Climb Every Mountain...
Peak-bagging is something I've read about, where hardy men with strong legs climb a 'Munro' (a Scottish mountain, height over 3,000 feet) before breakfast. I didn't think that genteel retired lady hikers peak-bagged - well, not deliberately...
The Packhorse Hut
You wouldn't meet a more unlikely pair of 'Munro baggers' than my friend and I. We were off up to the Kaituna saddle for a gentle day's hike, mainly over farmland.
Lunch at the Packhorse
We'd have lunch at the stone hut on the saddle (the Packhorse Hut), admire the views, and take some photographs of tussocks and sheep. Then we could gracefully descend and find a nearby gourmet cafe. Nice idea!
Sheep and Tussocks
Hee hee. The Head Gardener (me) slurped her herbal tea, and then had a brilliant idea. There was a 'short side-trip', she assured her friend, which led 'around Mount Bradley'. It started along that poled route - she pointed confidently to the side of a rather bulky adjacent hill.
Just Around Here...
A Really Short Side-Trip
It was a really short side-trip, only taking about an hour and a half. The Head Gardener hadn't actually done the route herself, but hey! How difficult was it to go around something?
Both pairs of hiking legs were in great shape, the day was clear and windless, and it was quite early. Easy as!
Around - or Up?
With no GPS, no map, and after nearly two hours it was obvious that the Head Gardener had got 'it' wrong. The poled route didn't go 'around', it went steadily 'up', while Mount Bradley got bulkier and bulkier.
Mind you, it was a wonderfully picturesque track, winding up spurs and through pockets of New Zealand bush, thickets of Lancewoods, native tree Fuschias, and so on.
Just Follow Me?
Just follow me? Hmm... It soon became obvious that we were not going around the mighty Mount Bradley. So we left the poled route to climb up a steep sheep track, and found a stile on the ridgeline - this was a good sign? Oh dear. The view was beautiful, but where to go down?
We've Come Long Way...
Ha! Time to use some common sense. We stopped and made a decision. Five more minutes, and if we couldn't see any route markers we'd just go back the way we came. And this is what we did. My short side-trip 'around' Mount Bradley had petered out, and we'd pretty much climbed to its summit (at 855 meters a mini-Munro) by mistake. Oh well - another peak in the bag, so to speak!
To the Kaituna Saddle
Footnote for the Not So Foolhardy
There is such a hike which starts from the Packhorse Hut. One does indeed climb up and up, then leave the poled route and make for that stile. Then one drops straight down and joins a return track which leads safely underneath a line of cliffs.
Oops. The whole hike around Mount Bradley takes between three and four hours. It is certainly not a short side-trip, unless one is a mountain runner or adventure racer...
Check the facts before wandering off to go around things. Take a map (or GPS) or a trip guide. As when climbing Mount Everest (hmm...), turn back without shame at a pre-determined time.
Take steps not to get lost - not that we were lost, mind you - in fact we were very much 'on track'...