Hunting for Hobbits!

By September 8, 2016 Uncategorized No Comments

Camp has been outstanding so far. There have been a few really windy days up at the Snow Farm, and last night we got an amazing snow storm that literally tore flags off the poles, the winds were so high. So in addition to skiing, a couple of us decided to throw in a long run when the weather looked like it might be less than ideal up on the Farm. Turns out, it was an amazing day both on and off the mountain!

Matt and I sending it down the trail (photo from Andy Newell)

Matt and I sending it down the trail (photo from Andy Newell)

Matt, Andy, Ben and I went on this adventure run up the Matukituki river valley. It ranked as one of the best distance workouts of my life! I’ve never seen such varied terrain within a 3.5 hour run, and the colors and mountains were so vibrant! So, this post is mostly photos of one of the most beautiful runs on earth.

Watch out for sheep and river crossings!

Watch out for sheep and river crossings!

The drive up to the parking lot was pretty exciting in and of itself. We had to stop a few times for cattle and sheep, and we plowed through small rivers about 7 times on the winding dirt road. There were also a ton of waterfalls coming out of the rocks like veins on either side of the valley.

See the waterfalls running down the mountain?

See the waterfalls running down the mountain?

Not a bad view for a parking lot!

Not a bad view for a parking lot!

The forecast called for showers and a slight chance of hobbits. Is it super dorky if I was humming the Lord of the Rings theme song while running over rocks along the base of the mountains where the movie was filmed?

Matt, Andy and Ben at the start of our run.

Matt, Andy and Ben at the start of our run.

Taking my rain coat off since it got pretty sunny and warm! (photo from Andy)

Taking my rain coat off since it got pretty sunny and warm, even by the river! (photo from Andy)

Matt and Ben along the flats.

Matt and Ben along the flats.

We started our run up the left side of the river, where it’s more common for hikers and runners to come. There was a trail, but since it was wide open and grassy fields, we could run wherever we wanted to! It was a “choose your own adventure” kind of day.

Andy hiking up part of the rocky section.

Andy hiking up part of the rocky section.

Even more waterfalls along the river! We could run anywhere we wanted.

Even more tiny waterfalls along the river! We could run anywhere we wanted. (photo from Andy)

The guys crossing one of the sturdier bridges.

The guys crossing one of the sturdier bridges.

Smaller river crossings.

Smaller river crossings.

We had a number of smaller streams to hop over, and we managed to stay pretty dry until we hit a boggy section. Between dodging cows and dodging puddles, we ended up getting our feet pretty wet anyways!

Checking out one of the huts you could camp in.

Checking out one of the huts you could camp in.

After we scoped out the Aspiring mountain cabin, which had a really cool stone fireplace, kitchen, bunk rooms and drying racks, we headed up into a forest section. It was basically an enchanted forest, with brilliant shades of green everywhere that a camera just couldn’t capture. Water was dripping from moss covered trees and vines, birds calling through the forest, and the whole scene felt extremely tropical for winter!

Andy running through the forest!

Andy running through the forest!

Matt on one of the swinging, "Indiana Jones" style bridges.

Matt on one of the swinging, “Indiana Jones” style bridges.

There were a number of swinging bridges consisting of two side-by-side wooden planks covered in chicken wire, with hip-height steel cables running the length of the bridge. They were narrow and rickety and very “Indiana-Jones”, and it was impossible to cross without getting bounced or swung around!

We stopped and turned around when we got to the open section looking towards Mt. Aspiring. (photo by Matt)

We stopped and turned around when we got to the open section looking towards Mt. Aspiring. (photo by Matt)

It was really tough to turn it around, but when we eventually started back, we decided to make what could have easily been an out and back into a loop. We crawled underneath one of the cow fenced, forded a river, and then made our own path on the other side. We ended up getting pushed right to the river’s edge by the woods, so we did a mix of rock hopping and climbing and then some bush whacking.

Rolling under a barbed wire cow fence...

Rolling under a barbed wire cow fence…

The river crossing got pretty deep in the middle, but we all made it across ok!

The river crossing got pretty deep in the middle, but we all made it across ok!

Ben doing some rock hopping along the river's edge.

Ben doing some rock hopping along the river’s edge.

Pretty sure we found a possum hole in the rock. Ben here pretending to be the possum.

Pretty sure we found a possum hole in the rock. Ben here pretending to be the possum.

At one point, I was crawling through a muddy, rocky hole underneath an electric cow fence thinking “wow, is this awesome”. That might be a skewed sense of what an awesome adventure is, but I really enjoyed bombing around through the woods with the guys!

Andy and Matt checking out one of the many cow skeletons we came across on the other side of the river.

Andy and Matt checking out one of the many cow skeletons we came across on the other side of the river.

We had to check out some of the cow skeletons we found on the way back because they were perfectly white and some were really intact. It was a little creepy and a little fascinating.

The last big swinging bridge!

The last big swinging bridge!

Me, Matt, Ben and Andy!

Me, Matt, Ben and Andy!

After we finished, we jumped in the freezing cold river to ice our legs before driving back to town! It was a sweet adventure and I’m really glad I got to see more of the Wanaka area. Stay tuned for more posts and photos to come!