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November 2020 Issue
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Pigeon Post, November 2020

Our reader of the month wins a pair of Keen Targhee III Mid WP boots worth $319 from

Letter of the month

Light gear is the answer to tramping longer

I am in my 80’s and still enjoying the outdoors. In my distant youth, I was not an ultralight hiker. Post-war Britain did not boast much in the way of hiking gear. My first pack was made from canvas, had no frame and was of the old Bergan style. I could fit a kerosene stove and tin of fuel, an ex-army blanket, a mess kit and a kid’s pup tent plus some food inside. Clothing was worn, no spares. With this, I travelled all over the United Kingdom.

Then came a resurgence of hiking equipment and I bought a Fjallraven expedition pack, down jacket, sleeping bag, survival suit, white gas stove, an Everest Mountain Tent which weighed a tonne on its own plus just about everything bar the kitchen sink. I travelled through Europe and the world, ending up in New Zealand nearly 50 years ago.

Now I have a Macpac Fiord 28 pack, a shaped tarp which, an alcohol stove and cook set, a down sleeping bag, a three-quarter length sleeping mat, a poncho which doubles as a groundsheet, rainwear and emergency shelter. This plus camera, PLB, food and water for four days weighs on average around 5kg.

I am loving it; I am safe, comfortable and still enjoying three seasons out in God’s Own.

Modern ultralight gear is safe and user-friendly if used sensibly and it does not have to cost the earth. At my age, this light pack lets me keep doing what I love the best: experiencing more of New Zealand’s wilderness.

– Tony Stevens

– Tony wins a pair of Keen Targhee III Mid WP boots worth $319 from Readers, send your letter to the editor to win.

Lightweight gear not dangerous

Your correspondent John Walsh comments on people “tramping light” and then relying on others to come to their rescue. He gives examples of people not taking sufficient gear. This is poor planning.

With lightweight tramping, you take the same amount of gear as other trampers. But each item is the lightest available that will do the job properly. This is not cheap, but the result for me is significant.

I carry a lighter pack to enable me to continue to do multi-day tramping but, like John Walsh, I take great care to ensure my comfort and safety.

– Roger Parsons

Lake Dive Hut

News of Lake Dive Hut in Egmont National Park burning down is sad news indeed.

The hut was built at Lake Dive in 1980 to replace an old and smaller hut. With the hut gone and no accommodation there, it will be very difficult for people to use the southern part of the park as trampers walking the Around-the-Mountain Circuit now face a 10-12hr trek to or from Dawson Falls to Waiaua Gorge Hut. The high route along the Brames Track is difficult and can be covered in snow or ice well into spring.

With Lake Dive Hut gone, visitor numbers will likely increase in the already overcrowded northern regions of the park.

DOC has already stated it is not sure whether the hut would be replaced so park users should not hold their breath to see it rebuilt.

– Ian McAlpine

A dangerous precedent

I must admit I was both surprised and concerned that Wilderness would publish the article ‘A trip on the wild side’ that effectively encourages the use of Class A illegal drugs.

I can understand an academic interest in the topic but I think it is best left to other forums to be discussed rather than in a magazine promoting health and well-being through participation in the outdoors.

The article minimises the impact of LSD and gives the impression it can be taken safely with no adverse effects and will increase your enjoyment and performance in the outdoors. It totally ignores the fact that LSD is addictive and needs to be taken in increasing amounts to get the same effect.

Using LSD also encourages experimentation into other substances which are even more dangerous. It encourages illegal activity and with the quote “LSD can increase your reflex time to lightning speed, improve your balance to the point of perfection, increase your concentration until you experience ‘tunnel vision’, and make you impervious to weakness or pain,” will lead to people making poor judgement calls in the outdoors.

There are no gains without trade-offs in terms of physiology, and the use of LSD will result in people overextending themselves beyond their body’s limits and their actual mental acuity which will result in life-threatening outcomes.

– Tim Mora