What’s in store for you over the next year? Ricky French looks to the stars to tell your tramping future
Aries ~ March 21 – April 19
It used to be all so easy, didn’t it? You bounded up mountains, sloshed down rivers, pushed through leatherwood with ease. So don’t get too down on your recent slowdown. Age shall not weary; it just gets a little tiresome. Travel looks likely. Remember, the great outdoors won’t come to you. You bring the sunshine where you go, so avoid areas in drought. You have a positive attitude and sunny disposition; the only thing you’re anti is cyclone. A long weekend requires a long walk. Stay in shape, and rotate your knee caps regularly. A new tramping partner will reinvigorate your zest for the bush, and you’ll finally lose some weight. Pack – and think – light.
Taurus ~ April 20 – May 20
It wouldn’t have escaped your notice that your star sign sounds very much like ‘Tararuas’. Is it a sign? Definitely not. Stay away from those dreary, claggy lumps of sodden misery. Why not consider Banks Peninsula? Maybe splash out on a guided tour. It’ll do you fine until they open a tramping/wine tasting trail on Waiheke Island. New gear beckons, which is great news because so does bad weather. You’ll soon put waterproof ratings to their test. Outdoor shops await your custom, so lucky for you there’s a sale on right now. Impulse buys will pay off big time in winter. You will have a surprise meeting with a low-hanging tree branch. Beware of 1080 nutters, and carry spare matches.
Gemini ~ May 21 – June 20
You’ve never been one for crowded huts. A stickler for order, other hut-users just don’t understand the correct way of doing things. No one can set a fire like you can, why do they even bother? You’ve always subscribed to the mantra, ‘hell is other trampers’. Good for you. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Remember – mouthing off is good for the soul. Tramp in twos if you can. Claim the top bunk and remember to bring your boots in overnight. An upcoming high pressure system brings the chance for a remote getaway. Scan that forecast and plan that trip. Stewart Island looks likely. Romance looks unlikely, sorry. Beware of misleading track markers and trust your instincts. It might be a good time to develop some instincts. Take a PLB, and watch out for Spaniards.
Cancer ~ June 21 – July 22
Gaiters, map, compass, toiletry bag, those woollen socks you love but can never find; packing really gets you down! Unpacking is worse. You’ve been known to dump your pack in the hallway and leave it there for weeks. What would your mother say? Now is a great time to establish new systems. Your tramping cupboard should not contain board games. Clean those boots as soon as you return. Wring out those socks by their soggy necks, air out that funky-smelling sleeping bag, sniff out old uneaten fruit. Your new favourite saying: wash and replace, don’t clog up your space. A little organisation goes a long way, and so does a well-serviced car. Avoid bog, the Catlins.
Leo ~ July 23 – August 22
Before you leave for your next tramp, take a look in the mirror. Is this really the image you want to present to the bush-going public? Hypothermia gets a bad rap, but would you really want to be seen dead in that hat? A spruce up wouldn’t hurt. Ditch the ridiculous multi-coloured polypropylene tops for sleek, stylish merino. Get with the times and colour-match with your surroundings. Natural tones suit the bush, and don’t look so bad on you either. Fern green, scoria red, snow white…go with the seasons. Remember, you never know who you might meet in a hut. You will meet a hut warden in a hut.
Virgo ~ August 23 – Sept 22
You’re the world’s greatest couch tramper. Yes, walking vicariously is much safer (and sometimes more enjoyable) than the real thing, but sooner or later the call of the wild will howl. So get out there and knock some bastard off; a mountain, preferably. There’s an enticing peak within 50km of you right now with your name on it. Just as well, too, because its real name is unpronounceable. Take warnings seriously. Listen to advice and drop the ego. Read up on some tramping history, or you’ll be history! Stick to ridge lines and well-marked tracks. Approach slips with care and heed all Maximum One Person signs. Go in the footsteps of others, pack sensibly and label your clothing. You’ll follow the cairns to the stars….
Libra ~ Sept 23 – Oct 22
It’s been a while since it crossed your mind to do a crossing. Loop tracks tend to send you loopy. You’ve always been a dab hand at logistics, so put your skills to use. A stickler for detail, you pride yourself on being able to spot that rouge orange cup amongst the strewn debris of a messy hut. You could run Mt Everest Base Camp if you wanted to. It’s time to rally the troops, or anyone with a station wagon big enough for four packs, because a big adventure awaits. Arranging transport brings great karma. Get to know your road end, research nearby pubs and fast food outlets, and whack some jumper leads in the boot. Have you tied your laces properly? Glazing over minor details could be your downfall.
Scorpio ~ Oct 23 – Nov 21
Finding the time to get outdoors has always been your number one excuse. Finding the outdoors has always been number two. It’s time to invest in some new maps. A trip to your local DOC office will result in new friends and a new enthusiasm for getting off your backside. Buy a hardback while you’re there, and stock up on hut tickets. A middle-aged man in a khaki top and a silver beard will give you helpful advice and talk for just a little too long. Watch your step on the footpath, avoid drifting prams, feed the meter generously, and link arms to cross the road. Remember: most tramping accidents happen within 200m of a DOC office.
Sagittarius ~ Nov 22 – Dec 21
Pasta, porridge, peanut butter; your dull, solid tramping fare could have been written by John Pascoe himself. Late summer is a great time to try out new recipes, and more importantly to ditch the old ones. Step out of your comfort zone every time you step into your tramping boots. Food ideas in Wilderness aren’t just filler, they’re total filler. Who says you have to eat like a student when you hit the mountains? Gourmet tramping is easier than you think. For the best views head south. Beware of avalanches and visiting Australians. Don’t climb above 1500m and try to stick to the downhill. Go off the beaten track and pioneer a new route, even if it’s just to the long-drop. Avoid hut wardens, kea.
Capricorn ~ Dec 22 – Jan 19
A change is as good as a holiday. Unfortunately for you, the only change you’ll be getting is a cold front. But no matter, your stoicism can outlast any weather system. A lifelong plodder, there’s no slowing you down, or speeding you up. You’ve always taken the time to smell the mountain daisies, been the first to pause at every tarn to wash your face. Pay heed to the wise words: Let the hut come to you. You hold a special disdain for the young and fit, rushing about, hut-bagging, GoProing, uploading split times, misguidedly thinking someone cares. Leave them to it, they’ll burn out and you’ll tramp until you’re 85, and then you’ll tramp some more. Look after those knees, and bathe in every stream.
Aquarius ~ Jan 20 – Feb 18
You’ll be feeling fit this month, dear Aquarius. It’s time to take to the tussock and mount those mountains. The only way is up. Sugar gets a bad rap, but you’re going to need some soon. April could be your month of eating nothing but snack food. You’ll have energy to spare for some hut maintenance, too. You’ve always loved chipping in for the common good. It’s time to let someone else handle the washing up. The Seaward Kaikouras are calling, and so is that old tramping buddy you haven’t heard from in years. It’s time to get the old crew back together. Carry a sly hip flask and claim the cosy spot by the fire. Resist the temptation to tear pages from the hut book to start the fire. Remember: you’re leading by example.
Pisces ~ Feb 19 – March 20
You’re an unstoppable force, apart from all those times you stopped. You play hard, but inside you’re a little soft. There’s no shame in that, so don’t listen to what people say. You’re fond of stripping off in tarns and keeping every-one awake with noisy games of cards. You’ve always talked too loud in huts, and been quiet when it comes to washing up. Somehow you’ll still be first up in the morning boiling the billy and flattening the map. Your energy is infectious, and you’d rather burn out than fade away. A snowfall looks likely, so pack extra socks. Your gloves will once again let you down and your pack liner will leak. A solo adventure could be just what you, and everyone else, needs. Carry a first aid kit.