A Peeling Forest

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

We left Christchurch after Anthony and I grabbed some souvlaki and we’d all grabbed some lunch for the next three days from the grocer, and hit the road hard. Too hard, it turns out, as one of the trailers got a flat. And we had neither spare nor tool to repair, but someone pulled over that happened to have the gear (I, unaware of this, was trying to load the other trailer with Meredith to keep the one as light as possible). A few of us ran the wheel into a nearby town and got a replacement, back on the road and on the way to Peel Forest in relatively short order. We had to walk about half a kilometre to our lodge in the woods; it’s a cool little place which is completely self sufficient other than needing some gas for the stoves and wood for the fire and hot water. It uses a solar system and does have a generator if needed. And, most interestingly, it has composting toilets, which mean that number one and two go in separate places and number two gets the sawdust and haul-in-a-pail treatment. Yummy.

It seems to be that the boys are always sharing rooms now which is convenient in some ways but in other ways sucks because it always keeps us with the same people. Not that I have any objections to any of them, it’s just that I feel like I don’t spend much time with the rest of the group lately. Though we did have a good little shindig after dinner (shish kebab) and I had a bit of a chat with Lauren about the whole Chelsea ignoring me/me interrupting thing and with Katie about some of the drama in the group relating to someone I consider relatively harmless and normal. I think we all had a good time that night though I have enough bites on my legs to rival a shark bite.

The next day came early and for some a little rough, but we got up and went to a rope course in the trees. Well, on the trees and in a clearing. It’s not like a high-forest thing, but it was a lot of fun. We warmed up with a game called “Hawks, Wizards, and Elves” which is basically a team-based rock-paper-scissors, then did a little work on some low ropes that were actually still fun. They have a wild flying fox that’s probably up 100 ft or so and it was a little scary to hop off the ledge and do it. I’m supposed to jump the second highest bungee jump in the world near Queenstown that’s about 400 ft up and from a gondola, and I’m more than a little frightened about that one to be honest. Kristen and I did something called the vertical playground that was a lot of fun and a definite team effort to get to the top, I also did a bit of a handstand on a beam about 20 ft. off the ground, though with a less than graceful ending. A lot of the group tired early and I just wanted to keep going, though my arms did tire.

We left around 1:30 and made our way back to the lodge, where we boys were locked out of our room and away from our food. This was not good as we’d all worked up an appetite and were hungry but we did get to eat by three. We had a group discussion about some of the recent goings-on and enjoyed a bit of sun and warmth before dinner which was very early for those of us who’d been locked out. Oh well. Chris killed a wasp on my plate and another one was back soon after and just about flew in my mouth. It hit my lips just as I was about to say something. Then, some of the group went into town to watch The Holiday, and I hung back here to have a little peace and because I’d seen the movie, and also to catch up on things. It was nice to sit in the lodge with just Albrie and looking up from my computer to see forest and hearing only animal noises and the wind. I also finally watched Walk the Line though we were just at the Folsom Prison gig when everyone started coming back and it got a little harder to hear. We took it pretty easy that night and hung out in the lodge chatting and lounging on couches with the warm fire. Had we known how hot and gross our room would be, we probably would’ve avoided the fire altogether, but it was that or mosquito meat.

The next day was white water kayaking, and real kayaking. We broke into three groups based on confidence in paddling and of course I went for the cocky group. I’ve been instructed how to paddle more than I care to admit (recall the Abel Tasman nazi) and plus, I’m here to have some fun and do some crazy stuff. Of course we were all on the same rapids together, but our guy was spending time showing us how to do some of the harder things like surfing our kayak (I finally got it at the end!) and hanging out in a hole. It’s pretty neat to sit in the rapids with water flowing by like crazy (70m^3/s) and not be moving. Dustin tipped out of his kayak before we even got started, which was pretty funny, and by the end, all of us had taken at least a few tumbles. Brad took one at the top of a rapid and body surfed it down which was pretty wild. We would go back and upriver several times to try to catch waves and have some fun. As Chris put it, you completely got out of it what you put into it, and so I think all of us had a great time. We had a lunch rest midway through our 6 km journey down the river and by the end, there wasn’t a rested arm in the house.

We stopped in town to pick up a few supplies and wandered back for dinner. I was on duty today and we had chili and baguettes for dinner. Some of our river guides came by the site and we learned to play some cricket, did a rugby toss sort of game where two people hoisted a third up to compete with another group doing the same thing and then running down to the edge of our clearing and making a try/touchdown. Red Rover also made an appearance and while I didn’t play much, one of the teams was being decimated and so I joined them late. Within three people I smashed my knee into Amanda’s and while we’re both okay, I think we’ve got some bruises to show for it. Certainly I have a huge bump. In any case, it was a fun evening and we called it a night by midnight, dead to the world. Coming up next, a trip to base camp: Mount Cook and a glacier cruise. Then a hike up to the top and a sleep up there, watching the sunset and next morning’s sunrise.

Peel Forest Photos


Anonymous said...

oh, the memories!!! didn't I tell you to get a good rainjacket :) No matter how bad it ever gets, just think, you could be stuck inside an 8x9 gray cubicle like me :) -joaquin

Anonymous said...

oh, the memories!!! didn't I tell you to get a good rainjacket :) No matter how bad it ever gets, just think, you could be stuck inside an 8x9 gray cubicle like me :) -joaquin