Thursday, September 24, 2015

The last tramp to Casey's Hut

Thomas, Amy and Josiah 
The ski season had just finished up so we figured it was time to check out a couple of the mountains on the opposite side of the road. So we jumped in the Barina with our flatmate Josiah and made the drive into the mountains. We departed Highway 73 and headed across the Waimakariri River on a rickety looking, but reliable bridge over to Mt White Station. We spotted the Trail head area, so we parked up, sorted our gear and headed in what we thought was the right direction. 

Unfortunately, we were so engrossed in what must have been a very good discussion and missed the actual trail head and jumped head long into the bush up the creek bed. We were suspicious that we may have been not quite where we were meant to be, but pushed on criss-crossing the steam, getting into denser and denser forest, up steeper and steeper terrain. Thinking we might need to redirect, we decided to scramble to a ridge line and get a better view and work out where we were on the map. Yup, we were not where we should have been, so keeping up a confident front for Amy's sake, we forged a new path through the idyllic but thick beach forest and we just all of a sudden popped out on the trail. Don't ask me how, but it was lucky, as a hundred meters or so along the trail it took a sharp right and had we been a bit further into the bush, we would never have come across it. All in all, we were only an hour or so off course, no harm done. 

One could say the rest of the tramp was less exciting after that point, however it was stunning. Just being out for a quick weekend trip with perfect tramping weather. We made it over Binser Saddle and and proceeded along the Poulter River to the hut. We met some usual outdoorsy characters and just chilled out in a beautiful place, not bothered too much by just a few sandflies. We did some AcroYoga and got a well deserved nights sleep. 

The last anyone ever saw of the old Casey Hut
The following day, we had another really nice days walk with an early start getting back to the car after crossing Casey's Saddle and passing some beautiful alpine flats, with tarns and streams, along with views off to some larger surrounding mountains, a glacier and some waterfalls. A slightly sad note, that afternoon once retuning to Christchurch, we headed off to play an evening game of frisbee golf, however that was the last drive the Barina would ever make. A deficiency of oil caused some nasty sounding engine failure. Also the following weekend, we learned that Casey Hut burnt to the ground, so it is quite possible that our trip to the hut truly was the 'last tramp' ever. 

The Barina, the finest stallion a couple could ask for.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Early Season at the top of porters, looking back to Christchurch.
Having just returned from a good European Summer, we jumped right back into winter. And a good winter it was turning out to be right across the mountains in New Zealand. We had season passes for Porters Ski Field just an hour and twenty minutes drive from our house, with plans for a big season. 

Thanks for getting us up the mountain Barina
With our trusty Barina to get us safely to the mountain everyday, we made it up about 15 times over the season. Employing some $10 chains that required a bit of Kiwi ingenuity to recommission, we made it to the mountain no matter what the weather threw at us. 

Thomas doing what he loves.
Trying to make the most of the good conditions, I was able to explore and search out some interesting and heart palpitating features. My particular favorite being the tablet rock at the summit.  Over a few beers after riding one day, I decided would be perfect for a 'rock bonk front flip', worth an attempt at least. I also searched out a few nice drops allowing myself to get airborne, making up for the disappointing jumps in the park this season.

First time ever going inverted.
It was a real escape being able to just leave the city and free the body and soul for a day or so every week. We also often broke up our work weeks and took a day out on the slopes that really kept life nice and balanced. Despite the heavy snow falls in the mountains, the winter was still fairly manageable in town. Lighting the fire up each night and having a few beers made for a pretty casual 'cold and miserable winter' -  Yeah Right!

Thomas and Amy with the mountains to themselves

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

G'Day Australia

The Devos enjoying the view on the Sunshine Coast
Thinking that we were likely going to be heading back off to the Northern Hemisphere very soon, we figured we might as well pop over the ditch and say G'day to the parents and have a little escape from winter for a week in August. It also nearly turned into a bit of a scouting trip, as we had some bad news about my U.S visa application, and we decided we might just move to Australia instead if the U.S was going to keep the doors closed for me. It didn't come to that in the end, but it sure showed us what a nice, casual, Aussie beach lifestyle could have been like. 
Kings Beach
We ducked off from Christchurch on the coolest of NZ winter mornings and happily strode off the plane in Coolangatta around lunchtime to a day that could only be described as perfect. We were staying for a few nights in Kings Beach on the Sunshine Coast and were welcomed with the news that the place was so nice that Mum and Dad had extended our stay. It was just paradise. A beautiful apartment overlooking the beach and park. It was so quiet and peaceful being the off season, but the sun was still warm and the water perfectly refreshing. 

Our days were filled with walking, swimming in the beach, pool and spa, lounging in the sun and me and my dad endlessly kicking and passing the rugby ball back and forth. There is something about being at the beach that makes me just want to sprint, jump, run, kick, dive, swim and generally act like a kid. This quickly led to my ball being stuck high in a tree. I was clambering high up a Norfolk Pine to retrieve my ball, only just realising I was very high and then had to get back down too! All good though.

With two nights in Brisbane in between our beach holidays, we met up with our old flatmate B-rain. We spent the day at the modern art gallery, listing to a free concert on the bank of the Brisbane river, eating the incredible 'craft' burgers of the town and following that with a few beers at a couple of my Dad's favourite craft breweries. 

After brunch up Mt Cootha
Before heading back off to the beach again, we went to table tennis, which is my father's athletic endeavor, one which he can proudly boast that he is still far superior at than his son. We played the rotational tournament and I claimed a few wins, but in the father-son match-up, even with his 40 point handicap, I still didn't stand a chance. Off to Surfers Paradise, a place we holidayed at as a family many times before. Being far more developed compared to the Sunshine Coast, its a bit more image driven here, however the endless golden sand beaches and more powerful surf suited me fine. 

Daddy Devo getting the better of his son.
It was nearly a story or the same old scenario as the Sunshine Coast, beach activities, exploration and good food, drink and company. This time we were based at the Main Beach Holiday Park. There were some angry Plover birds protecting their babies, but once they were shepherded away there was some nice grassy areas to practice AcroYoga. I just can't get enough of this beach lifestyle, especially in the middle of winter.

We took a drive to Burleigh Heads and had a good wander round the headland National Park, with remarkable views back toward the Surfers Paradise skyline. We stopped into Burleigh Brewing and later back in Main Beach we found a nice happy hour to enjoy some beers before some great Indian food for dinner, always worthy of a mention. 

A big thank you to Mum and Dad for spending the week with us and organising an awesome trip. The time we spend together is always entertaining! 

Burleigh Heads looking North to Surfers Paradise.