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Welcome to my blog which I hope to develop with some interesting material on ultra running both on the trails and road including reports on races and interesting training runs, views on kit and equipment as well as anything else I find of interest. I love running for adventure, opportunity and well being. Enjoy!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Days 46-47: Hawea River to Frankton

Start: Hawea River (2,567km)
Finish: Frankton (2,667 km)
Distance for the 2 days: 100km
Cumulative distance: 2,667km
Distance to Bluff: 387km

It’s been a great couple of days traversing across to the buzzing south island hotspot town of Queenstown. We’re now just north, in the lakeside suburb of Frankton

From our pleasant spot next to the Hawea River, I finished the Hawea River and Outlet Tracks to take me through to Wanaka. All the running was on gently meandering and undulating waterside trails, and being close to built up areas as well as a Saturday morning, busy with local joggers, dog walkers and cyclists. It was really strange having to share the trail with anyone! I’ve spent so many days with seeing a sole, it really felt weird. The trails took me through to Wanaka, next to the popular watersports lake. It was a scorching summer’s day so Wanaka itself was also heaving with boaters, families and people generally getting in my way (scrooge, booooo….). Wanaka was bustling, but Tango Café had yet to get busy, so it presented a great opportunity to launch a raid for ice cream and chips, which came in generous quantities when they heard what I was up to. With the camera guys hovering around me, the conversation went along the lines of; waitress “are you famous or are doing something crazy?”. Jez replies “does running the full length of New Zealand off road count as crazy?”. The poor girl couldn’t take it all in, and was then looking rather flustered!

I was in town for less than hour, most of that time in the café, and by that time I was definitely ready to move on. The Glendhu Bay Track took me round Lake Wanaka on a deceptively challenging trail, and then I was at the trailhead for the impressive Motatapu Alpine Track, a recently formed route traversing across to Macetown. It was classified as ‘hard tramping’ and it was, but definitely more pleasant that other hard tramping sections which I have felt to be somewhat on the cruel side! I set off with my fast pack at about 4pm after a good feed up from James, the plan being to simply see how far I could go before feeling like crashing, at one of the three huts en route. Well the first, Fern Burn, was too early, but also full of a large family with kids so probably not that suitable anyway. I continued, and soon made the decision to sleep at Highland Creak.

The climb over Jack Hall’s Saddle to get there was memorable. The hills felt special and unique, almost folded and rippling with many spurs. Highland Creek is a brand new twelve bed hut, and I was more than excited on the approach, as it’s the first newer hut I’ve been fortunate enough to stay at. I noticed footprints en route, so I suspected someone else would be there (shock horror, a fellow tramper). I had also been left a ‘Trail Magic’ gift at Fern Burn Hut – a snickers bar. Someone knew I was on the way…. It was a fellow brit and through hiker – Kyle – a really great guy. We had a great evening chatting and sharing trail stories before crashing for an early night. Unfortunately it wasn’t a great night’s sleep; the local mob of possums decided they would raid the outside of the hit. They were charging up and down the roof and verandah causing a right old racket, so Kyle did the honors and went outside and chased the blighters off!

We both got an early start; a 4.30am alarm for 5.30am on the trail. I was hoping to get plenty of distance behind me before it got really hot, and they strategy worked well. There were five 500m (vertical) climbs to negotiate, every one of them testing me significantly given the steepness. I’m finding that whilst I can still climb, the built up fatigue in my legs is slowing me down, so a bit more patience than usual is required. It was an impressive, albeit rather intense route, with the final section being down the bed of the Arrow River. Given how hot it was that was my preferred place to be, and when I found some deep pools I took a full on swim. Heaven. The end of the track was Macetown. I don’t know what I was expecting because I knew it was an un-inhabited ex-mining town, but there really was no one there apart from some speculative weekend gold hunters! For some reason I set my heart on a museum, or a random shop, or anything, please! All I needed was a cold can of coke and an ice cream. No, it was inaccessible by all but 4x4s, and eerily quiet. I stopped for a quick sandwich, but decided not to delay the inevitable final stretch of super-hot hill climbing on the aptly named Big Hill track, to finally get me back to civilization in Arrowtown. It was the hottest of the lot, a battle of the mind to get up there, with my body just wanting to rest in the shade. But a lovely reward at the end, with a stunning contouring section of singletrack before a final descent to Arrowtown.

It was a relief to get back to the van, but everyone was baking hot, not least me. I had a good feed and a rest for a while, catching up with the team, and telling them all about my 24hours of excitement in the hills. I wanted to get some more kilometers in before the close of the day, despite it already being late afternoon, and my body not being particularly enthused. But it wasn’t as bad as feared (it never is), and once I got going I successfully knocked out 17 more kilometers to reach the shores of the massive Lake Wakatipu and our overnight location of Frankton.

Tomorrow I will run a mega-long lakeside section from Frankton to Glenorchy where we will launch for our final paddle of the trip, a crossing of Lake Wakatipu.

Looking back towards Lake Wanaka from Jack's Pass

Happy to be on Jack's Pass

Typical trails of the day

Highland Creek Hut - pukka

with my hut buddy, Kyle

Panning for gold in the River Arrow

Rose's Saddle

Final pass of the day - where I collapsed in a heap for 5mins...


Daniel Weston said...

Another two great days. That hut looks good, shame about the noisy night.

Debs M-C said...

Loving your diaries, Jez. There's going to be a void in a lot of people's lives when you've finished :-)

Mind a post a picture of your calf guard tan! That will raise a few eyebrows when you're back in the swimming pool at home.

Anonymous said...

Does anything beat chips and ice cream?? Great read once again! Helen x

john stobo said...

Keep it up Braggy, not far to go now.Truly amazing what you are achieving and what you are putting your body through. Its been great reading your posts following your journey day to day. See you when you get back.

Well done to your support team as well.


Daniel Wastell said...

Blimmin Possums! Great read as usual Jez, looks like your back to your best, good luck, Dan

Anonymous said...

was awesome to meet you bro! good look on getting to bluff!! so close i can smell it just hit Q-town!!
take it easy

Jez Bragg said...

Kyle, you're a star! I ran Frankton to Glenrochy on the road this morning and just paddled accross to Greenstone. Will run the valley in the morning. Thought I'd do a thorough job! How are you getting to Greenstone? Enjoy your burger in Queenstown!

katie spear said...

Jez, we're loving reading your posts and seeing your photos. It sounds so hard but you're doing amazingly. All the best to Gem, Hilary, Mark and James too. Katie, Jon & Jude xxx

Sue and Antonio said...

Jez, we're thinking of you - many friends here in Mexico are following your blog and wishing you well. You've not far to go now, what a fantastic achievement, inspiring from every aspect. A big hug for you, and for your great team too.
Go for it !!!!! S. and A.

Tom and Kate Cadbury said...

Jez, still following you all the way. Feel like we've been on the epic journey with you, the updates are just amazing and we've got all our kiwi friends reading them too! Last little bit to go......you go for it Jez! Thinking of you and all your team. Lots of love, Tom, Kate, Josh and your friend Bramble! Xxxx

Steven Morris said...

Nearly there Jez ! I look forward to catching up with your progress over my Weetabix every morning, and knowing what it's like when there is no update, I will clearly have to find something else to chat to Nicky about, during breakfast, when you have finished ! Best of luck to you, Mark and Jamie for the final few days and love to Gem and Hils.

Chappers said...

Superhuman stuff mate, every day's blog is inspirational... soak up every minute of the final few days of your incredible experience, when it gets tough remember that you are achieving something us mere mortals could only ever dream of :) Cheering you on every step of the way, best wishes and much love from Chappers, Anna and Noah xxx

Anonymous said...

Jez you are such an inspiration loved following you on this fantastic journey the pics are fantastic nearly at the end!!!!!! Supergran I know has loved hearing all the news & viewing the pics on my I.pad......sending lots of love & hugs from Lansdowne..... Supergran & Eunice xxxx

hugh said...

Well Done Jez. Nearly there...... keep going - fantastic stuff. Have really been enjoying your blogg . All the best Hugh

Gran T. said...

Incredible going Jez. Have followed you all the way on the atlas. It's getting more and more exciting as you near the end. Love to all.
Gran T.

Anonymous said...

We are loving following your incredible adventure. I can't decide if you're amazing or completely crazy!! We are all very proud of your achievement.
Love Lucy, Steve, Millie & Nina xx

p.s. the girls loved hearing about your possums!!

Anonymous said...

What will we all do when you have finished? I am addicted to your updates and in awe of what you and your stunning team are achieving love from one legged London mouse