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November 2012 Issue
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Pigeon Post, November 2012

Letter of the month

Cures for the reluctant partner

How I enjoyed Matthew Pike’s article on Reluctant Partners. I guess we have all been in the outdoors with people who feel as his partner does (did?). If that person is your partner, it is so much more important for The Experiment to succeed.

So Matthew, you might like to know that a lightweight camp shower is available (we got ours at Bivouac). It weighs 150g and we take it on every overnight trip. I feel the same as Laura – I like to wash the sweat and mud off before bed.

It holds three litres which we warm in a billy. We have learnt to shower in three litres, but if your partner needs more, you could be warming subsequent fillings while she is using the first.

It is recommended to find a spot out of the wind, for showering. It’s great for washing hair, too.

Jenny Dunnett, Kaikoura

* Our letter of the month correspondent receives a pair of WK Supershorts worth $149 from Send your letter to the editor for a chance to win.

DOC does its best

I couldn’t believe your correspondent Adam Roys’ letter ‘DOC eysores’ (September 2012).

From a ‘self confessed’ regular track user how could he speak of the ‘obsession’ DOC has with leaving debris out in the bush?

Firstly, and most importantly, the work DOC does to make these tracks accessible can be anything from restoration to health and safety to making sure the public aren’t walking on protected and fragile land.

I also can’t believe that like many other Kiwi’s, Roys complains about a free service that is being provided for us to use.

I think perhaps the reader should move out of his comfort zone and go and see some of the work DOC does backcountry, above 1500m and in places even helicopters struggle to get too.

Perhaps the reader feels DOC staff should be working 24 hours a day so as not to leave behind buckets of gravel and spare planks. I am sure the helicopters can continue through the night.

– Nick Kensington, email

Boardwalk nation

Like your correspondent Adam Roys, I also abhor boardwalks.

Over the past year, the Mangorei Track on the Pouakai Range in Egmont National Park has been converted from a delightfully earthy track to one of toxic boards.

These boards provide a great trap for footwear and eventually become treacherously slippery. Walking on wooden boards is just like walking on concrete.

I now tramp elsewhere on Mt Taranaki to enjoy the natural environment.

– Carol Stewart, email

Post-it notes don’t cut it

The flippant comments from Mountain Safety Council’s Daryl Carpenter (‘DOC’s cost analysis for intentions “sky high”,’ August 2012) to use post-it notes stuck to the fridge or an old envelope are irresponsible, especially when MSC produce a well-designed intentions form.

Typically, ‘Hey Bro, I am off to Lewis Tops with Mark, should be back late arvo Sunday’ sees ‘bro’ invited to a weekend fishing trip and arriving back Monday, meanwhile the note has fallen off the fridge door and the used envelope is convenient for a shopping list or phone numbers.

I suggest the advocates of Adventure Smart as a sole intentions vehicle now have square eyes and shiny butts and need a well-deserved rest. Take a page from the popular TV programme Undercover Boss and join the real world of budget-conscious tourists hitchhiking or sharing a $1000 bomb freedom camping. The only stops are to collect some pasta, salami and cheese before arriving at their next minimal-facility campsite like those found at Kinloch, Glenorchy and Gunns Camp.

– Peter Vella, email 

 TimTam straws the ultimate for reluctant trampers

The family loved Mathew Pike’s write up of his chocolate experiment (‘Reluctant partners’, October 2012).

However, I am astounded that he had never considered taking a friend tramping without chocolate – what had he been thinking?

I can only blame myself for this tragedy, having never done my bit to communicate the longstanding evidence of the tramping/chocolate relationship. As a child, I was always kitted out with a survival kit of sleeping bag, whistle and chocolate. My daughters lay out their clothes, a slab of chocolate and ask ‘Mum what else should I take on the tramp?’ I feel it is only right that I now do my bit. So, if Matthew thinks his findings are transferable to longer and harder tramps, read very carefully: you need more chocolate in increasing proportions to the duration and toughness of the tramp. Dinner must always include dessert and remember supper is hot chocolate and TimTam straws (you suck the chocolate up the TimTam).

No more experiments will be required!

– Diana Austin, Auckland

Milford proposals

On a recent trip to outrageously beautiful Lake Adelaide, just ‘over the hill’ from Milford Sound, we were dismayed at the frequency with which the peace and remoteness of the valley was shattered by low flying helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.

Whilst I wholeheartedly agree with those objecting to the tunnel and monorail proposals on the grounds of missuse of a national park and environmental damage, it seems to me that there has been little discussion of the effect of extra traffic on Milford.

On a busy day, Milford is a noisy and sometimes smelly place, with busses, cars, boats, planes and helicopters coming and going almost continuously. I understand the airstrip often works at or near maximum capacity in these conditions.

So if the purpose of the proposals is to bring in more visitors, this can only degrade the whole experience for everyone.

If the length of the trip from Queenstown deters some visitors, I say bravo!

– Richmond Atkinson, Wellington.

I enjoy reading Wilderness more these days, especially the funny quips relating to our human behaviour. I am also pleased that the magazine is balancing the environmental scales in relation to coverage of the proposed Milford tunnel and Monorail projects (‘Fast lane to Milford’, October 2012).

As small scale dairy farmers we have spent a large un-economic sum of money upgrading our effluent system to come into line with New Zealand’s clean, green environmental friendly image. Environmentalists pushed for this law to come into effect which we support in principal. This is on top of stream fencing we had undertaken 10 years ago.

The law which came into effect from August 1, along with a nutrient cap in relation to fertiliser application and now a resource consent required for an ‘intended difference in land use’ will help clean our streams, rivers and lakes.

I am therefore disgusted in the attitude of Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson and DOC director general Al Morrison to even consider the option of a Milford tunnel and monorail system.

This attitude flies in the face of the land use laws and resource consents farmers are now required to abide by.

– Sharon Boulton, Geraldine

Adventures can be experienced anywhere

Wilderness is great to read with many good articles on amazing tramps along the Southern Alps, in Aspiring, Nelson Lakes and Fiordland national parks. These areas create perfect tramps, with plenty of tops travel, bush bashing up river valleys and summiting mountains or reaching passes; tramps that make your mouth salivate when a possible route is found on a topo map. What makes these tramps so good is due to the South Island’s amazing and diverse environment with so many great tramps less than an hour from any major city. Being a reader from Hamilton I am filled with jealously to read these articles and envy anyone who embarks on one, as our local wilderness is nowhere near as intrepid or diverse as the South Island’s: There are long and boring tracks that wind their way through muddy swamps, up dark river valleys, with no place providing a view, unlike the many hours spent travelling along a ridge with golden tussock and exhilarating views towards tarns and mountains.

However, after reading some articles involving slightly alternative adventures, my mind became much more creative, I now find myself inventing possible adventures everywhere I go. These articles presented me with the realization that I can experience a great tramp or adventure without exploring the South Island’s backcountry.

For example, climbing Mt. Pirongia in the dark, mountain biking along the Waikato River’s river trails and then kayaking down the river itself, or spending a night in the tent, without the help of food or matches.

Now I do not have to dream of having adventures in the South, rather I can do them in my own area. Thankyou Wilderness for opening my mind, I can now make dull times in the wilderness interesting. It is important to remember that an adventure can happen anywhere, but it’s what you do that counts.

-Jack Montgomerie, email