Jimmie Fourie and Marta Zanetti
23rd December 2017
There was a party of people doing a Valley SK.
This meant an easy lift to the Putara-end of the world start of the adventure.
My Godzone team mate Jimmie was keen to do some training together so why not?
You will love it Jimmie..honest
The other ones are setting off at silly o’clock, we start at 6.27 pm. Reasons: no faffing around, you are ready, you go. Good GZ training. No possibilities of sleeping atthe school house with an alarm clock at 3am. You travel through the night still fresh and when youstart feeling a bit tired ( hopefully after ten hours) the sunrise saves you and you feel better. At night your speed is naturally slowed so better not to be tired, too. A six pm start during longest days of the year means that you get to the only navigational tricky point with daylight, so all good. Jimmie is not yet in his usual top shape but he is strong, a great mate and we don’t have records to chase, just a mission to accomplish: doing it all.
Marta and Jimmie Godzone buddies
Ruamahanga – Cow Creek
Off we go, nice dry conditions, quite warm, beautiful track to Roaring Stag. 7.47 pm. Good. Down Ruamanga river making sure that Navigator Jimmie knows that’s the only place I am worried about: I missed the junction at Cleft Creek already once, in day light, together with expert people. We have to be careful. It’s 3 kms, more or less? Bumping on rocks with very shallow water it’s going to be one hour? Ok, let’s go.
Nice and easy going, still good light, around 9pm I see wet prints on the rocks, start saying “ there must be someone in front of us” and wow. A beautiful three points deer stands in front of us, jumps in the middle of the river and stops, looking at us, magnificent. We are amazed and we start hearing lots of steps in the bush, see prints everywhere, we talk about wildlife, hunting etc etc… 9.40 we think it might be time to be on the track, eh…Check on View Ranger and we are halfway down Ruamanga Gorge. Nice one. That deer. He was exactly at the junction.
Hmm where is Cleft Creek track?
That’s ok, it’s warm, we are fresh, water is low, ah ah ah, is such a good fun to be there in an incredible starry night. Back there, we see the magic triangle but no track around it. May be it’s further up the river? Go. Nope. Back to the triangle. We separate to check and Jimmie finally finds it, farther up the sign. Uff. We go on the track, not easy in the dark, few windfalls but ok, doable. We get to Cow Creek around midnight ( sorry, just a Casio, I don’t remember all the timings) and we go on to Mitre.
Cow Creek -Mitre
Mitre is a bit more far away than I remembered, but the track is good, we are going fine and apart from my comic skid on a wet wooden board covered in overgrown tussock ( no net, eh…) is all going great.
At the hut Jimmie sits down and tells me he is tired. Oh oh. Too early for this. I feel bad, as I knew he wasn’t really ready for this at this time of the year but I convinced him to come. We eat, I tell him we can stop when we want, we can bail any time and we slowly move on towards Atiwhakatu.
Mitre Hut to Atiwhakatu
Uphill to Pinnacle Saddle is not super easy but ok, we are walking anyway, once we get to the bridge and to Baldy junction we think, great, we are at the hut. But man, that part from Ati Stream junction to the hut was so long, it took ages, I said one hundred times “ it’s not far, now” and it was never there. Endless.
We get to the hut and it’s daylight since a while, so I’d say we were at Baldy without torches around 5? Ati 6? Jimmie sits down and sees me going on. He asks: “ are we off”? With sad eyes. I say yes and we go.
No one on the track, beautiful morning, we feel better with the dawn, birds singing and a caffeine pill kicking on. It starts being a bit easier, we travel faster with the daylight, may be we can do a good time. Up Mountain House shelter track, first time for me, nice little grunt. At Piggy’s flat Jimmie has a couple of Panadol, sore legs. I keep on eating and drinking and feeling strangely fine. Happy. Enjoying so much. Down Totara Flats, beautiful and easy track. We meet a family of hunters at the hut, I share my
billtongs with the kids, they proudly show their recent hunt and we go. Up to the junction to Cone, another one I remembered was closer than that.
And it’s time to go to Cone, I start feeling a bit tired, too and that bloody sign doesn’t come out of the bush. Where is it? It must have been moved, should have got to it ages ago. When we finally get to it I kick it as strongly as I can. Stupid sign. Stupid hill. Down to the hut swearing and complaining about everything.
There is a bow hunter having some pasta. We stop and the menu is caffeine pill, panadol and sour worms. Let’s go home, Tutuwai ( Jimmie, you want to see it? Nope. Ok, we go…) Every stream is a nice stop for drinking, cooling down legs and washing neck and face.
We finally get to the bridge, Smiths Creek Shelter, we consider walking it all but it would take ages so we walk-trot in a ridiculous pace. Puffer, nice young gorse all around, heat coming from the sun, happy to go down. Out at Kaitoke by 2.57 pm, Jimmie quite tired but wow. Doing this with little training, he says it has been a 20 hours meditation trip, such a strong man. So.
I have always been dreaming ( and trying it ) about a ridge SK and thought that a valley was too easy. It’s not. But lots of water, easy accessible huts and bailing points, little climb, sheltered route, straightforward tracks make it much more enjoyable. Def reachable under 24 for a medium runner.
Took us 20 and a half with two hours lost in the gorge and lots of walking.
I am happy. My team mate Jimmie is the best and I am looking forward to be racing with him in Fiordland.
Thanks Chris for being a constant inspiration.
Now I go on dreaming of a ridge one.
Jimmies shoes !!