The Hillary Trail: Week 1

Welcome to week one of “The Hillary Trail” series of my blog, where I will talk about my training for Tramping the Hillary Trail in January. Each week, I plan on doing a walk around Auckland and Talk about my adventures. I will be taking my Camera and snapping photos from time to time and sharing them with you all. I will also use my blog to update you on my Journey Progress, as well as my upcoming training plans.

For the inaugural post, I wanted to talk about starting the Hillary plan, as well as let you know where I am going this weekend (and anyone who wants to come).

This week has been a good one for planning. After making the definitive decision on Sunday to do the HT (btw, I am calling it the HT) I began researching into how I want to do the track. In the end, I think I have decided on doing something quite Ambitious: I am going to camp for most of the trip.

Now, I have had limited experience in camping. Most of my camping was in cabins, and when I was in a tent, it had cots and was huge. So the idea of camping in the woods, likely alone, is an interesting one. Now camping is something I have always wanted to do, so why not try? What is the worse that can happen?

*Cue ominous music*

Anyhow, after doing some research, I settled on a 2 person tent that you can set up quite easily. It’s super light and insanely small. I am going to practice with it on the balcony before taking it out, however… just to be safe. I am also planning on doing a one night trip somewhere in the spring to get a feel for it, and make sure I can hack it… that will be a story I am sure… lol.

Anyhow, luckily one of the big hiking stores in New Zealand was having a sale (of course they are, They always have sales) and I snagged the tent at a pretty decent price. This was also on the heels of buying hiking boots on Saturday, so already I feel like I am going deep into this project.

So, with the Tent, and the Hiking Boots, I feel I have a good start for my equipment needs in January. This weekend though, all I will need are the boots. I have been wearing them throughout the week to break them in, and on Saturday, I am going to walk the Montana Heritage Trail. It is an 8km trek, and 260-meter change in elevation that meanders through the Cascade Kauri Regional Park. This walk is in the same area as the HT, but the paths do not cross. What is cool about this walk is that I will walk through the largest stand of Mature Kauri Trees left in the Auckland Area. Kauri Trees are native trees to New Zealand, where they can grow huge and some trees date back to before human settlement of New Zealand. but they have been suffering a devastating die back in recent years and only a small percentage of the oldest trees are left. A microscopic pathogen infects and kills the trees. It is generally passed by humans… tramping…  (so you see where this is going). There is a huge effort to protect and save the Kauri Trees.  Luckily, you can help prevent spreading the disease by using disinfectant provided around the park to make sure you don’t accidentally carry deadly spores around.

(This is also why you get those questions about hiking in forests or working with cows on Customs forms entering New Zealand)

Also, I found it interesting that the trail was named “Montana.” (Apparently, Montana is a Spanish word for Mountainous country). Anyhow, the Montana in this situation is actually named after a vineyard that was started nearby by a Yugoslavian immigrant. The company has since grown and moved away from the area, but they have helped invest in boardwalks and protections on the trail so that people can see the Kauri Trees without damaging them.

The walk is scheduled to take 3-4 hours, but not knowing how challenging the walk is, I will reserve judgment. The good thing is that people refer to it as an “easy” tramping trail, so I am confident I will be fine.  I will confirm a time tomorrow with friends and see if anyone will come along.

I am cautiously excited about this. Ask me on Saturday night, however, and I may give a different story.

Here we go!


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