Here it is – Rob’s very first blog post!! It’s all about the exciting “Man vs Wild” adventure he had with the boys in early January.
These are all his words; I just typed it out for him to save him, oh, 137 hours. All the photos were taken by him and the boys. They took almost 40 of them in total, AND a video, which impressed me no end (when Rob went on Ethan’s school camp last year, he took approximately a dozen photos over 3 days).
If you’re at all familiar with the TV show “Man vs Wild” with Bear Grylls (who I think is kinda hot, just quietly), you will understand the enthusiasm and style of Rob’s writing. To appreciate it fully, you need to imagine that you are watching the events unfold on your TV screen, with Rob’s words being spoken as narrative. And if you’re as clever as my kids, you’ll even be able to mimic Bear’s British accent and distinctive vocal intonation to make it even more realistic.
Here is Rob’s story:
For a long time, Karangahake Gorge has been a special place for me. I love all the things it has to offer. Like a good burger combo, it has lived up to its reputation. Its mountainous peaks are every step as big as they look in the pictures, its streams and swimming holes more refreshing than any icy beverage, and on the side, the mystery of its mining history left strewn around like the last few golden fries you just can’t finish. This has been one combo that has really satisfied.
0700h. The alarm rings, but I’ve been waiting for it. Like Christmas morning, the excitement of the day ahead had woken me early. After a good breakfast, the last few items were packed, then bags stacked in the back of the wagon. By 8:00 we were on our way, each with our own thoughts of what lay ahead. After a brief stop in Paeroa to stock up on 2-minute noodles and canned goodness, we waved to the L&P bottle.
Minutes later, we were there: the Karangahake Gorge carpark, just in time to get a space before it overflowed with tour buses and day trippers all crawling around in circles waiting for the early birds to leave.
We decided to take the Mount Karangahake track. It looked like it would be the most rewarding, with promises of views from Thames to Waihi, and the boys were keen to camp mountain top. The day was a scorcher, and we were glad of our track choice when it veered away from the wide open gravel and became narrow bush covered dirt track. Even with tree roots and pine cones threatening to roll ankles, we were glad to be in the shade and away from the crowds.
We crossed a small stream and then linked up with the Mount Karangahake track. Scotsman Gully had been a connecting path from the swing bridge and the gorge to the track that would take us to the summit.
12:00. The boys were doing well, really well, but with lunch time looming we were all counting down the minutes to 12 noon. We had walked up a real hunger, one that could only be satisfied by three packets of chicken noodles (cooked on our recently purchased gasmate hiking cooker), muesli bars and several fruit Digestives.
We topped up our drink bottles, and continued on upwards from a small stream that crossed the path. The track got pretty steep in places, and at one point I had to take Tyler’s backpack for 5 or 10 minutes. Both boys carried their own sleeping bag, clothes, towel, and some of our food supplies, so to get to the top with just a few stops, well I couldn’t have been more proud of them both.
With the summit in sight and another muesli bar in our stomachs, we pushed on through gorse and waist high bushes, which at times obscured the track entirely. And then suddenly we were there, but so was another family, and all the things Ethan and Tyler said they would do when we reached the peak were forgotten. There were no cries of “Victorious!” or “I’m King of the World!”, and there was no grass to lay down in and make grass angels! But there was certainly a huge sense of achievement. In a lot of ways, the summit was not what we imagined it would be, with no room to even stretch out.
We wouldn’t be camping anywhere near the top. The boys understood; we would need to walk at least another hour to get to a place where we could make camp. So our time at the top was short lived, but it seemed to have given the boys some kind of energy boost, and for a while I was rushing to keep up.
Two hours later, after taking a detour that looked promising but failed to live up to that promise, we collapsed into long grass 10 metres from the path we had travelled some 4-5 hours earlier that day. There was just enough time for a few grass angels before shelter building began. We had brought the tent fly and a picnic blanket with us, so with the help of an old Taranaki gate, some bendy branches and the strap from a camera bag, we managed to put together a fairly half decent shelter.
It was certainly good enough for one windless night and three worn out boys. It was never designed to keep out wild animals, so after wolfing down dinner, a story and a couple of hands of Last Card, I did my best to stay awake and protect my young.
We woke to a misty morning, unable to see the Karangahake peak and marvel at our achievement of the previous day. After breakfast, which happened to be remarkably similar to our dinner menu (spaghetti and sausages on an English muffin, with peaches for dessert), we packed our bags, threw our ‘tent poles’ into the bush, and hit the trail once again, looking forward to finally ditching our backpacks once we got back to the car.
With our feet pointing downhill and almost all our food no longer on our backs, the hike home seemed a lot easier. No longer did we need to wipe sweat from our dusty brows, as the cloud cover kept our operating temperatures to an all time low. And in no time, we were back trying our best to swing the swing bridge.
After another lunch of noodles, and bidding good riddance to our backpacks, it was time to play! We walked through the train tunnel, climbed on the remains of gold mining machinery, then swam in waterfall-fed swimming pools.
It was the perfect end to our Man (and boys) vs. Wild adventure. And so, until our next episode, I will relive each moment in my mind and remember this trip and my two wonderful mountaineering mates, Ethan and Tyler.
The boys also wrote their own versions of the adventure:
I woke up at 7:00. After porridge, I checked my bag. I took a T-shirt and a long-sleeve and some other stuff with me. Me and Daddy found a cave. It was very muddy. Finally we got to the top, but there was NO! place to camp there. “Oh no!” I shouted. We had to go all the way back to a grassy field. Me and Daddy made a shelter together. We had something for supper and then we put our stuff in the tent. We brushed our teeth, then we quickly went to sleep. Zzzzzzzzz!
The next day we woke up at 7:00, then we went down to the river. We filled our drink bottles up and kept walking. I was VERY! tired but we finally got there! We climbed some of the things, then we looked for a place to swim. Daddy found a waterfall so we swam in it. It was cold. Me and Ethan jumped in with a mighty SPLASH! Then we quickly swam back before we sunk. We got out quickly; we were f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g.
And then we put our bums in the car, drove all the way back home and had a fajita for supper.
I got up at 7:00 A.M. on Monday. Packed our bags and had breakfast. Vroom vroom! We took off. It took about one hour and a half. We’re there! We found a park. We looked at the map and decided to climb to the top of Mt. Everest! Wait a minute, not Mt. Everest, Mt. Karangahake! It said that it took one hour and forty minutes, but it took about three hours. We found a stream and had lunch by it. We had chicken noodles, they were OK. Daddy had a really, really big and heavy bag, with all the plates and all his clothes in as well.
A few minutes after we had lunch, we found a little field and I said, “This looks like a good spot to camp”, but we kept on going. Mostly after that was all uphill. The path to the top of the mountain was all narrow and gorsey. But finally we made it. YES! There was absolutely no space at the top. OK, now we have to go all the way down.
“My feet really hurt”, I moaned with Tyler. Yes, finally we’re there. I dashed to the grass and fell over on purpose, and also made grass angels. We found a little doorish thing with heaps of leaves and sticks. And that’s where we got our sticks from to make our shelter, and we used the top half of our tent as well. We put the tarpaulin in and then the sleeping bag in over it. We had spaghetti for dinner, and peaches for pudding. And brushed our teeth.
When I woke up, Tyler’s head was on Daddy’s chest. I thought they were still asleep, but they weren’t. It was six thirty when I woke up. We had the same thing for breakfast as dinner, but the other way around. We packed up our stuff and carried on hiking. “Yay, we’re there, we’re at the bottom. We made it, victory is ours!”
We went through a pitch black tunnel/train track. Then we climbed on a few places, and then Dad suggested we could swim at a waterfall. Daddy videoed us. The water was freezing!
At times like these, I am reminded how blessed my boys are to have such a wonderful Dad. He’s the most important role model in their life, and they honestly couldn’t ask for a better one. He is kind, selfless and knows how to have FUN! I know the memories my 3 boys created together over those 2 days will stay with them all FOREVER. And that makes me really happy.