Bushcraft Weekend

Robert Latta
March 29, 2013

This past weekend I had the chance to go along with the UC Tramping club on their annual Bush Craft trip. 

I had been meaning to go on at least one of their trips this year instead of just relying on their gear rentals for my own trips. I was also keen on meeting new people, maybe even some Kiwi’s.  It’s odd that I hadn’t had that chance until almost half way through the semester.  I’ve heard that a lot of Kiwi’s don’t really appreciate the natural beauty in their country.  It’s a tragedy, really.   But then again, a lot of American’s don’t appreciate their outdoors either.

The weekend started off with an early bus trip on Saturday morning out to Craigieburn Forest Park.  We made our way up the rugged valley, and I had my first experience of trying to cross creeks without trying to keep my feet dry.  For the majority of the hike, I walked with three Kiwi’s (finally!), George, Tim, and Sophie, and discussed sports and school.

The way up to Cass Saddle Hut

We made it to the hut (which had only three bunks in it, so we had to bring our tents) around noon to set up camp.  I had a two person tent, so I shared it with Daniel, a German here for the semester.  I got to know Daniel pretty well over the weekend, as he was also an engineering student.

Our campsite.

After a lunch of PB&J and trail mix, the group adventured up the mountainside for some off trail tramping (“bush-bashing” as they call it) and orienteering.  Hiking up a 45 degree hillside is tough, especially when there’s no trail.  We all struggled.  The views at the top, where we took a water break on a windy ridgeline, however, were incredible.  We scrambled along the rocky hillside until we came to a scree slope, which is pretty much a steep, rock covered incline, usually prone to avalanches in the winter.  Jan, one of our trip leaders taught us how to scree run, where you pretty much ski down the slope, pushing down the rocks as you go, and trying to avoid the big boulders.  After a large dinner and fire back at camp, everybody zipped into their sleeping bags for the night.  

Scree Running.

The next morning I reluctantly put on my damp socks and we went back down the trail.  Before going back to Christchurch, though, we stopped at a slow moving section of the quite chilly Waimakariri River.  Linking up with our arms behind each other’s backs, we worked on crossing the river several times, each time with a different group.  By the end of it, a few of us crossed the entire thing at chest-deep.  I couldn’t feel my anything below my chest for a while after that because it was so cold.

Daniel climbing out of the river.

The car ride home was long and we all smelled bad.  But I’m so thankful I got to go on that trip.

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Robert Latta

<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Robbie Latta and I am a junior studying civil engineering at Purdue University in lovely West Lafayette, Indiana. I am also a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity on campus. I like to spend time outside, bike, play hockey when I am home in Minnesota, write, and spend time with my friends. I am coming to New Zealand to explore the Kiwi lifestyle and have some fun!</span></div>

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