pinnacle valley

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Excellent driving and flying view of the features on Australia’s East Coast. You have no idea how much I love the videographer for giving me the full list of sites they shot, in the caption below.

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The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day. Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length. It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.
—  Diane Ackerman, The Natural History of the Senses
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The overnight hike to the Pinnacles Hut is one of the best in New Zealand, and within the ability of anybody willing to walk around 20 kms. It winds through deep kauri forests, over volcanic topography, across multiple swing bridges and passed rivers and dams. The Pinnacles Hut is the biggest in New Zealand with 80 bunks, and with running water, electricity and amazing views, and it is the best hut I have ever stayed in.

The trail starts in the Kauaeranga Valley, with the first swing bridge across the Kauaeranga River. The trail follows an old loggers and packhorse route. For the first hour I was surrounded by thick vegetation, but as the path begins to rise up the ridges, the surrounding view slowly becomes visible. There is a lot of historical significance, with the early settlers using the kauri timber to support industry. These trees are so huge and magnificent, and it’s a reminder of how we need to be careful with the resources on earth.

When you finally reached the Pinnacles Hut, you can put down your pack and have some food before climbing the final ascent. This is the best part of the entire tramp- great views in 360, slight exposure and ten minutes of scrambling. The wind was loud and roaring, almost strong enough to lean against, and this made it hard to grab a good photo. I wish it was possible to show how crazy the wind was going, but I couldn’t really capture its strength. Looking down towards the East is the coast of New Zealand, and that would have to be one of the first bits of land that the sun shines on with every new day.

While I was at the Hut, a really strange thing happened. There was a group of boot campers of about 60 people that were spending the weekend on the overnight hike, which is great, I love when people get to experience nature, but they were quite strange and ticked every stereotype that fitness/crossfit/bootcamps get labelled with. It was almost impressive how well they lived the stereotype. When they got to the Hut they didn’t hike the last hour to see the summit. Instead they did a circuit consisting of the usual burpees and sprints. The summit is always the best part; I will never understand why someone would hike all weekend to just do burpees near the top. At dinner time they all had pre-packaged chicken, sweet potatoes and brocooli, which is fine, but proceed to look at our mishmash of dinner as if the very proximity of these carbs would cause them to gain fat. Hey, chill, some chocolate won’t kill you. Then just before the sun rose the next day they started to get up. Great, I thought, I was too quick to judge, they are going to summit for a dawn view. Fantastic. I was wrong, because it become quickly apparent that they had risen for a pre-dawn circuit. After they had drunk their protein shakes, they were off back down the mountain. This is where I think people need balance. I go to the gym almost every day of the week, and I also abide by a healthy lifestyle. But it’s okay to go for a hike and just soak up nature and leave that meticulous diet behind. Life is about balance and being flexible.

Going back down, there is an option to take another track, The Billy Goat Trail, and I would highly recommend this. This trail is muddy, follows the ridge lines raised above the valleys, crosses rivers, and occasionally steep. Everything best. It also has a mystical vibe, there are parts where you feel like it is an old elven path from Middle Earth. A really cool way to spend a weekend.

The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day. Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length. It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.
—  The Natural History of the Senses, Diane Ackerman