The University of Canterbury’s Sustainibility Club goes by the name of Kakiriki. They do a variety of things and if you recall they are the ones who hosted the permaculture workshop. This past weekend they had a potluck friday night and did some volunteer work on Quail Island saturday.
The potluck on Friday had an interesting premise. Since it was friday the thirteenth we were to dress up ‘in our scariest dress’ and rather than bringing a dish we were to bring an ingredient and then the group would cook something yummy. I had no Idea how to dress, and my trip to the second-hand store provided little inspiration (I found a pair of shiny purple jeans though…). I decided to dress up as genetically modified corn, just wear lots of yellow basically, and then had the idea of bunching up yellow shopping bags to imitate corn kernels. Kinda worked… I was more a wako yellow-bag superhero. I finished my costume off by wrapping my green tarp around my legs as the corn husks.
I biked through the light rain, en costume, and stopped by a vegetable store I had wanted to check out. Descent prices and I grabbed some avocados thought I thought people would like to augment my contribution of carrots. Not many people showed up, and the costumes were a bit lackluster. Gabby managed to turn herself into a very frightening dumpster dweller using some shredded curtains from a dumpster. For food we had: carrots, avocado, strawberries, carrots, silverbeat… yea and then from the house we used staples and tofu. We decided to make a vegan quiche. and while that cooked we baked some crackers to go with the avocado. cracker making was like christmas cooking cutting, I made a horsee!
So we dined, and chatted. And did some face painting, some scary some benign – all beautiful. crackers (with sesame seeds) were a success. We started snacking on the strawberries. And then the quiche was done and a splendid blend of carrots onions and silver beat. For dessert a Carrot cake appeared which was exceptionally moist and Delicious! we didn’t bother cutting it and just ate fork fulls.
Saturday and I woke up late, jammed breakfast and lunch together and got to the UCSA building late to carpool to the ferry for quail island. We drove to littleton, which took much longer than I thought, but made the ferry that took us out to the island in littleton bay. On the island we gathered tools and went to a little vale of native brush which was planted 10 years prior. We were filling gaps that hadn’t survived. Dig a hole, plant a flax or other native plant (whose name I forget), cover with a scrap of rug. Flax goes in the very wet, another in somewhat wet and the third plant went on the drier slops of the vale, plus another mix of plants went in to add diversity. It was beautifully sunny and I was afraid of getting burned but enjoying the warmth. talked to a kiwi who had traveled to Brekenridge and done some of the best skiing of his life. Another person, native of South Africa, had been to Colorado and skied with people from france who said they had the best snow of their life at winter park. cool stories to hear, and makes me miss skiing. We also planted in a drainage, on a rocky slope by the sea. more rocks than soil there and we had to poke around a lot before finding places to plant.
We finished around 2-230 and had until 330 to explore the island. A cove nearby had about 6 sunken ships, steel ribs poking out of the water. The tide was low and we wandered around and in the ships. Crabs fleeing into their holes, mussels everywhere, poking anemones and watching them cringe. Shoes sinking into the mud as the tide came in. The trail goes around the island and we enjoyed a leisurely walk back in the sunshine, at one point you could almost walk to a peninsula reaching into the bay had the tide been even lower. Past a quarry, some old huts that housed lepers and quarantined the sick in the first half of the 20th century, and past a beach to the jetty. There I watched the tide, caressing rounded rocks and fitting pebbles in grooves on the rocky slab shore.
Leaving on the Ferry I talked to Colin. He’s older and started the reforestation effort on Quail island. In the 70’s he did research in Colorado developing techniques for dating avalanche events based on evidence in the forest (he’s a botanist). He spent a bit in Boulder and then was up in Silverton and had the good fortune to enjoy all the beauty of southwest Colorado; and to see so many mammals. Mammals are none native to NZ and so you don’t really see any in the bush, no squirrels, bunnies, pika, or moose etc.
That evening we had another little potluck where Julie cooked the mussels she/we gathered at the sunken ships. I dont know if I like em, I ate em, but the wheat and white sauce was no good for me.
Boyle River, bush, Devil's Den Bivy, Doubtful Stream, dripping, dusting of snow, forest, hut, Lewis Pass, logs, moss, New Zealand Report, Nina river, NZ, poetic, rain, rock slide, snakeskin saddle, snow, woods, words
Got it all ready at 3 am. At 6:30 I was up, had some eggs, and at the bus at 7. At 8 I was on the road. (oh and this is an epic tale, you may want to take it in smaller bites). Snakeskin Saddle – here we come!
Tuesday rolls along and with it an adventure. I wake up early and pack my bag, make a quick phone call to check the status of my bike repair, then grab a bike and rush not tobe late. I get to the bus stop just a minute before my bus arrives, and then struggle for another minute trying to get the bike on the bike rack. I finally do but at the next stop a man takes forever to find his change and then the bus driver takes a wrong turn and has to do a U-turn on a busy street in Christchurch… that was a sight to behold. I consigned my self to the fact that things were running slow and tried to take in the sights of Christchurch as the bus – slowly – made its way to the east side of Christchurch. I finally get off (a stop later than I asked due to another lapse on the drivers part) and make my way to the bike shop to pick up my Bike. Thank fully they tightened the spokes so now it rides quiet, but they didn’t do to well at keeping the wheel true… oh, and let me assure you that none of these events were really mistakes. Indeed this post has nothing to do with any mistakes, except that my first destination is Taylor’s Mistake. Continue reading
As the inquisitive sort I am, and having the affinity for the arts that I have, I decided to wander into the arts building one afternoon. I followed the trail of photos on the wall, went past a developing room and the dark room to the end of the hall. Well not quite. Continue reading
This past weekend I completed my first tramp in the New Zealand Brush. A fellow CU Boulder student by the name of Clayton (who I had met but never really interacted with in my Minerology class) told me of a tramp into some hot springs in Arthurs Pass. So we planned our trip to Otehake Hot pools, and a third fellow AustraLearn study abroad student (Tom) planned to accompany us. Unfortunately the Tramping club (UCTC) got word of our plans, and, since they are bad planners, decided to appropriate our lovely little trip.
So, myself and Tom caught the bus and then made our way to the trail head, while Clay followed a half hour later (after being denied a ride by the Tramping club). Tom and I, followed by some of the CUTC, then clay stepped out his metal head ride, and finally two vans of CUTC trampers arrived, all within 10 minutes, at the Taramakau River trailhead. And we started out – HOW! – over the fence and off past the cows to the river. Down into the river, or lack thereof as we first traversed the pebble shore/flood path of the Taramakau River, and then plunged our feet into its cool embrace. Once through the Taramakau River we made our way into the brush, spreading our eyes and jaws at the green plethora that makes the brush, the shafts of sunlight streaming and strange trees punching towards the sky. In our excitement (and desire to avoid the CUTC) we lost ourselves in the bush a bit, crisscrossing the trail and stumbling upon an amazingly clear stream flowing between blue-green greys in the soft midday shade of the brush.
Our quest to avoid the CUTC was pointless (couldn’t outrun them or let them overtake us) so we eventually found our way back to the path and mingled. for a time we were on a farm road, near cows, and passing through streams that chilled our feet until the wool warmed us up again. Then we went back into the bush where we were continually distracted. Many large trees extending into the canopy above, spreading massive roots that push out from the base of the tree like steep mountain ridges and act as walls funneling us along our way. Moss grows like little flowers, or drips down trees like water.
We came to a lake and jumped up onto a log to bask in sunshine (trying to dry out our soggy feet) and eat some lunch. I had my favorite meal of peanut butter and banana between two rye crackers. on that lake we were looking up at the lower slopes of 1500m peaks. The sunlight was moving up out of the valleys and onto higher slopes, and with it we moved back into the bush.
At the end of the lake we descended a steep slope and came to the Otehake river. I made a quick run up another slope to cross the suspension flood bridge. It was a bit trying to first cross, swaying 20 meters above the river, standing on wires and skinny metal rungs covered by chain-link fence, but crossing back over was cake. we marched up river, staying on the pebbly sides of the river, fording now and then in the glacier fed water. Until, near dusk, as the sun was blazing on the mountain tops, we arrived to find the hot pools swarming with many of the CUTC. I will say that having the CUTC there meant a livelier bit of fireside conversation. But the hot pools were polluted by their lights flashing every-which way as they cooked on their gas stoves. Bah! I had to go out to the cold stone and find shade from their lights and the moonlight before I could appreciate the stars above and see two shooting stars, one very blue and long. Oh, and there were many overly friendly possums which bothered us throughout the night and needed to be chased off.
We had an early start in the morning as we made our way to the northeast ridge of Mt. Pfeifer and bushed through the brush. What an Adventure aye, I broke trail all the way up: avoiding bluffs and going up others, breaking through dense brush and small trees, trying not to slip on moss or get caught in bogs. Sweet as! Slow going as unfortunately Tom was not at the same level as Clay and I. On finally reaching scrub line and breaking free of the bush we were immensely elated gazing out at the dazzling peaks, whose foothills we had seen before. Don’t get the wrong Idea, the brush was almost more spectacular. To wander such a warm and fuzzy wonderland in winter is astounding. The moss covers all and the sunlight streaming in reveals amazing Russian hats on trees and long wise beards in the trees, or logs scattered like pickup sticks in what looks a comfy nest for hundreds of meters around.
After a few dense thickets in the scrub we made it to the tundra (about 1300m) where we were promptly greeted by a few gorgeous tarns, still water rimmed in what else but a light shade of green, and a goat on the ridge-line above us.
Tom at this point was exhausted and the going got slower. on reaching a false summit (which we had identified earlier) we realized that we had a lot of ground to cover over steep and increasingly snowy terrain. Westerlies were blowing some clouds in and threatened to bring rain. we went on along the ridge to evaluate options, and had to abandon our hopes of reaching the summit and decided to descend the runoff bellow and make for bushline before night and rain caught us at elevation.
We made our way down a steep couloir, gently directing and encouraging Tom, onto some scree for some fun skiing and then into the george for a long and knee pounding final descent. I mean LONG! we made the bush but the banks of the creek were too steep and we couldn’t find a campsite, so we kept on past the boulders left long ago by floods and desperately ripped out some trees to clear space for our tent. Just as dusk turned to dark we had our tent up, right over a nice rock. But tired as we were after the exciting, inspiring, and hard day we were able to contort around the lumps (smoothed by some ferns) and catch bits of sleep.
An even earlier start at dawn had us through the bush, along the creek and back on the trail. once back on the trail we had tramped the first day we made lightning speed and made it out and back over the Taramakau River by 11. We congratulated eachother on the amazing tramp and headed back to christchurch to get back our studies.