With about a week to go before starting the Te Araroa , myself and a good friend decided to hit the road out of Auckland and take off on a quick overnight tramp. I really wanted to give my boots, backpack and raincoat a good test as well as stretch the legs.
For the last few weeks I have been getting gear ready, most of it was sorted from my Canadian summer but I needed to make some clothes choices and decided to get a new lighter weight raincoat , which will keep me dry but not cause massive overheating in this humid and warm summer.
With steady rain pattering around us we donned our packs at the start of the trip, after driving through the windy road into the Kauaeranga Valley situated east of Thames in the Coromandel Forest Park.
The trail up to the Pinnacles track is one I have done twice before, about 10 years and 5 years ago respectively. Both times I can remember it being a grunt, not particularly difficult but just continuously up… it was time to get cracking!
At the start of the track there was a station for cleaning boots and gaiters as to not contaminate any soil/seeds into the area, as the precious kauri trees in NZ are being affected by a deadly disease, Kauri Dieback.
With clean boots we tramped onwards and then upwards in the rain. My pack felt great , same with the boots. The feet quickly got wet as we decided to do a creek crossing instead of taking the swingbridge, as I wanted to practice. Success as we made it to the other side, boots were comfy when wet. Another bonus!
The track is well formed but does have giant steps which require some super step up moves, not unlike a giant forward lunge. Although I could have taken a much smaller pack and we were in the hut, I wanted to test my gear so had my pack complete with tent and sleeping pad.
The legs were getting a wake up! Although the Pinnacles track is a moderate trail, you do traverse several slip zones, and exposed sections of trail where you are very open to the elements.
The upper portion of the track from the hut to the summit includes ladders, stairs and metal rungs kind of like giant staples which help you scramble up to the top.
After a couple of hours and several snack breaks we were happy to see the luxurious hut and the cheery DOC ranger waiting to greet us. Even better, only a few of us with the hut all to ourselves, a luxury compared to the hustle and bustle of the usually popular hut!
After a relaxing evening with food, cards, and new friends, we decided to bite the bullet and head up to the Pinnacles summit for sunrise the next morning.
Beanies and fleeces along with headlamps and blurry morning vision had us climbing several hundred metres rapidly the next morning in the beautiful pre- sunrise.
It was worth it! Thanks to Dom for his talented photography skills on these photos.
Later we headed back down to the carpark, following the Billygoat track to make a loop instead of the trail we came up yesterday. One last river crossing right at the end gave us fresh clean feet and boots before hitting Thames for a well deserved pie from the local bakery.
All together a great little training tramp, was happy with my gear and the weight on my back, thanks legs for doing great. Only one small blister on the feet, not bad for new boots, mud,sweat, wet feet and lots of up and down terrain.
Next tramp – the Te Araroa!