Monday, 30 July 2012


This weekend I went on a trip with the Otago University Tramping Club to the beautiful Mount Aspiring National Park. On Friday afternoon, we all crammed into 12-passenger vans with our huge tramping backpacks - it was a fairly cozy trip. We made several stops at tiny bars in various towns along the way. At one of the pubs, there was a very patient cat sitting on a barstool that put up with about twenty of us crowding around and petting it. That is something I doubt you would see in a bar at home!

We arrived at the park around midnight. Everyone was fairly tired from the drive, so we quickly set up some tent flies in the carpark and climbed into our sleeping bags. It was a cold night, but I was fairly comfortable in my three layers of long underwear. We were woken up in the morning by the shrill sounds of a bugle and the chilly nip of frost. Since it was dark when we arrived, I hadn't really been able to see our surroundings, so I was amazed when I stood up and was greeted by this view:

After some breakfast, we packed up and headed into they valley of the park. The trail went through a farm, and there were cows and sheep dotting the mountains around us. It was quite a beautiful and relaxing trek; we stopped several times to rest, have some snacks, and throw a frisbee around. About 60 people went on the trip, so we had quite a large group hiking through the mountains.

our group heading out on the trail
the river that we followed to the hut - the water was so blue!
we crossed several bridges like this on a hike later in the day

We arrived at the hut in the middle of the afternoon. The hut was very nice - it had two large bunkrooms and a common room with many tables and room to set up our camp stoves. (Although I must admit, anything would have been a step up from sleeping outside in the gravel carpark the night before.) After resting briefly and claiming a spot for my sleeping bag, I headed out on a short tramp around the hut with my friends Maddie and Ryan. The trail took us through a beautiful forest and out to Pearl Flat, where there was a beautiful view of some glaciers and Mount Aspiring, for which the park is named.

Mt. Aspiring is straight ahead - it was so tall that most of it was hidden in the clouds!
The "ball in the bush" part of Bushball occurred on Saturday night. This year's theme was "Into the Wild," and everyone got dolled-up in their leopard and zebra print dresses and suits (yes, one of the guys had a full leopard suit - pants and all). We had a lovely dinner of spicy pumpkin soup, pasta with marinara sauce, and chocolate caramel bars. We then pushed all the tables to the side and had a lively dance party! Although most people crashed and went to bed fairly early after the day of hiking, it was still a fun night.

Sunday morning, we had a large breakfast of pancakes, eggs, hash browns, toast, and bacon. I helped crack and cook over one hundred eggs, and I got a special chocolate pancake for helping out! We cleaned the hut and then headed out. I don't have any pictures of the hike back because it was raining pretty heavily, and my camera was strapped safely inside my rain-covered bag. We didn't stop on Sunday at all, and made it back to the carpark in less than two hours. After changing into some dry clothes, we packed up and drove home. I slept most of the way back (surprise, surprise!). This weekend was quite an experience - I never thought I'd pack heels in my tramping backpack, but they were put to good use at Bushball! I'm hopeful another tramping trip will happen soon!

(courtesy of Maddie Smith)

(courtesy of Maddie Smith)

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