Sunday, 27 July 2014

Tramping Equipment: La Sportiva Valojet boots

See my earlier post, "To all the boots I've known before" to view other footwear I have used.

I've recently brought myself a new pair of leather boots for the coming Summer tramping season. I have been wearing a pair of Kathmandu boots but as is the case with their gear they have started to fall to bits. These boots are La Sportiva Valojets, a medium weight leather boot with a Goretex liner, the sole is a good quality Vibram one.
La Sportiva Valojet boot

I know a lot of trampers are going away from boots and wearing trail shoes or their ilk, but I actually like a pair of hard wearing leather boots on my feet. I find them more supportive and hardier on the rocky trails and river beds which characterise the Canterbury area. La Sportiva is a well known Italian boot manufacturer better known for their plastic mountaineering boots but the reviews for their trail boots are very positive.
La Sportiva Valojet boot, Vibram sole
Vibram soles are the bench mark for quality on tramping boots, they are hard wearing and technically advanced. I also like the high rand on these, good for protecting your boots from rock scuffs etc.

The boots on my feet.....

Tramping boots are really expensive, good one go for $400-$700 a pair. I had originally placed these boots on my wish list but removed them because they normally retail for $600.
There was a sale at one of the local outdoor stores which saw me walk away with these for the bargain price of $350.

Here's  hoping they are a successful purchase.

POST SCRIPT: I've worn these on a couple of trips now and they have performed very well. they are really grippy in wet conditions, nice firm sole, and fit well in the ankle area. I've switched to slightly thinner Lorpen socks as my usual thicker Munds/Bridgedales are too much sock for these boots. 

Boots on the Lewis Pass Tops, December 2015

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Christchurch 360: Sign of the Kiwi to Bridle Path: 29th June 2014

Ive been quiet on the tramping scene for a while so I planned a trip up to Lewis Pass, I was going to hike into Boyle Flats Hut for a couple of nights and then walk out. I actually got as far as Hanmer Springs! About 2 km's past the Hanmer Springs turn off the road was closed:
a logging truck had overturned this side of Lewis Pass blocking the road from 0730 till 1400.
So, no trip to the mountains this weekend:0

I spent the day in Hanmer instead, went for a forest walk, spent about 3 hours in the thermal pools & then drove home. Altogether, not a waste of a day.

The next day dawned bright and sunny so I decided to go for a walk on the Port Hills. I got my wife to drop me off at the top of Dyers Pass Road and then walked along the Crater Rim Walkway to the Bridle Path, about 10 kms in total.
This was the first weekend since the 2010/11 earthquakes that the section of track from Rapaki to the Bridle Path was open. It was closed due to the danger of rock fall.

Kathryn and Juliet drop me off at the carpark

Sign of the Kiwi carpark
You start out walking up the road for about a kilometer then start walking on the track.

Heading up the Summit Road

This is Sugar Loaf (real name), it is the TV transmission tower for the Christchurch area. There are fantastic views from the top of the hill, you can walk up the access road to the third highest point on Banks Peninsula.
Sugar Loaf TV antenna in the distance
The entrance to the track is opposite the first lookout on the Summit road, there are a number of tracks from this location which lead up to the carpark at the Sugar Loaf.

Carpark about 1 km up the road
This is not a very auspicious start to the Crater Rim Walkway, scrubby sheep pasture, but the start is certainly is!
Track to the Sugar Loaf

Pegasus Bay
The Crater Rim walkway goes around the left side of the hills from the Sugarloaf carpark. From this point on you have excellent views of the Canterbury plains, Pegasus Bay and Alps.
Sugar Loaf carpark, track goes to the left
A classic view North towards Kaikoura , Pegasus Bay and the distant Southern Alps.

Glorious Canterbury Plains
Here is view down onto the South end of Lytellton Harbour with Gebbies Pass, Mt Bradley and Mt Herbert in the distance. Quail Island is too the middle right of the photo.
View of Lytellton from near Sugar Loaf
This is the style of signage used by the Christchurch City council who administer the tracks and roads on the Port Hills. Note the message about rock fall: this was NOT on the sign before September 2011!

Crater Rim Walkway
As you can see the established parts of the walkway are very easy to follow, this is the standard of the "track" for most of its length.
View to the East
There were two excellent tracks through some native forest on the Lytellton side of Sugarloaf. Unfortunately since the earthquakes there is a very real risk of rock fall on the tracks. People still walk along them, but you really are taking your life into your own hands doing so.
Looking West towards Sugar Loaf

View towards the mouth of Lytellton Harbour, that is Quail Island in the centre of the shot. There is a very nice track around the Island, a great spot to take the kids for a walk and lunch during the Summer. You have to catch the ferry out to the island, unless you own a boat.
Diamond Harbour in the distance

Crater Rim Walkway
There are a few areas of regenerating bush along the track, in pre-colonial days the whole of the peninsula was covered in dense native bush.

Crater Rim Walkway

Crater Rim Walkway
The track undulates up and down over small ridgelines and through small areas of bush.

Crater Rim Walkway
There are the foothills of the Southern Alps in the distance, they are about 50 km's distant in this photo. During that week they had a good fall of snow higher in the Alps, 6-10 cms which closed a lot of the passes.
Southern Alps in the distance

Top end of Rapaki Track
If you walk this track this is a good spot to "bail out", the Rapaki track will take you down to the Huntsbury area and "civilisation".
Rapaki Track from Summit road

Great downhill MTB ride, look out for the tourist's though!

Rapaki Track
The section of track between Rapaki  and the Bridle Path has been re routed. Originally it ran on the Lytellton side of the hills but because of rock fall danger it is now on the Plains side of the ridge.

End of the Summit Road for cars
Parts of the track are dual use, I had to move aside for about 10-12 MTB riders through this section.

Crater Rim Walkway
Crater Rim Walkway

Lytellton from near The Tors
I stopped by the side of the (deserted) road and ate my lunch, it was very pleasant as it was suprisingly warm (its Winter here).
Nice views of the Plains and Lytellton as I chomped my tuna + crackers!
Oh, mighty tuna, ambrosia of the God's, how we love thee!
View of the the Tors

New section of the Crater Rim Walkway
Below is a view of the old walkway, it has a series of bluffs right next to the track so its a "no go" area now.
Old section of Crater Rim Walkway
Track? What track are you talking about!
New section Crater Rim Walkway
Because the track has been re routed due to earthquake damage, you had to make your own decisions as to where to walk. There are a series of paint marks on the grass so the Parks and Recreation people obviously haven't got around to cutting the new track yet.
It will sidle across the side of the hill following existing sheep tracks.
View towards Castle Hill area

Bridle Path apex from near Castle Hill

Crater Rim Walkway
The track heads around the back of this hill eventually to emerge at the apex of the Bridle Path. I decided to go off track and walk down the road. Dont do this! It was a pig of a thing to find a way down to the roadway as the road is built with an uphill cutting about 4 metres high. It would have been easier to just follow the path.

New section of Crater Rim Walkway

Here are a series of three photos showing Lytellton harbour from the mouth right through to its head.
Lytellton Harbour from Bridle Path apex
Mt Herbert from Summit Road

View towards Quail Island

I stopped for a drink and snack at the top of the Bridle Path. There was a lot of foot traffic up and down the track because it was such a lovely day: sunny but cool enough so that you dont wear yourself out climbing.

Hey folks, me at the top

View down the Bridle Path towards Heathcote Valley

Almost there, I come into sight of the track end!

Nearly there, Bridle Path carpark

There are plenty of parking spaces at the track end, you can also park in the Gondola carpark which is right next to the Bridle Path.

Bridle Path carpark
Here are some para-ponters enjoying the day. They launch their gliders from a hill next to the top terminal of the Gondola. 
Paraponters near the Gondola

Close up of Bridle Path sign
An excellent day out walking, the weather was beautiful, and although disappointed about missing my original tramp I was more than happy. I love the Port Hills we are so lucky to have them right there in our back yard.