on DOC’s to be maintained list. There was a number of trees down and some substantial slips where the Coromandel’s once gold filled hills had given way.
It was secluded, it was wild, it was beautiful.

I came to the top of the range and could hear the thunder rumbling in the distance, encouraging me forwards. Suddenly the sky darkened and the thunder didn’t sound so far away. I precautionarily donned my rain jacket, only to be pummeled by a deluge of hail moments later. It soon softened to rain and even that didn’t last long as I arrived at the amazing vistas surrounding Crosbies Hut.

The Hut itself is brilliant, just a 10 bunker, has some rainwater and a firebox. It’s a step away from the more traditional DOC hut designs, but it takes full advantage of the location it is in, with windows taking in all the views surrounding it.

I shared the hut this evening with 3 others:
Another Westie – ex-army, hiking and mountaineering his whole life. Full of information and good chats.
Two British teachers – both crazy guys, crazy about the outdoors and living life to the fullest. Lads.
A little bit a whiskey and some candles meant we got to know each other during our short time in the hut as all topics were discussed long after sundown.
The next morning, the others were all headed out the same way they came in, The Waiomu track and kauri grove. This was my back up, but after hearing how good the track is, became my way home too.
I walked out at a very leisurely pace, being the last to leave the hut meant I was alone the whole day. With the rain and mud and wildlife for company.

Making my way back to civilization in the little town of Waiomu – where a pit stop in a cafe was on the cards – before hitchhiking my way back to my car in Thames. A weekend well spent!

Hillary Trail

Hillary Trail

It’s been pretty damp lately, with flooding across Auckland and multiple tropical storms blasting through. (I’m talking about the weather, does that make me old?)
Most recently we were warned of, former cyclone, now the extra-tropical storm, Cook. And so they were shutting workplaces sending people home, cancelling Easter holiday plans. Mine included.

THEN!
Nothing happened.
The storm blew past and my laundry didn’t even blow off the line.

SO! I ignored all the warnings of heavy rain, quickly got some gear together for myself and my girlfriend. Told some people where we were headed (safety first). And off we went into the Waitaks!
I should probably have done this as multiple posts, and it’s pretty long. SO BUCKLE UP KIDS, AND ENJOY THE RIDE

Continue reading “Hillary Trail”

Best foot forward

Best foot forward

I’m feeling successful!

I’ve been sending a string of emails to all sorts of people since January. And theyre slowly generating someresults.

I have been in contact with the Movember foundation, and I’m going to use my journey as an opportunity to work with them, and try raise awareness, and some funds for mens mental health. 
If you pay attention to NZ media at all you would have seen some of the recent attention the topic has had thanks to Jono and Ben, where local celebrity Jono Pryor spoke on live television about losing one of his friends.

It’s not often a topic approached, and nearly never is the message communicated as effectively as a comedian in tears. Read more about it and watch the video here.

I’ve had my own struggles with mental health, and seen the impacts on people very close to me. Making this an issue close to my heart, if you would like to support my cause share the links when they’re ready. I’ll keep it in the sidebar of my blog, and on the associated Facebook page.

On a lighter note. I’ve gotten a little bit of sponsorship​! The awesome guys at Merrell NZ have set me up with a pair of trail runners and a crazy warm lightweight fleece. So far I’m not sure if I like the fleece, because it’s too damn warm! Packs down very compact dries quickly and looks perfect for layering, so it’s more than likely going to get plenty of use through winter.

I’ll go into more detail on a gear post in the near future!

Happy trails!

PS, anybody want to join me over Easter weekend hiking?

Belated updates!

Sorry! I’ve been quite absent from my blog for a little longer than planned!

It’s been a hectic few weeks, and it looks like it’s just going to stay that way a little bit longer…

In the last month, I’ve run a bar at Splore- a music festival for those not in the know. Which was excellent! I got to test some of the equipment I’ve purchased so far! Plus I’m back to university, and I’ve started a new job!

Between assignments, working two jobs temporarily, and all of other life’s mishaps, I’ve neglected all my planning. But it’s all looking good for the future! My new job is Monday-Friday, meaning more weekend getaways, hiking and getting prepared for the big day. Plus its salary work, with 3 months of summer closed! Meaning as long as I can answer my emails, I can do all the work I need to while on the trail, whilst still being paid. (fingers crossed.)

On the equipment side. My tent. It’s quite a bit heavier than most used by thru-hikers, the North Face Talus2, but it was comfortable and watertight, super easy to set up and take down, even in the rain.

My sleeping mat, I bought second hand, a Thermarest Neoair Xtherm, which is pretty much the top rated air mattress ever! And it’s already done the TE Araroa once! Hopefully, it will survive another! Super comfortable, while the reviews mentioned it being a little noisy, I found it wasn’t much of a problem. The biggest issue I had was it was TOO WARM! I’m a rather hot sleeper so I’ll be getting a sleeping bag liner, which for warmer nights will probably be used alone rather than with a bag.

The kind fella I bought the mat from also sold me his hiking poles. Which have seen better days, but I’m sure will last me just fine. I’ve generally gone without quite comfortably but will be glad for them in the more unstable terrain.

I also got to test out my new camera! A slightly older, but very capable mirrorless Sony Nex-3n. While I’m no expert, it ticks all the boxes so far, and I’ll add some of the pictures I snapped to this post later on! – Figured it out! Now i just need to learn how to take half decent photos, and then edit them.

The wet weekend at Splore definitely highlighted my need for a new wet weather jacket, mine was soaked through within minutes of the torrential downpours we suffered. While I would like a Marmot SuperMica, the price tag has me looking elsewhere. $350 is a tough ask when I still have so much equipment left to get.

The other big ticket items on my list –

A PLB, some shoes, and a hut pass. Plus all the little things, good socks etc, will likely add up very quickly!

I’ll do a more in-depth review of my gear once I feel I’ve caught up on life a little more. Plus all the other going ons with the trail!

Catch you on the flip side!