SK Valleys – Jimmy MimiStick Ryan
Saturday 20th of January 2018
I had thought about doing a Valleys for a few months but wasn’t sure if would do the distance. Having only done 50kms in one go and on a track you could ride a quad bike the whole way (Queen Charlotte Track), I thought the 70 odd kms of roots, rocks mud and roots would be too much.
But after some solid outings on my feet and another few over the Christmas break I finally thought after a few jars of courage maybe I could have a crack.
There had also been plenty going on to inspire me as well. Mark Greig leaving Mungahaka hut at 1am – that shit was awesome.
Now I just had to pick a weekend. With a concert in Taupo on the last week of January (aka drinking) and a friends 40th the weekend after (que more drinking), the TMR and the Ring of Fire quickly coming up I declared f**k it – Wellington long weekend it is.
So I rang Seanoa and told what I was thinking and that I was keen to do the river recce so a few days later we were heading off at 3am with a couple of stow a ways, Grant Pritchard and Andrew Thompson. Andrew was attempting to do the holy grail SK. Watching Andrew run off into the dark had me pumped and really sealed it for me.
One week later and here I was standing next to the same sign ready to take myself off into the darkness. Quick stretch for the cameras and few manly handshakes and another reassuring you can f**ken do this from Seanoa and I was off.
TIME 3 am
Putara -Cow Creek
Full of nerves and a little doubt I was into it then bang rolled my ankle less than 200m from the car. So it’s going to be like that is it? No damage done I ran on to scare a possum which crashed down out of the tree right in front of me. I completely shit myself and maybe let out a yell.
With the forecast predicting to reach 30 degrees and already very warm when I started I was surprised when it started to rain, que the Pina Colada song – I had it stuck in my head the whole way!
Roaring Stag Hut 1.5 hours and right on time quick photo and moved on, I was eager to see the state of the river after lots of rain during and week plus more on the way in. I was worried it would be up. Shit! There was a lot more water than the week before but by no means a raging torrent. I decided to do the sensible thing and push on and within a few moments I was literally balls deep into this thing. The river travel was a bit slow due to wet rocks and the crossings a bit tricky I still managed to get through to the turn in an hour. That really is the best part of the trip the scenery through there is just incredible.
Cow Creek to Mitre Flats
Quick bush bash up and I was quickly onto the track to cow creek. I got through here in reasonable fashion and remembered to take my time I was soon ticking off another check point, Cow Creek. From here I was entering unknown territory.
Probably not quite as well travel track this was still reasonably easy to follow and managing to do only a few steps back in the wrong direction before I knew it Mitre Flats Hut out of the trees. “JIMMY WOO!!!”
A mate (J.T) was tramping with a group to bag the peak, getting here bang on 6 hours this was a great surprise and a great lift. I hadn’t seen anyone since leaving Seanoa at Putara.
Mitre Flats to Atiwhakatu
With no time to waste I was off again and trying to steady the pace reminding myself not to try and crush it when the going was good. The Baldy turn came quickly as did the Jumbo Track it was Atiwhakatu Hut that seemed to take ages but once I finally glimpsed the Hut come into view it was then that I really started to believe.
Atiwhakatu Hut Bang on 8hrs and right on schedule, I was pumped!
Lots of water, some bacon, more water, once again reminded by the party staying there how mad I was and I was running again.
Atiwhakatu to Totara Flats
Round the slip I topped up with more water as I knew I would be awhile between drinks still I was feeling good and soon passing the first shopping turn with a big middle finger salute.
Cappucino in Greytown Sir?
Settling into the Hooper Loop climb I knew this was going to be tough and within a short time went from feeling good to entering dark patch #1 After a few moments of weakness I reminded myself that this was tramping speed and that I should be able to do this all day plugging on my thoughts where were soon broken by “THERE HE IS!”. This time it was Ritchie and Sam out doing the Hooper Loop In training for the JH the first thing I could say was “don’t offer me anything” they followed in behind me till the turn quick photo op with the sign that Seanoa had left and also what I was calling the halfway mark I was plunging down on towards Totara.
This was where I was also starting to feel the down hills in the legs for the first time but once I reached the old track turn I was back to feeling good and getting through what felt like a steady pace. Not keen to take the half dug out bridge I dropped down through the river cooled the feet and before I knew it I was at the hut.
Here is where I could really feel the heat of the day but I also felt like I had heaps left. It was awesome to stretch the legs out and really take in the scenery and talk to more trampers along the way.
Toatara Flats to Cone Hut
Back down into the river dunking the feet, a big chop of tailwind and a caffeine gel I was ready to take on Cone Saddle witch I knew would be the climb of the day. Passing the turn up to the saddle with another C`mon mother f**ker I got through the climb in pretty good shape it was just the rest of it the went on far longer then I remembered.
Last chance for shopping? HEEEEELL NO!
Bit of a shuffle down to Cone and on past the hut I stopped at the Bull Mound Turn on the river edge cleaned out my shoes and soaked my feet while I laid out my gear and planned my escape.
I couldn’t stomach anymore bloody power cookies/bars it looked like I was going to finish this thing the old-fashioned way, on expensive white powder and pills (Tailwind, No Doze).
Bit of inspiration left by Seanoa
Cone Hut to Kaitoke
After a few hits of each and a good lathering of Gurney Goo I was charging down the last valley knowing I would make it but reminding myself the job was not done. I spoke to a tramper camped on the flats in front of Tutuwai who told me it took her 4hrs to tramp in, after giving a few blank stares between her and my watch I said good bye, crossed a creek and followed a marker up onto the river terraces??? Is this right? View ranger check says the track is east of me? It was here I did exactly what you are supposed to do and blundered on. It wasn’t long before I knew I had to back track and decided to head towards the river and crashed down said river terrace and yup there was the track (who gets lost here?).
The last few kms before the swing bridge were long nearly convincing myself I had run straight past it but sure enough it finally showed itself and it was time to get this done.
One more No Doze and another slug of warm tailwind I managed to tick off the places I knew on the track quit quickly and clapping my hands when the puffer came into site.
I was completely amped knowing I only had a few kms to go getting up there as fast as I could my phone was soon going berserk with alerts. I called Seanoa and all I could do was sing the song that had been with me all day, he was just pulling up and told me if I got a move on I could go under 17:30 so with that it was a sprint finish for the last few glory kms and finished right on dark and a time of 17:18.
It took a few moments for the brain to slow down and was awesome to reflect on how far I had come.
This is what 0% Left looks like
There were nearly 50 comments on BSR a lot of these from people I had never meet. Awesome!
Big shout to everyone for their tips for the route
Martini for the last-minute call/pep talk
Seanoa for everything from starting this s**t with me to picking me up at the end (Ultra-Wingman)
My Wife for understanding when I`m not home by 3
And to Dave Leppard for the Gurney Goo tip. You really did save my balls and probably my life.
Going into this my plan was simple, make it to Cone after that there is only one way out!
8 bags tailwind 3 scoops
3 SIS gels recommended easy to get down not sweet.
Em’s power cookies only could get through 1
5 rashers of bacon
Salt stick chews
First aid kit dry thermal emergency bag
Petzal head plus spear
Inov_8 race 10 vest
Saloman S-Lab wings 8 shoes