Fresh Start (Part 1) – Holts / Rolleston Camp

“On a Mish” #238 Fresh Start (Part One). Holts/Rolleston Camp. Arthurs Pass National Park. 31.12.2020. It is amazing how once emerged in the excellence of the outdoors real world problems become an afterthought and your mind is then occupied with the scenery that surrounds you. A good mish gives your head a reset and after a fresh start I have found I am able to tackle any problems with less stress. With everything that happened during 2020 I knew that I wanted to finish one of humanities craziest years the right way, and as far away from any pandemic talk as possible…

For the majority of 2020 I wasn’t able to venture into the hills and that was a big problem. Eventually I worked out I didn’t have to hike very far (sometimes there was no hiking at all!) to get a fix of what I had been missing so much. Being angry or frustrated about my situation was only using what limited energy I have, so I just played the hand I had been dealt and modified my missions to suit. I was back in the game, however at this stage it was only ripper rugby, and I knew it was going to be sometime before I was going to be able to step up to the full contact stuff.

Hiking with camping gear is a challenge when you are unable to put weight on your hip. Many have retired from hiking and camping after hips injuries but not this guy. In case it wasn’t obvious I am obsessed with going on backcountry missions, so simply stopping wasn’t an option. My way around putting weight on my hips was to use multiple bags to carry gear. It’s lucky I have a rather large collection of packs of different shapes and sizes. Spreading the weight out with multiple packs has made it possible to venture a small way into the mountains, but the distance must be limited as multiple packs mean multiple trips, and that equals a very sore hip and back. Little missions and big experiences are what I am after.

A place that I rediscovered during the calamity that was 2020 is the small yet outdoor action-packed Arthurs Pass National Park. In just over an hour from Christchurch you can reach the outer eastern edge of the park and from there the exploring begins. This was my first place I went camping of my injury, with a camp on the tussock-covered terraces above the Waimakariri River. Acting as fuel to the fire I returned home and kept rebuilding my fitness and the strength that I had lost while stuck on the couch recovering.

I studied maps of the Arthurs Pass area looking for a possible spot near the highway that cuts through the middle of the park. I spotted and then decided on a trip over the pass to the Rolleston River. I hadn’t been hiking in this area before, so I was looking forward to seeing the new surroundings.

Driving on the road from Christchurch to Arthurs Pass is at times a frightening affair at times, with some drivers wanting to play games with the Grim Reaper by overtaking multiple cars on blind corners. Being right in the middle of the holiday season meant that many people were out and about, and it was good to see Kiwi tourism in full swing. Covid seemed to bring lots of New Zealanders out to the incredible place we have in the little country. It was great for places like Arthurs Pass Village who rely on visitors so much.

I cruised on through the village and then over the pass. After descending into the Otira Valley on the western side of the pass I crossed over the Rolleston River and stopped at the small car park on the other side. The area is grand. I was surrounded by native forest, very steep rock bluffs and mighty snowcapped mountains. It is easy for me to forget about my aching bits in a place like this. The excitement was flowing as I got my first pack ready. Now let’s see this rather average year out the right way

The sun setting for the last time in 2020

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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