Thursday 9th February
The most common comment heard over the past weeks is the lamenting of our current summer. To be fair although it hasn’t quite stood up to summers past and with a few weeks to go before we head into Autumn it’s highly unlikely we will see a consistent period of hot and settled weather. This then begs the question…do we only enjoy our days when the weather is favorable to us?
As Forest Gump once opined ” Life is like a box of chocolates”. You never know what you’re gonna get.” We should enjoy our days regardless of what the weather is doing, in fact we should be thankful for every day that we get with this having been brought home to us on a personal level recently. Although the weather plays a huge part in safely getting into the outdoors, it should never stop us from exploring or adventuring so long as we manage the risks and are prepared for it.
As a family our entry into 2017 has been a sedate one, especially when compared to what we did last year and the planning that went into it. We have undertaken a few day hikes around local trails and last weekend did an overnight hike up into the back basin of the Remarkables where we experienced some extreme weather with a bit of rain and gale force winds. Although the forecast did have winds gusting at times we were confident in our equipment and ourselves that it was a managed risk.
The walk up the skifield and over into the back basin was uneventful. It was only as we hit our ideal overnight spot that the wind strength made us reconsider our position and we headed further down into the basin for shelter. Upon a flat piece of ground at around 1900m overlooking the tarns, the Nevis and Doolans valleys below we set about pitching the tents as the sun was dropping over the horizon with dark clouds approaching. The wind speed was increasing and the gusts were becoming more ferocious however we had the tents up and we were comfy cooking dinner in the vestibule of the boys tent as darkness overcame daylight. We then settled in for what would be a noisy yet exciting night.
By late evening it was apparent that the weather forecast with wind speed was slightly off. Although the girls tent may have appeared slightly apprehensive after the first few big gusts blew through we were confident the tents would hold ( they were alpine tents after all ) so we settled in as best we could for some sleep and an early awakening to view the sunrise.
The wind gusts ebbed and flowed throughout the night. You could hear the roar in the distance as the next one came over the ridge and then hit the tents a few moments later. It would then settle for a short time before the cycle repeated. The kids coped remarkably well with BB sleeping most of the night ( he can sleep through most things ) although KK being a lighter sleeper was woken from time to time by the sounds of winds hitting said tent. We awoke to a lull in the early hours with the thought the forecasters finally had it right but it resumed a short time after.
With daylight breaking we awoke and opened the tents to not only continued gusting winds but to a magnificent sunrise that made the uncomfortable night worth the effort. Noelle was up and getting some awesome shots followed by a quick discussion about our plan for the morning. A front was due to come through later that day with winds increasing ( really? – they were already gusting ) so a decision was made to decamp and be on the move within the hour.
Getting the tents down one by one was easier than expected and by 07.30am we were on the move heading for the ridge line moving over glacial rock and winter snow drifts that had not seen enough summer weather to completely disappear. Getting over the ridge line proved to be challenging given the strength of the wind but once over it eased slightly as we head down into Curvey Basin where we met a lone hiker headed up in the direction we had come from. A few words were exchanged and we continued down towards where we had left our vehicle which we reached around 9am. As we descended off the mountain the sun was shining over Queenstown below, a reminder of the weather differences between 2000m and 400m.
As we had decamped earlier than expected we treated the kids to a hot chocolate and croissants for breakfast at our local bakery and arrived home around 10am.
We had advised friends of our intentions before we left and although they thought we were game ( mad was another word used ) it was a managed risk as there are always variables to consider. We took the proper equipment, our tents we had complete confidence in ( Macpac Minaret’s which are pretty much bulletproof ) and most of all we made decisions based on experience and our safety..
Sure the weather may not have been the best we could have had but if we had waited for the perfect day, well I’m confident we would still be waiting…and waiting and ……… If we wait for perfection or that perfect day to achieve our goals we may never get the opportunity. Too many people wait for the right moment before starting to live their life ..
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain
As for the front……it hit home around 1pm with heavy wind and rain.
Roll on 2017
We will be looking to post once a week on a Thursday covering a range of travel and adventure related opinions.