The Best Bits:
The early morning start to see the sunrise when you’re up high was a great sight. The winds were still relatively strong so the clouds were streaming into the Putara area from the West. It was like watching dry ice flow fast out of a bucket. I wish I had time to film it. Looked magic.
The forested parts were nice on the way up the ridge line. Much like the eastern side mid-way up the ranges.
The best part from a tramping enjoyment factor was the track over Aokaparangi all the way to Alpha (peak). This took you past Maungahuka, Kime, Hector, The Beehives and the dress circle. It provided great views down on to Wellington and the Hutt Valley and further on we got to see the Wairarapa towns all lit up.
Maungahuka I loved. That was my favourite part. I could have stayed there for days if there was fly spray for the hut (massive horse flies). So remote and so many rocks to clamber around on! And photo opportunities everywhere. A magical spot.
Being met at Kime Hut by the cheer squad (of one) that Kerry had arranged. Gave me a great laugh.
High Five with Kerry as we passed Mt Hector at midnight(ish)
Travelling the track with someone you enjoy the company of and can trust if it all turns to custard.
The Worst Bits:
The nature of the track doesn’t allow you to run freely at any stage really. It is really a forced march for 24+ hours. That’s not me.
Losing my water bottle near the start. This meant that I had to ration water all the way to the end. And knowing at Drac Biv that I had to slow right down or else I was going to have severe water and welfare issues. I don’t mind the heat but I need to temper it with water. So I spent the whole day feeling thirsty and dry which was not the best feeling. You know it is bad when you look at gels as a form of moisture (drink).
Breaking both poles (at different locations) meant I had to carry my poles rather than use them. That was costly on quite a few fronts. My feet were so sore from the constant clambering, hopping, jumping, skipping. Anything but shuffling. Shuffling was a relief!
The mud slide of a track coming down off Arete. Why? And always thinking we were further ahead than we actual were. That was causing a few headaches and internal arguments.
And the worst bit was the Marchant Ridge. Totally demoralised me. It felt like I was dangling my feet on the edge of a blender and every so often they would get pinged. All as I wanted to do was shuffle to the finish but you were never allowed to. That bloody Marchant Ridge! Aaarggh!
I’d Compare it to:
Terrain wise I can’t really compare it to anything other than the Tararua tracks on the outer edges. It’s quite unique.
From an effort perspective, it was mentally more draining than the milers I have completed. The milers I could march up the hills and run down, change clothes, have a good feed etc. To put it into perspective I didn’t do the S-K much quicker than I did Northburn 100-mile race.
We completed this unsupported so we were reliant on hut captured water with no pizzas, nachos or subway foot long Italians sitting in a hut for us. So pack loads were higher and no refresh when you hit a hut.
Doing it supported would be a much easier option.
Tips for future S-K’ers:
There is no water between huts so ensure you take enough water with you. Some parts were 6 hours between water stops.
Wear running shoes (or shoes leaning towards tramping) that have more cushioning and support for your feet.
Weather is the determining factor for the S-K. Do not do it in any weather other than good. And that is forecast to stay that way.
Make sure you have proper navigation equipment (new tech and old tech (map & compass)
Make sure you are fit enough. If unsure do it as a 3 day tramp if you want to do the S-K. If you want to sample the highlights then pop in at Otaki Forks and do the tops. I don’t think there is any really gain in doing the section from Putara to Maungahuka. Just a flog to get to the good parts.
Thanks for sharing Paul Stevens.