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.
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.
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.