Walk1200km challenge just right
I disagree with Jeremy Cole (Pigeon Post, March 2022) who believes the Walk1200km goal is too short a distance.
While it’s great that he is able to be as active as he is, and has time to walk 100km weekly, this is not the norm for most people. If I can be an example, I live in Auckland, I have a 60-90min return commute every day to work. Between my work, home, and social life, I would consider myself time poor but usually manage a decent day walk once a month, and multi-day walk 3-4 times a year. I would struggle to walk 1200km in a year.
I have now been participating in the Walk1200km challenge for a few months and have contributed some of my own photos and stories to the Facebook group. I feel this is a great initiative for people like me who don’t have the same level of free time that some others have for walking. This group has resulted in a change of mindset for me in that I realised that walking this distance is actually only the equivalent of just over 3km per day – or 30min or so of walking which I can easily manage in my lunch break or after work. I often force myself to go even for just 20min so I don’t get behind with the goal.
I feel if the goal was much higher, I would’ve disregarded the challenge as unachievable.
I would encourage anyone who is in a similar situation to get involved, share their stories and photos and enjoy the supportive atmosphere that the Facebook group has.
– Jeremy Eade
Walk1200km perfect for busy parents
I’m writing to thank you for the Walk1200km challenge. Our family has been enjoying our subscription to Wilderness and the continued monthly motivation to get out there and book in the next hut.
We started the Walk1200km challenge in November with a progress tracker intended for me and the children to track our walking. But it soon became clear that I wanted to do more walking than everyone else and so I started my own personal tracker and have been absolutely loving it.
The wonderful gift that the challenge has given me is the impetus to get up every morning, lace up my shoes and go. I don’t even remember the last day I didn’t get up and walk. I’ve given up coffee because the walks wake me up and I believe our whole family feels the benefits.
The challenge has set off a healthy domino effect for our whole family. We love tramping and hiking and I’ve been more motivated than before to book trips because I’ll be tracking up kilometres. Currently, we have two overnight tramps booked for the months ahead and I intend to keep it that way indefinitely.
I have read comments from others who think it should be more than 1200km. On behalf of all of the busy parents out there, I’d like to thank you for pitching it right for us.
– Aimee Tapping
Ski tourers not as inexperienced as claimed
I was one of the eight ski tourers who showed up at Tasman Hut after (initially) becoming disoriented in a whiteout on the Tasman Glacier in September 2021 (‘In her father’s footsteps’, March 2022).
We were very grateful to Elke Braun-Elwert and Alpine Recreation for assisting us back to our campsite. However, Braun-Elwert was wrong on several counts: we did have food, and plenty of survival and warm gear. We were all competent ski tourers. One of our party was an experienced mountaineer and backcountry skier. Some felt less confident making it back to camp in the cloud and dark. Others were okay, but we were playing it safe and opted to try for the hut rather than pressing on.
Companies like Alpine Recreation benefit enormously from offering exclusive and comparatively expensive private trips on public conservation land. Braun-Elwert appears to miss the irony that the public hut we tried to stay in was largely full of privately guided clients.
– Stefan Fairweather
Families outside in greater numbers
I read with interest the January issue articles about taking kids into the bush.
Over the last few years, it has been pleasing to see more families experiencing New Zealand’s backcountry.
During a recent two week trip to the South Island, we met up with such happy families in each of the huts we stayed. The first being Mueller Hut with mum, dad and four pre-teen children. The kids were polite, helpful, busy, and spent two nights exploring and learning about the environment in the Aoraki/Mt Cook area.
In Hooker Hut, we met a young Japanese family. This was their first experience of tramping and the two very young children had huge smiles all day. Their biggest challenge seemed to be rescuing ‘blown-away’ chopsticks under the hut decking.
Another happy family had biked to the private Meadow Hut in the Pisa Range from Snow Farm Lodge. While at the hut, mum or dad took off on their bikes to get some more exercise and the children kept in touch with them by walkie talkie. We were most impressed with the two children as they filled in their notebooks.
When we arrived at Aspiring Hut, a family of five had already biked to the hut. The next day, they tramped to French Ridge Hut, returning the next day to bike out. I do hope they had bike seats because in their absence, the keas were beginning to rip them to pieces.
It was a joy to meet so many happy families. So well-done parents. We certainly look forward to meeting many more in 2022 and beyond.
– Sue Martin
Safety improvements at Robert Ridge work
I would like to recount how changes on the Robert Ridge Route to Angelus Hut (‘Terrain trap’, February 2022), may have saved a life or two.
In February, shortly after reading the article, I visited Bushline Hut with my family. On the first day, the weather was unpleasant, so we were quite comfortable settling in at the hut with the fire roaring while listening to rain on the roof. The forecast for the evening was heavy rain and gale-force winds above 2000m, so we were quite shocked when two travellers arrived at 7pm looking to push on to Angelus Hut. They looked unprepared for the trip ahead, wearing cotton track pants and using a phone for navigation. We tried to explain the danger of continuing in the current conditions but ultimately we were unable to convince them to stay. One of our group gave them a PLB and exchanged contact details and once more reiterated how dangerous the ridgeline can get. Undeterred, they took the PLB and hiked into the storm.
We spent the evening worried sick as the wind and rain intensified.
The next morning we received a text message from the hikers saying they had stopped short of the ridge and spent the night in a shelter. We can only assume they came across the very large and well-placed danger signs at the start of the Robert Ridge Route and decided better of it. The sign may have saved lives that night.
– Durand Coldicott
Shoes versus boots
Regarding the article ‘Best foot forward’ (March 2022) in which Te Araroa Trail walkers debated whether boots or shoes were best, I say ‘yes’ to both.
In fine weather, on easy, well-marked tracks with a light pack, shoes are fine. But away from Te Araroa and other relatively well marked and well-ventured places, no.
I spent eight hours boulder hopping and route finding around the back of Arthur’s Pass this January and I know from experience that shoes would be no good on that trip. Nor are shoes much use in serious snow and ice.
I have both shoes and boots for tramping and the trick is to select the right pair for the expected conditions: shoes for easy tracks, like 90 per cent of Te Araroa is ok – you can even do the Abel Tasman Coast Track in sandals. But try that in winter up the back of Fiordland or Canterbury in the mountains and see how you get on when crampons and an ice axe are required.
If you are non-alpine tramping in November to April, light composite boots (from a good brand) may be all you need, as long as you stay away from snow and ice.
– Brett Smith