Tag Archive for 'outdoors'
While taking a few photos at Franx Josef glacier the other day I accidentally bumped the zoom. Somehow reminds me of the poster from Flight of the Conchords. Definitely another ! Murray…
I went for another wee trip to drop my cousin over to Te Anau. We drove through the Catlins, in the Southeast corner of the South Island. We started out at the Nuggets, and then had a lunch stop and some waterfalls.
We camped at Tautuku Bay and watched the sunset.
The next day we drove onÂ past Slope Pt, the southernmost point on the Mainland.
We had fish ‘n’ chips for lunch in Bluff.
We then drove on to Te Anau… more photos here.
We went for a drive over to Milford late last week, we camped the first night on the shores of Lake Te Anau. This was pretty much the view from the back door of the campervan!
We stopped at the Mirror Lakes on the way in to Milford, it was raining a bit so they weren’t too mirror-like.
It was also foggy, so no epic pictures of Mitre Peak.
Coming out of the Homer Tunnel again there were entertaining Kea.
At least with some rain there was plenty of water in the rivers.
Starting back, we stayed the night at Mavora Lakes.
The rest of the photos are here.
Earlier this week we spent a few days driving through dirt roads in Central Otago. The views to be had out there are beautifully rugged…
There are old unused buildings from gold mining days.
And wonderfully shaped hills. If you like the look have a look for Graeme Sydney stuff.
More photos here.
Today we paddled from Outram to Allenton along the Taieri River. I was the perfect day to be so close to so much cool water!
More canoeing photos here.
I went spearfishing for the first time this morning. As you can tell from his face my brother was stoked!
After Christmas we went for a walk along the South Coast track. It begins near Tuatapere and wanders around the coast. We walked as far as the Wiraurahuri river and caught a jet boat up to Lake Hauroko. A beautiful part of the country…
There were parts of the walk on the beach, alternating with parts in the forest.
Being at the bottom of the South Island, we could see Stewart Island for a fair bit of the trip.
The rest of the photos are here.
A few days before Christmas we took a trip to see the Orokonui Sanctuary, a new sanctuary near Dunedin modeled on the Karori one in Wellington. Though in its infancy, the sanctuary has some friendly Kaka.
More photos here.
We spent a family day out at Tidbinbilla, the nature reserve, not where the telescopes for NASA’s deep space network are. It was rather cloudy and windy, but was nice anyway…
The rest of the photos are here.
Part of the reason for going back to NZ was to walk the Kepler track with my brother and cousin. The Kepler is about 60km long, making a loop in the mountains rising from the shores of Lake Te Anau. Easter is a pretty busy time, so we did the walk backwards (like Spike Milligan…). This post is about our trip, and hopefully gives some useful info for others intending on doing the walk.
We planned for the walk at a bar, writing out a shopping list of stuff which we then went and purchased. Doing so at a supermarket we probably ended up with too much ‘normal’ food, and too little light camping style freeze-dried stuff. This turned out to be a bit of a pain for me, more due to lack of fitness and practise than because of extreme weight. We paid for huts on the DOC website weeks beforehand.
We stayed overnight in Te Anau at the main holiday park, and caught the bus to Rainbow Reach the next morning. We got some info on the bus when we picked up our hut tickets (needs to be done prior to the walk). The bus left from outside the DOC center across the road from where we stayed. The first day promised to be pretty easy, a leisurely 1.5hr walk to Lake Manapouri. We left early so had the whole afternoon to relax on the beach (relaxing involves DEET to repel the multitude of sandflies of course).
We found the huts to be well set up, with cookers, mattresses, and even a few pot scrubs to do the dishes. They also have running water and flush toilets! The mattresses are a bit noisy due to covers, but at least the bunk areas are warm due to lots of people. After some cheese and crackers with a few games of cards, we had dinner on the beach. We lit a fire and watched the sun set behind the hills.
Day two had some real walking, 5 or so hours up the valley to Iris Burn hut. Most of the day was in Beech forest, with the spare space taken up by ferns. The first half was much faster than we expected, probably since we found we went quicker earlier in the day.
We stopped for lunch by the river, finishing off the previous days lunch. At this point it was starting to dawn on us that we hay way more food than was necessary. Sometime around this time my pack was starting to feel pretty heavy too, partly due to the 80l capacity which I always seemed to fill most of.
There is a stretch of the day out in the open, near the imaginatively named ‘Big Slip’. This part gave us the first real look at the surrounding hills. There is a little hill at the end of the day, and then a little drop down to Iris Burn hut. The area around the hut is very nice, with hills on all sides and a short walk to the (very cold) river where some people had a (very short) swim. Again the hut was well appointed. We met up with some friends, who told us of the joys ahead the next day, which involved a 500m climb via 97 zig-zags.
We managed the climb out of the trees reasonably easily the net morning, things being much easier first thing in the day. We were rewarded with some wonderful views when we reached the tree line near the end of the first climb. The rest of the day goes along the tops toward Luxmore hut, with two emergency shelters along the way. We stopped at the first for lunch, and the second for afternoon tea. I found the going pretty hard on my feet, with lots of rock underfoot instead of the more leafy/dirty stuff of the first two days. The best views came from the top of Mt Luxmore near the end of the day as we approached Luxmore hut.
This being our last night, we continued to eat as much food as possible to make our final day as easy as possible. In the end we still finished the track with tonnes of scroggin and a loaf of bread.
The last day was a big drop down to the lake, and a walk around some of it. Before leaving we had a look at the caves near the hut. To get to them requires a few steps along the trail back to Te Anau, and a walk off to the right to where the caves start. The caves are quite spacious, aside from a little squeeze down to about 1m near the start. We didn’t have tonnes of time, so I turned back after a while. It seemed like the caves went on forever!
The walk down was pretty hard on my legs, being pretty much a constant downhill for about 1000m. Upon reaching the lake we had a quick bite (so did the ever present sandflies) and pushed on to the end. Ewan went ahead to collect the car…
We arrived at the control gates near the end eventually, and waited for our ride to appear. I had an Easter egg and enjoyed the view over the lake.
The rest of the photos are here.
Yesterday I went for a drive up the Otago Peninsula with my dad. It’s very nice up there…
More photos when I get somewhere I can upload them in a finite time…
So the coolest thing about snowboarding in places that aren’t New Zealand is trees. I just spent three days snowboarding through trees at Sugarbush resort in Vermont. Some times they were spaced nicer than others, but there was generally a ton of powder on the way through… it’s times like those that there just isn’t time to take photos, and I can’t be bothered carrying my camera, so you’ll just have to picture me cruising through silky powder in beautiful birch and pine glades…
Fresh from the Thanksgiving trip, I was ready for another trip to the snow in Vermont. Jen and I headed out nice and early on Friday, to avoid both work and potential traffic issues… Arriving safely, we relaxed with other relaxed house residents.
There was still some nice snow lying around from the huge, early season dump earlier in the week, and conditions were pretty good. Plenty of people turned up on Saturday to check out the first real weekend of the season, which in the second week of December is pretty exciting if the rest of the season continues in the same fashion. With the whonle mountain open, our options were pretty good. Some trails were still suffering from the grass/trees/rocks poking through thing, but on the whole I was pretty impressed and had an enjoyable day.
The evening brought an excellent meal, and coming a close second playing Taboo…
Sunday was a little hard to get out of bed, but we still managed a reasonable day. I lugged my camera around for a fun from the top, quite a different way to ride when I was looking for nice pics rather than silly things to do on the trail edges.
I managed to ride along a get some almost action shots too…
Good times, the rest of the photos are here.
Hot on the heels of my previous trip to the Cape, I took Laurie out the for a drive last Sunday. Arriving somewhat late, the lady at the rental place gave me an upgrade and 10% off my car. Hello Chevy Impala SS with warmed leather seats and a somewhat decent rumble!
We stopped at my favourite breakfast place in Barnstable after a walk on the beach, and then went on to other beaches… There was a massive storm the night before, and there were bits of tree everywhere. The other sign of the storm, large waves, was still present, along with tonnes of surfers. We also saw whales much further out to sea, and other seashore wildlife.
We had an early dinner in Provincetown, and kind of saw the sunset up at Race Pt. We took our shiny car back to Boston…
The rest of the photos are here.
So my dad has been visiting, one of the first things we did was go for a walk through the Blue Hills reservation. I’ve been there before and thought it would be nice to go again. It was rather beautiful with all the fall colours… even though I took us along a rather convoluted route to get there…
Straight on the back of my Peruvian adventure I had some visitors. My uncle Pete dropped by via San Franciso on his way back to Australia from England, the most direct route obviously…
We went to the Harvard Museum of Natural History, which is excellent. They have a collection of glass flowers that is absolutely incredible. I went in expecting them to look like glass flowers, but no. They look like what they’re supposed to, and are beautifully detailed and accurate. It took the makers something like 40 years to put the collection together, but it looks like it was worth it… The museum also has an amazing display of rocks and minerals, as well as a comprehensive set of animals. Well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
The next day we walked the Freedom Trail. This is the essential thing to do in Boston if you like American history.
The day after that we rented a car a cruised up into New England. We didn’t mean to at the outset, but we ended up at the top of Mt Washington on a wonderful clear day.
We got back rather late in the evening, but it was a worthwhile trip… more photos here.
Despite having been there for three days, I still feel an urge to call the place the Adrionacks. I have no idea why.
So on Friday I picked up my rental, which I called my Sega Saturn, since it felt rather like a small toy. However, the kind people at Alamo have scored 2/2 with places to plug my ipod into the stereo, nice!
I drove off toward upstate NY a bit after lunchtime, in the hope of catching a few covered bridges in Vermont on the way. I was quickly rewarded, seeing one (number 1 in fact) in New Hampshire before I even got near Vermont. I picked up another before leaving covered bridge country for some state park in the bottom left of Vermont. I found my way up towards Ticonderoga, where I thought I’d have a quick look at the fort there, before heading on to my campsite.
Unfortunately I hadn’t checked things out, and my map was none the wiser (if I’d looked closer I would have been fine). One can’t actually drive across Lake Champlain to get to Ticonderoga. There is a ferry! Not being accustomed to these things I wasn’t expecting it… It turns out I’d also arrived 15 minutes after the ferry closed for the day so missed out there, and drove another half our to go the landlubber’s route.
Fort Ticonderoga was closed, being a 9-5 kind of fort, so I took some pictures of the moon and the lake instead. I then went on to Rogers Rock campground, situated on the shores of Lake George and near the top end of the beautiful route 9N. Nothing much eventful happened at the campground. I saw a firefly which was cool.
The next day I drove along the lake down route 9N, hoping to see as much as possible before the forecast crappy weather set in. I made it all the way up to Newcomb for a walk near the Visitor Center before it started to drip. I was constantly harassed by bugs on that walk, and covered my silly straw hat (see here) in DEET, and wore it, from that point on. I had lunch at Long Lake, and continued up to Lake Placid (I didn’t see any crocodiles), proud home of two (count ‘em) winter Olympics.
The town itself is a typical American tourist trap, but there are some cool things nearby. Whiteface Mountain has a ski field on it, so I thought I’d go have a look. I was astonished at the size of it, mainly since I knew it is about the same height as the peaks I was planning on scaling the next day. Feeling a little shaken, I thought I conquer this one by driving, after my nice Mt Washington experience of peaks with roads.
I paid my $9 (Mt Washington = $20) and cruised up. There are nice views of Lake Placid and the general area, but the coolest things are a castle at the top of the road, and an elevator the rest of the way! Being a typical mountain in its geometry, the elevator base is a hundred meters or so into the hill. Very cool. Unfortunately it was very cool and totally cloudy at the top so all I saw was a sign saying how high Whiteface Mtn is.
By now the day was waning, so I drove towards my campsite, stopping past the Ausable Club to check out the starting point for the next day. I stayed at Sharp Bridge for the night, the highlight being sitting in my car with a few beers listening to the pouring rain.
Sunday started all foggy, and off I went to bag me some peaks… (which is another story).
The drive back after my epic trek was rather long, slow, and boring. I took some photos of a nice sunset somewhere along the 2East, and got back about midnight.
Excellent trip, the rest of the photos are here.
These three words pretty much sum up my High Peaks experience.
Having found a site that showed some trails, the peaks they scaled, and some approximate distances I decided that I’d have a go at walking over Gothics, Armstrong, and perhaps the Wolfjaws. The height of 4700ft didn’t sound like that much until I saw Whiteface Mtn near Lake Placid, at which point I realised it would be quite a hike.
With directions on how to get to the Ausable Club trailhead, I started bright and early at about 7am on Sunday. The first 4 or so miles was supposed to be rather uneventful, walking to the top of Lower Ausable Lake along a private road. A few miles down the road I was surprised to look up and see a bear looking at me. It was off the road, and looked curious rather than imposing. My first though was “phew! it’s not too big”, and my second thought was “oh shit, it’s not too big!”. Thankfully it appeared to be alone and I backed off and switched camera lenses. The bear went back to its foraging, and I sauntered past, taking a few pics as I went.
Having seen a bear in the first hour of my trip, I wondered how I could possibly top the experience, and whether the rest of the day would just be a lot of walking up hills. At the start of the real trail my question was answered by a mummy and baby deer. I surprised them, and was readying my camera since I wanted a shot before they ran off. How naive of me. Instead of fleeing, the mum came towards me… and I hastily continued up the trail. She crossed the trail behind me, and when I looked back again, she did a little charge towards me. This rather surprised and scared me so I again hastily carried on up the trail, with many furtive glances back to see that I wasn’t about to be… well whatever attacking deer do to curious hikers. I only got one photo, and it looks like trees and no deer unfortunately.
From there it was onwards and upwards, mostly upwards. The trails were again much more rugged that I’d expected, and I found myself scrambling up sheer rock and hanging onto trees many times throughout the day, thus completing the third part of my alliterative title. My first proper stop was the top of Gothics (here’s some ideas about naming the high peaks), where I hung out with John and a mouse for a while. I declined John’s offer to take a photo, and did a silly one myself…
At 4736ft, Gothics was the highest peak of the day, the rest was downhill (on average), but with some significant scrambling in places to get up Armstrong Mtn, and Upper and Lower Wolfjaws. Thus bagging me 4 out of a total 46 Adirondack high peaks (the high peaks are all over 4000ft). People who climb all 46 get to join a club and get a badge, or 10/10 and a Koala stamp as Philip Adams would say. Though it’s a bit hard to see, this photo looks back over the all the peaks I climbed, aside from the distant one at the far right, from the last one, Lower Wolfjaw.
I enjoyed the rest of the walk, though was getting sore knees by the end, and started singing to myself for fear that I’d come upon more large animals that took exception to my presence. I walked with a fellow from New York city for a while, grateful for some company, and got back to the car around 5pm, ten hours after I’d left it.
Having been back in Boston for a whole two days I felt like getting out and doing something. A few people mentioned that there was something at the end of the Orange Line, if you could avoid getting shot on the way. While there aren’t any decent maps on the Middlesex Fells pages, I found a good pdf one on a biking site.
Getting there is simple, go to the north end of the Orange line and walk up Washington St until you hit one of the many ‘gates’ along that road, I went up Goodyear Rd and started there along the Rock Circuit Trail. This trail appears to hit every outcrop on the eastern side of the Fells, and goes through many and varied kinds of forest. The circuit took about 2.5 hours for the round trip, not including the 15 minutes or so from the T stop.
The walk is similar to the Blue Hills Reservation skyline trail, which has a number of views of the city. It’s a much smaller park, but is perhaps easier to get to. From the little time I spent there it appeared the density of people was rather less too.
The rest of the photos are here.
I spent all day today either in, or travelling to and from the Blue Hills Reservation (links 1, 2). Located (sort of) near the end of the Red Line, it’s the largest piece of land available for people to walk through in the area. I got there by going to the Ashmont end of the Red Line, then going the extra bit to Mattapan on the ‘Trolley’. This is a bus right now, since there’s a ton of construction and leaves from right outside the T stop. Then a smaller bus took me down to the Trailside Museum. A fair way to travel, but less than $5 and probably took an hour. The last bus, the one from Mattapan to the Museum, doesn’t seem to be particularly regular, so using it in the morning and the more reliable stuff at the Braintree end seems to be a good option.
Arriving at the Museum, I purchased a map for $2 and started walking. I joined the Skyline trail at the top of Great Blue Hill, and walked to the end. The trail passes through all sorts of different forest, mostly with lots of rock. The was lots of wildlife, the highlight for me being a deer running past me. I only happened to see it, since it was surprisingly quiet. Others included a snake, various birds, and a hard to photo snake. It is becoming clear that a little mono/tri-pod would be a good complement to my new zoom lens.
Along the way there were numerous views of Boston’s skyline (hence the name I guess…). Boston is incredibly green seen side on. The trail has some steepish bits, but is pretty friendly, as were the people I saw along the way. There have been various fires over the years (presumably more often at Burnt Hill), so there isn’t much undergrowth in some places. This made is easier to see the millions of chipmunks!
At the other end of the trail I walked all the way to Quincy Jones T stop. There is a 238 bus that goes past the end of the trail, but only every hour on the weekends. It was a pretty long day, probably more to do with Daves ‘T’ party last night, so I rewarded myself with burgers with habanero cheese for dinner, thus replacing any calories burnt during the day. The photos are here.
So here I was, driving through the White Mountains after my late night drive across Maine, and I see some billboards saying “Mt Washington Auto Road”. Being the curious type I thought this sounded like a tourist opportunity to spend a few dollars from the comfort of my car. At this stage I hadn’t made the connection with the stickers I’d seen in various places…
After paying my $20 I did click, since my drive pack included the sticker and a CD to listen to on the way up and down. I must have been driving slow since I ran out of CD before I ran out of mountain both ways. I was stopping every two seconds to take a photo however…
The road is very old, and has evolved from a horse drawn cart track which took four hours, to a road with a race that takes seven minutes. There are also people who like to set records for going up in novel ways, such as walking backwards (Goons anyone?).
Unfortunately it was cloudy and very windy at the top. Visibility was something like 20 meters and it was hard to stand still to take photos of nothing. Absolutely worth the trip!
I arrived late on Friday evening, after the visitor center had closed. I manged to find my way to the summit of Mt Cadillac on my way to the campsite. At 400 or so metres it’s the highest on Mt Desert Island and had great views of smog from Boston and New York, with some nice scenery of the surrounding countryside behind.
I moved on to the “first in first served” campsite, and found a nice piece of dirt to call home for the next few days. The next day was time to conquer some of Acadias massive peaks in the west, but not before a little coastal walk around Ship Cove near my campsite. The coastline in that area is beautiful! I noticed that I was taking photos with less sky in them, the foregrounds are beautiful too!
Packing bottles of water and a few sandwiches, and of course my faithful camera, I set off on a trek along the edge of Long Pond (pond = lake), and up and over the top of two of the peaks. Every man and woman and both of their dogs were there in the lower parts, not that it was crowded, every one just seems to use the national parks as big dog walking areas. This is one of the views, complete with the contrails that appear everywhere in the USA.
After my four hour walk I was thoroughly wasted and smelly. Thankfully there are places to swim (some ponds are water supply so aren’t swimmable) such as Echo Lake, where I had a dip in my undies and a nap in the sun before it disappeared behind the cliffs. I took a roundabout way home, and happened past Thurston’s Lobster Pound, where they show you the crayfish and then whisk it away to be cooked. Mmmm yummy and cheaper than in Kaikoura by miles.
The next day was another hill, this time on the east side of the island, and driving around the roads there. I didn’t have a bike with me. If I had there are heaps of carriage roads just for bikes and walking, very friendly for those not able to walk up the trails. I was surprised at the trails in places, with very steep climbs and a bit of scrabbling needed, just what I like. Some of the steeper bits were fashioned into lovely granite staircases, a lot of effort to build but very easy to walk up and down…
The last thing I did before leaving was to drive around some of the park roads, stopping at various ponds, streams, and other wonderful looking vistas, such as this pond…
After walking and driving around a lot of roads I was feeling Acadia’d out and thought I could squeeze some more out of my quickly disappearing weekend, I headed off the island and east, in a mad dash for New Hampshire before it was too late…
I continued my efforts to be a combination tourist/local by making a trip out into Boston harbour today. It has a whole bunch of islands, some of which were used for strategic defence in the mid 1800’s. There is a ferry service out there; a cat that goes pretty fast compared to what I’m used to…
Fort Warren is on Georges Island, and is impressive with a massive volume of granite and brick used in its construction. Note the very nice granite staircase… and this was just for a foward defence point, not fancy officers quarters or anything.
The fort has some really cool dark passages. I wandered down one using my camera flash to find an old powder magazine. A huge room totally isolated so it wouldn’t blow up unexpectedly, they used to line the walls with timber so no sparks could be generated when people brushed the walls with their finery.
One of the more recent additions to the harbour island visit points is Spectacle Island, which once had a rendering factory and was then a dump for Boston. During the Big Dig, they buried it under the excavated dirt, and turned it into a 150ft high island with trees. For now it looks very new, kind of the opposite of some of the ‘artificial’ lakes in NZ, but in a few years when the trees grow it’ll be lovely. Apparently it’s a pretty good spot to watch the sun set behind the city as it is now…
Last week Nick, Michelle, Ewan and myself travelled the Otago Central Rail Trail for four days by bicycle. It’s an old railway (now unused like many sadly) which has been converted into a cycle and walking track for use by the public. We covered 140km in the four days, enjoying pub food and freezing southerly winds along the way.
Phew! I have now been to the top of Australia, all 2281m of it. I know it’s a little low but we did have to walk a whole 9km along a pretty flat road to get there. At the top was a sign informing us about how they changed added the ‘z’ to the name in 1997 due to some typographical error when it was named after some Polish guy in the 1800’s.
edit: for some informed information on the Polish connection have a look here
Needless to say the views were excellent and the day was well spent, and we saw a fox! Photos here.
Today I climbed up to the summit of Mopra, which is a ‘short’ walk from Siding Spring Observatory, where I’ve been observing this week.
I don’t have any photos of the peak from a distance yet, but it’s a steep rocky pillar with more than its fair share of rock scrambling needed. The image below is part of where I climbed…
More pics here.