First Hike in Review: Mt Karangahake

Tucked away in the gorge between Paeroa and Waihi is the popular stop off area of Karangahake. Various short walks from the carpark uncover relics and reminders of an age when men would leave everything in the hope of changing their fortune through gold. Above everything, a distant trig beacon stands silently, unassumingly, on the tallest peak surrounding the area. Last Saturday Paula and I loaded Cohen into the backpack, and left the throngs of camera-toting tourists and excitedly-chattering scouts on an expedition to get to that trig.

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The walk itself starts from humble origins as an overgrown single file track deviating from the well-trodden paths to the caves.  It is easy to miss, and to be honest had Paula and I questioning whether this was the right track to take Cohen on for his first decent hike. The track passes through pleasant native bush before emerging onto an old mining road. The official DOC track follows this road for around 15 minutes before branching off to the right, and climbing steadily to the top, passing through a number of attractive natural hallways created by the overhanging trees (more easily enjoyed on the way down!). The path gets quite tight and steep for a short section before the summit, which consists of a trig perched atop of a few rocks, with no comfy wooden seats or information boards to speak of.

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Tramping with a baby is a blast. Somehow it takes a normal walk and makes it feel so much more epic.  The possum baby carrier by Macpac was comfortable and sent Cohen off to sleep, so I guess it was comfy enough for him too.  Plenty of storage space in the pack meant we didn’t have to be too creative in what we took with us, and in fact we had room to spare, which leaves me excited about doing tramps of a longer duration.

One of the more subtle differences I noticed about tramping with a baby was the impact it had on my perception of time. With only three hours between feedings, I was anxious to make it to the top before the next feed. I could just imagine Cohen starting to cry, taking the whole “it-might-just-be-around-the-next-corner” syndrome to another level.  Do you push on with a crying baby in your ear in the hope that the peak is close, or stop to feed, possibly to find the summit only five minutes on?  Thankfully this was a dilemma I didn’t have to face on this occasion, but it did make me realise that perhaps the more enjoyable walks will be ones without such a definite high point to look forward to.

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Christmas Traditions

With Christmas only five weeks away, Paula and I have been discussing the traditions we want to establish with our wee family. I’m the type that gets excited about the possibility of setting up meaningful, creative and fun family traditions that (hopefully) my kids will remember fondly when they grow up.

When it comes to Christmas, Paula and I want to intentionally keep the original meaning central, while also enjoying the presents and family that this season now encompasses. We also like the idea of incorporating some element of the outdoors into the day. On top of this, whatever we do can’t be confined to a particular geographic area, to accommodate the fact that we’ll be alternating between family at very different ends of the country.

Beyond this general criteria, we’re still in the process of figuring out how we want Christmases to look in the Brown household. So, dear reader, we would love to know, what traditions does or did your family hold at Christmas time? Deep and meaningful, or just fun and random, lets hear them in the comments!