The intrepid trapper: Week seven – 20-24 February

Day 21 – Mid-Pohangina trapline service

And just like that it was time to service the Mid-Pohangina trapline again. I will admit that this is not my favourite. Apart from the fact that a 4WD is needed to get around the farm, the first couple of kilometres involve puttering through a muddy, pooped, swampy paddock, before jumping a fence and making our way up the Pohangina River. This river will of course be problematic when it rains, and will no doubt be super cold in winter. Furthermore, the track is not maintained and runs along the edge of steep drop-offs or slips. Deer running down the mountain exacerbate the slippery areas and erode the track. Some areas are quite overgrown and I still have a niggle in my neck from our previous trip when I walked straight into an overhanging tree stump.

Nina and I met early in Palmy, drove to Ashhurst where we met up with Ian for the drive to Kim’s farm. The temperature dropped the previous night, and was still cool in the morning. It was also rather windy at our place, and by the time we reached the farm, the sun was out (apart from a thick bank of cloud on the mountain), the wind was still reasonably fresh, but the temperature was okay.

Ian came along to show us the locations of the traps on the farm side (true left) of the river, as well as doing some track clearing. On our previous trip, we searched for them, but couldn’t find any. The area is between the river and a bluff/ridge, but little creeks, trees, ongaonga and lots of windblown trees, stumps and branches are scattered everywhere and tall grass, flax and toitoi make it hard to see where one is going. Add to that rocks and trenches and uneven ground, and it makes for slow, arduous progress. We nearly stepped on a wasp’s nest while trying to make our way through the dense growth.

Once we finished bundu bashing to find the first four traps, we had to cross the river. It looked okay from the top, but of course it is a different story standing right next to it. We cross at one of the wider spots, which is usually more shallow and therefore safer. Still it was a bit over my knees in spots and each time I lifted my foot, the pull of the water would pull my foot downstream. It was still fairly okay, but just to be safe and to ease my nerves, I held onto Nina.

The traps on the flat area on the true right of the river again had the most action. On each side of the river we killed a hedgehog, and on the true right we also killed our first weasel, which was quite exciting. Crossing the Piripiri River I could rock hop. Not that it mattered, as I had wet feet already.

We made our way up the mountain and into the valley on the narrow track with too many dodgy spots for my nerves. The traps were baited with dehydrated dried rabbit the previous time, and again in more than 50% of the traps, the bait were either missing (eaten by mice?), or it was completely mouldy. I am of course a total amateur at this, but to me it would seem that the dehydrated rabbit might be a waste of money. The climate is probably too humid, and/or the rabbit is not dry/dehydrated enough?

We rebaited all the traps with eggs which Ian brought along. Carrying 36 eggs on difficult terrain with some river crossings is risky business, so I took rabbit bait along, just incase one of us arsed over and broke all the eggs.

The muddy patches and little stream crossings were more muddy and some areas that had been dry on some of our previous trips, were now also muddy. We heard deer again higher up, roughly in the same spot as where I heard it last time.

The trip back turned into a bit of a race. It was pedal to the metal and in places I had to break into a few steps of jogging to keep up.

After crossing the rivers, and back in the flats on the true left again, we tried to follow the track Ian showed us, and marked it to some extent with pink tape, but I’m quite sure I might not find the way again next time.

Disappointing that we are not getting more pests up the mountain, apart from the odd rat. Maybe the pests haven’t discovered the traps yet, there’s not enough food for them, or there might be some other explanation we do not yet know about.

Day 22 – Jock’s farm trapline service

Another big day for us, covering at least 12kms with 750 elevation – similar to Mid-Pohangina (11km, 625 elevation).

It’s been three weeks since our previous service, so we headed out to Jock’s to check the traps on his farm. Since we cannot expect the farmer to take us around on his quad bike every time we service that line, we opted to walk to see how long it takes. We managed to do it in 4.5 hours, but that was going at quite a clip. And in good weather; warm, no wind or rain, just a calm, sunny day.

We met with Jock before we set off, and also dropped off 20 traps in his shed that will be deployed in the bush behind his hut at a later stage. Some work needs to be done in this area first, as it’s all overgrown.

After a short little downhill to cross two streams, the track goes uphill for the most part until we reached the hut after 4k. Being that high up the mountain, and being wet from sweating, it was quite cold. We stopped for a quick bite to eat, and some much needed water.

Going back down the mountain, the wind was less and it quickly became very hot again. We rebaited all the traps with eggs, as some of the dehydrated rabbit was missing or mouldy again. One trap was knocked down the bluff and had to be retrieved, but the one we hid in the ongaonga to stop the cattle from knocking it into the wetland, stayed put. It is a bit challenging to service though, and unfortunately (fortunately!) it also contained a dead hedgehog, making the whole process of servicing it even more tricky.

We numbered all the traps to respond to the numbers on TrapNZ, and between traps 24 and 25 we saw two deer only a few metres away, dashing off further into the bush when they saw us. The final stretch through a paddock, we had to walk part a few heifers. Initially they approach us, but then proceeded to carefully watch us until we disappeared over a small rim.

All up, we caught five hedgehogs and one rat.

Day 23 – Travers’ pine forest trapline service, DOC Pohangina Base trapline service, trap checking and building

The trapline on Travers’ farm was new to me. It was in a beautiful pine forest with streams and ridges. The farmer already had some traps in the forest from various other sources and projects. Ian set up a few more traps with the farmer a few weeks ago, and the whole trapline is now part of our project in terms of servicing and recording data.

Ian brought his dog with and near the Te Ano Whiro Stream (after checking the first five traps) we saw three deer which of course set the dog on a chase. Two went to the right and another one dashed upstream with the dog short on its heels. Earlier we could hear the deer ‘bark’, which sounded like they were on the other side of the stream up on the ridge. It may have been the two others we saw earlier, or maybe just an echo.

We also saw a pair of falcons perched on a tree in the middle of the stream. They are not big birds, and Ian mentioned that stoats sometimes go in the nest and attack the young, other times the falcons would catch the stoats. Payback, baby.

On our way up to the highest point on the trapline, we passed a wallow hole which might be used during the roar by deer to ‘cool down’. I’ve never heard the animals during the roar, but apparently it is earth shattering when you are close-by.

The weather was good, calm in the forest and just a light wind on the ridge facing Mid-Pohangina way. It would seem that the wind always blows in this valley.

All up, we only caught two hedgehogs on this trapline. Trap #16 has the nails to hold the bait (often an egg) on the wrong (entrance) side. Not sure how that slipped through quality control! Haha.

Afterwards we drove to the DOC Pohangina Base to service the line there ahead of our project launch which was also happening at the base the following day. These are all double traps. The second one killed both a rat and a stoat, but there was nothing in any of the other traps, which is always a bit disappointing.

Ian was cutting and clearing the track as we went, to make access slightly better for guests who wish to see a trapline in action.

Following that we went to Ian’s for a hot drink, a quick bite to eat, and some trap checking and building for the remainder of the working day.

Day 24 – Launch of the Southern Ruahine Kiwi Habitat Restoration Project

After work the past few days, I was still busy making wee kawakawa balm samples as gifts for all the delegates at the launch. The leaves have been seeping in grapeseed oil (cold extraction) for nearly a week before it was gentle heated to 70 degrees Celsius to extract the final goodness. I then strained the oil and added the beeswax.

On top if that, I also offered to make some gluten free cake to accompany the cake Nina made for the event. That ended up to be the only thing I could eat, and I believe there were at least one other person who also had a gluten allergy. It remains to be a very unfortunate allergy to have, as most people don’t recognise it as a problem, and hence don’t take it seriously. With celiac disease, the food should ideally not even be on the same table.

We arrived a bit before 3pm to help if help was needed, and I quickly showed Gerry the first bit of the trapline. Afterwards, we pitched the event banners, and the guests, board members, and other team mates arrived.

It was great to meet some colleagues and board members whom I’ve only ever heard the names of. Drinks were served and guests were mingling, when the official proceedings got underway at 4:30. Selwyn was the compere, Rani talked about the team and their work on the eastern side, Ian talked about our team and work on the western side, and a representative from DOC said the few words. Finally Stewart and Arapera handled the cutting of the cake, after which food and more drinks were served.

Guests who were keen, were taken into the bush to the first trap, and Ian talked everyone through the ins and outs of trapping. Media representatives were there to cover the event, and a write-up from Stuff can be read here.

Around 6pm the proceedings officially came to an end. Pack up and cleanup followed and by about 7pm when we were all out of there.

Everything went smoothly and well, I think, but unfortunately not many farmers attended. They are instrumental to the success of the project, and it would have been a good opportunity to acknowledge and thank them.

The intrepid trapper: Week four – 30 Jan – 2 Feb

Day 10 – Knights Track, Toka Peak to near Tunupo Peak

It was a beautiful Sunday morning when we set off to Limestone carpark for another trip along Deerford and Knights Tracks, and up the mountain. Jonathan came up from Wellington, and Gerry offered again to help carry traps up the hill, both as volunteers. Since we only had three frame packs to carry traps, Gerry took my two traps, and I carried  all our snacks, water, warm clothing and safety gear.

The weather forecast looked favourable, and since we still needed to ground-truth the ridge between Toka and Tunupo Peaks, this seemed like a good opportunity. During our previous attempt, it was drizzly, super foggy and quite cold. And that was only three weeks ago. That is the nature of the mountain beast in NZ.

The steep uphill hasn’t miraculously flattened one bit. The relentless hill just goes up and up without respite to the top of Toka Peak, and beyond. Walking up the mountain with a heavy pack is, of course, slow going. It took a couple of hours to reach the place from where we had to start dropping off the traps (trap #15-10) and bait them. Some of the traps we set out were above the tree line already, in the dense leatherwood.

Once we got rid of the weight of the traps, we moved a bit easier as we headed further up the mountain. Another kilometre or so, brought us to the top. Once on the ridge, it is another few hundred metres to reach Toka Peak. The temperature immediately dropped, and I had to add a couple of layers, especially since we were soaking wet from sweating going up. The wind was also quite cool, which didn’t help. But, all things considered, it was actually very good up there – no adverse weather conditions.

We started ground-truthing when we reached the ridge and set a waypoint on Topo maps every 100 metres as the crow flies. A good few climbs on the ridge kept our hearts pumping and lungs burning. And a few steep clambers up and down on steep, tricky terrain, really engaged the attention. The ‘track’ is almost non-existent and unmarked, with leatherwood and tussock to walk through and over.

By the time we had marked twenty spots, we decided to turn around. It was already two in the afternoon, and we still had to make our way back along the ridge and down the mountain. After a quick snack (we left our sandwiches in the car), we started heading back the way we came. We were going at a reasonable clip, and it still took more than three hours (without stopping) to get back down the mountain. Every single step is a step down. Apart from a couple of super small and short wee uphills, there’s nearly nothing that is not a quad buster.

On the way up, I managed to go through both streams dry-footed, which was a welcome change to a usual day. But going back, I stepped on a loose rock at the last stream about half a kilometre from the car, and managed to get both my feet soaking wet. Yet again. No mercy for the wicked.

We arrived back home a bit before seven, and after sorting the animals, I was ready to go to bed. But of course we still needed to make dinner, finish cooking the preserve I was going to do during the day, get ourselves clean and myself sorted for work on Monday. I only managed to get into bed by midnight, and with the heat and wind, sleep wasn’t very flash, so I knew I’d be starting the new new week tired already.

All up, we covered 16km, with 1600m elevation.

Day 11 – Cone Creek

We met at the usual spot in Ashhurst, where Ian picked us up to collect 17 new traps from Ryman Residents. Afterwards we drove out to Ian’s farm to check that everything was working as it should, and spray-paint them with our logo.

It had been overcast when we woke up, but by the time we met in Ashhurst, the clouds dissipated and the mercury started rising already. By midday it was blazingly hot. Even with all the car windows open, we still arrived in a dam of sweat at Jim’s place in the small town of Apiti.  Driving out to his farm, some clouds started to roll over the mountain from the east, but they were few and far between overhead.

We drove all the way to just above Jim’s private hut, named Edelweiss, from where the trail starts. Luckily Jim offered to help carry traps and show us the way. Despite having been up the creek to ground-truth some of it, I wouldn’t know be the best route to take.

The four of us each carried two traps, and Ian had an extra one under the arm that was dropped at the first spot. Luckily most of the walk is in the forest so we were sheltered from the sun. I was a bit sunburnt from the day before, and was happy to be under the canopy of the trees.

Slowly but surely we were making our way up the creek, criss-crossing through the water. One by one we dropped the traps off, until the first nine were all in place. On the way back for a second round we baited, tagged and recorded them.

Back at the ute, we had a quick bite to eat, before setting off with another batch of two each, so another eight traps. This time we had to pass the first nine traps before we could start dropping off the new batch.

It is quite slow going, as the track is rather technical with heaps of fallen trees to clamber over. Not to mention all the stream crossings, slippery rocks and other obstacles. I managed to step on a slippery rock in one such stream-crossing and gave my shin a good knock on a sharp rock, which developed a massive bump and turned all shades of purple by the evening. Finally we reached the spot for trap number 17, our final destination for the day. We turned around and on the way back, baited, set, and tagged all the traps.

It was after six before we got back to the ute. Nina and I checked two traps on the farm (we checked the previous week) that was en route, and found a hedgehog in the one. After Nina cleared it out and reset the trap, we were on our way. The hilly drive through the farm also takes a bit of time, before we headed home, dropping off Jim in Apiti and driving back to Palmy.

Another very long day, and quite challenging to boot.

Day 12 – Jocks and Pohangina Base

I have not met farmer Jock before, as I only started working at ENM after Ian and Nina had already met with him.

Nina and I met bright and early (7am) on another beautiful, warm, day, got a cup of take-away coffee before we were off to the farm to check the traps. Despite roadworks, and slow speed limits on the way, we arrived a few minutes earlier than agreed at the farm. Farmer Jock heard us coming, so came down on his quad bike from the house to where we parked.

Nina introduced us, and while I was still thinking we might be walking around the farm to check on the traps, farmer Jock offered to take us around with his quad bike.

With bait, gloves, spanners and tongs at the ready, we were off. I haven’t been on a quad bike much (and have never driven one) before, but sort of knew what I was in for. Some of the places we went seemed quite steep or at too much of a lean, and if you’re not used to it, it feels a bit scary at times. But it was obvious farmer Jock knew what he was doing, so I needed not worry at all. And he is very entertaining, as well as knowledgeable about farming and the environment.

We started checking the traps, and quite a good few of them had killed something. Mostly it was hedgehogs, but also a few rats. In one of them, only the head of the rat remained. Something else got hold of the body and ate everything – bones, guts and all, or dragged it away.

Being on the slope of the mountain, we went further and further uphill, until we reached his private (hunter’s) hut. From here it did not seem too far to the top of the mountain, and Jock offered to take traps as high as he could with his quad bike, for the line on top of the mountain. This will save us a lot of effort, which I for one am very grateful for.

The hut has a beautiful view down the mountain, and is well equiped. Jock showed us around while we checked the two traps at the hut. The firewood for the hut comes from a huge old fallen tree (totara?) that they dragged up the mountain. Each year they saw off a ring to split to provide wood for the year. I quickly used the loo – with a lovely view! – before we started heading down the mountain through paddocks, and towards a more sheltered, forest area. Jock has quite a few trees and sheltered areas for his sheep, including streams and wetlands to ensure his stock is well looked after.

Some steep ups and downs, a few lessons in tree identification, and weeds and feed, and we had made it back to the farm house a bit after lunchtime. Jock gave us a few faulty traps that needed fixing, and showed us his fridge with deer that was shot recently.

A good day, great weather, entertaining company and a good few kills. Roughly every third or fourth trap had some or other pest and all up we got 10 hedgehogs and 2 rats.

After finishing up at Jock’s, we drove to Pohangina Fieldbase to check the trapline there. Over the 15 traps, we ended up with another 5 hedgehogs and 2 rats.

This trapline follows the edge of the bluff, and at one point, Nina showed me a viewpoint in a clearing, with Ski Station just across the gorge from where we access the Mid-Pohangina trapline. The latter was on the agenda for the following day.

Unfortunately this trapline is also somewhat overgrown (which seems to be the norm), but one can’t really get lost; you with either end up in the gorge or in the road.

Near the end of the trapline we took a shortcut out to the road for the walk back to the car.

Day 13 – Mid-Pohangina

Back to the Mid-Pohangina trapline to check the traps for the first time after deploying them some three weeks ago. Arriving at the farm gate, some sheep were being mustered into a different paddock, and we had to wait a couple of minutes before getting access. The rough 4WD road through a few gates took us to the furthest point we can drive to. The walk from the ute across the farm and down into the valley to the start of the Ruahine Forest Park is about 1.6km, with some decent elevation.

Since we deployed traps along the river in the last few hundred metres towards the park, trap-work started as soon as we crossed the river. With the lack of rain the past few weeks, the river is even lower than when we deployed the traps.

This track is fast becoming a familiar sight, but some of it remains a bit nerve-wracking. One particular scree slope looks like it has become a way for deer to dash down the mountain, exacerbating the erosion. My worst nightmare is slipping on the slippery slope and sliding off the mountain. Sidling up the valley remains a steep and exhausting climb, including some hairy bits.

A couple of traps were set off which could have been due to tree branches falling on them, or deer kicking them accidentally, or whatever other random reason. In some, the bait disappeared mysteriously, so we had to rebait them. But a few had killed rodents – four hedgehogs and two rats. One was still quite fresh. Poor bugger.

The rope we attached to a tree the previous time, was luckily still there. The trees hanging over the track was unfortunately also still there, and with a cap on, I could not see that it was perfectly positioned at the exact level of my head, so I walk straight into it, knocking me back on my arse. I heard something that sounded like a crack and hoped it was the branch. A couple of days later my neck was still sore, probably (hopefully only) from the knee-jerk reaction, causing some tightness in my neck muscles.

I was quite surprised at how steep uphill the last few traps were. Somehow I had wiped this out of my memory. Once at the far end, it was just a matter of getting back to the ute. Servicing traps take up quite a bit of time, so going back was a notably quicker.

Back at the ute, it was very warm, as it has been the past few weeks. On the drive back to Palmy, we had lunch. We finished a little bit earlier, which was a welcome change to our routine.

I will not be working the following day, which will be Nina and Ian going back to Knights track to deploy the last few traps up the mountain, and checking the trapline as a whole so far.

The intrepid trapper: Week one – 10-13 January

This week I started at a new job – as a trapper for Environment Network Manawatū, working on the Southern Ruahine Kiwi Habitat Restoration Project. Since it involves going out into the bush and mountains, I thought writing little anecdotes about my days in the outdoors might make for a good memento in the years to come.

Day 1

My first day involved meeting everyone, and getting the admin sorted. So an office day. I guess I won’t be having many of these.

The Southern Ruahine Kiwi Habitat Restoration Project runs over three years, and the aim is to recover threatened species like kiwi, whio (blue duck), native snail, and long-tailed bats, as well as the northern rātā, a forest tree endemic to New Zealand. In a few years, kiwi will be reintroduced to this part of the mountain range where they will hopefully be safe from predators.

We are a six person team, divided into two groups: three to mainly work on the eastern side of the mountain (three strong, young blokes), and three on the western side of the mountain (two girls and a boy, all a bit older). The three of us on the western side are Nina, myself and the project coordinator, Ian.

Day 2

On day two, Nina and I were meant to go ‘ground truthing’ (which in this context essentially means determining the positions where traps will be installed) a section on the ridge between Tunupō and Toka Peaks in the Ngamoko Range. The two of us will be working together for the most part, especially in the mountain. On the farms in the foothills we might be going out separately to check, document, clean and rebait traps. However, on this day, we met at the office from where we drove out together into the Ruahine Forest Park. It was an early start, meeting at 6:30. While Gerry is still on leave for the week, he decided to tag along.

From Sixtus Lodge we followed Knight’s Track to the junction with Deerford Track after which we continued on to Toka Peak (1519m). It was overcast, but otherwise the weather seemed okay. The stretch amongst the trees where we were sheltered from any potential elements, had some stream crossings (no getting away with dry feet on NZ walks), but was otherwise an enjoyable walk. 

It is six kilometres from the carpark to the peak, of which only the first kilometre is flat. The next kilometre is uphill, and after a brief downhill respite, the next four kilometres all go straight up. And reasonably steep to boot. After about three kilometres we were on a spur which we followed all the way to the top.

By the time we reached the leatherwood and were effectively above the tree line, the weather had changed significantly. It started to rain, horizontally, as the wind had also picked up quite a bit. As is typical of the mountain ridges, the temperature also dropped and by the time we reached the peak, it was pretty cold, partially also because we were wet from sweating up the hill, as well as from the rain and walking through tall, wet grass and tussock. If that wasn’t enough, it was also very foggy, to the extend that we couldn’t really see further than a few metres ahead. The whole point was to mark the spots for the traps every 100 metre on the ridge, but there is no point when you are unable to see where you’re going.

We had to call it quits and make our way back down the mountain. The ground truthing will have to wait for another day.

Day 3

On day three we carried traps up the Mid-Pohangina track. The Dannevirke team came over to help, as well as a couple of volunteers – Gerry and Amanda. 

It was another early start, and we all met in Ashhurst at 7am. Since the drive to the start of the day’s track required a 4×4 vehicle, some of us had to catch a ride with the 4WDers. 

We divided the group of eight people into two groups of four each. Four of us, the three girls and Gerry, were going to carry two traps each along the track to the furthest end, deep into the mountain. The other four boys were going to start at the bottom, carrying the traps from the farmers paddock down into the valley, up the river for about a kilometre, before also heading along the track and valley to distribute traps at the previously identified spots marked with pink triangles (at 100 metre intervals). All in all, this trapline from the farm to the Mid-Pohangina Hut will have around 50 traps. We will only know the exact amount once we finish getting all the traps in place.

Unfortunately, by the time we reached the sign that reads Ruahine Forest Park (about 1.5km in), Gerry’s boots had fallen apart. What started off as just an unnoticed loose bit of sole, ended up with the whole boot in tatters. Apart from the knobbly, rubbery part of the sole that came loose, the rest of the sole completely disintegrated. There was nothing left apart from a thin layer of fabric and the flapping rubber. Disappointed, he had to stay behind and help the other four to get the traps to the bottom of the park once he could patch up the pieces with strapping tape and shoe laces. So us three girls set off on our walk into the valley.

Since the farmer cut-off entry to the park, the track has been in disuse. It is not too bad though, and the DOC orange triangles are still in place for the most part. The Mid-Pohangina Hut is maintained by the Palmerston North Tramping and Mountaineering Club, so I guess the track might also get some attention? However, due to slips, some sections of the track are quite eroded, others slipped away, leaving a few hairy sections on the verge of the chasm. Being not particularly good with heights, I found these parts a bit scary. All along we were gaining elevation as the track makes it’s way up the mountain. Carrying heavy wooden traps added to the stress of the sketchy bits, but we made it safely there and back. With the track being in the state that it is, it took us roughly six hours to cover the 10km out-and-back from the Ruahine Forest Park sign. This, of course, included baiting all the traps as we went, including the ones that the boys carried in from the bottom, and placing five monitoring cards (to identify types of rodents in the area) in the middle of the trapline.

Only eight remained to be done the following day – more or less in the middle stretch of the trapline.

We all walked the 1.5km down the river and back up the hill to the paddock, before heading home. It was a good day, with the weather playing along, and low river levels.

Day 4

Another early start, again meeting at 7am in Ashhurst, our team comprised of the six official trappers and again two volunteers: Gerry and Nina’s son Liam this time. 

It rained during the night, so everything was wet. A mist spray and cool wind made us don rain jackets for the first stretch of the walk. This soon became too hot, and being under the canopy of the trees for the most part, we could stay dry, apart from our legs collecting the water from the overgrown grass and ferns.

With all the traps already carried from the car to the Ruahine Forest Park sign, the first 1.5km over farmland and up the river was easier going without the weight of the traps. 

This time six of us carried traps in, while two (Ian and Shawn) remained behind to cut a track through the overgrown farmland. This is to partially avoid having to walk along the edge of the river for a kilometre each time, which is wet, slippery and will be very cold in cooler months. 

After collecting traps, Gerry, myself, Nina and Liam went up ahead, while Rani and Rangiwhera followed. This made carrying far easier, so instead of four people having to carry eight traps, some could only carry one trap each. 

Since I knew what I was in for and the terrain was somewhat more familiar, it felt like we were moving faster than the previous day. According to GPS data, this was not really the case, as it still took us about five hours to cover the 7km out-and-back.

However, I felt more comfortable the second time around and we placed the final eight traps at their assigned spots. Rani fixed one that was assembled incorrectly, and Nina and I baited them all. Bait in these wooden DOC200 traps consists of dried rabbit. Looks a bit like minced up and pressed together beef jerky – boots and all. 

Back at the park border, we met up with Ian and Shawn who walked us out on the new track they cut. We finished a bit earlier than the day before. And lo and behold – one day after Gerry’s boots took a turn for the worst, the same thing happened to Rani. This track is not kind to shoes it seems. 🙂

All up we covered about 35km for the working week, which doesn’t sound much, but with 2300m of elevation and some rough terrain, it certainly made for a pretty good workout.