The Taste of a River (Part Two) – Potts River Camp

“On a Mish” #368 The Taste of a River (Part Two). Potts River. Hakatere Conservation Area. 2.3.2023. If you go out hiking often, eventually you will run into a situation where you might have to cross a river. To some ‘hikers’ getting wet feet is a death sentence and they will risk life and limb to avoid the traumatic torture of having damp socks and wet boots. Others haven’t had the opportunity yet, and just maybe they might enjoy the excitement of crossing a watery barrier…

At just on six months old Ernie had only been on one mish and hadn’t tackled a torrent yet. So it was time for my dog to get his first taste of a river…

It takes a lot to get me into water to go for a swim. For some reason I have never really been into water activities and I rarely go out of my way to get wet. Usually the only times I go into water is when I have to cross a river on a tramp. It only takes two steps to get wet feet and after the initial discomfort subsides, you are transported back to the days when you were a kid playing in puddles. I had my little furry kid with me and it was time to teach him how to cross a river.

We had crossed our first braid and Ernie had a ‘what just happened?’ look on his face. Moments before we’d arrived at the river and as I went in he dug his paws into the ground trying to stop me dragging him in. The first braid was a struggle but after crossing another couple more he got used to it, and he no longer put the brakes on before going in.

To avoid weight on my back I went with my two pack approach, and this meant recrossing the braids again.

Ernie weighs about 10kgs so it is easy to hold him above the water. It was funny watching his little legs kicking in the water, a true doggy paddle.

We returned for the second pack and on our way back to the location of the first we came across my Te Araroa Trail hikers. Ernie worked his charm and would have been a bit of a surprise for the couple of people hiking the length of Aotearoa.

The evening was a hot one and after setting up my tent we wandered around the area checking out the views. I didn’t let Ernie off his lead as I didn’t want him to disappear into the Hakatere Mountains. I did give him the opportunity to explore though, and at times he would disappear amongst the tussocks with the rustling of bushes being the only sign of his location.

After checking out the area we returned to camp to watch an absolute master class in sunsets with every colour doing it’s part in the dramatic display. As the sun retreated behind the mountains to the west I noticed two very distinctive stars just above the horizon. It was a crazy sight and I wondered what was going on as I had never seen stars like that, apart from when I saw the Matariki constellation earlier in the year.

Evening turned into night time and both dog and man were ready to get some sleep. During the night I woke to find Ernie standing stiff in silence. I was puzzled at first and then I caught a glimpse of the silhouette of a possum outside. The near full moon was enough light to be positive there was a creature outside and I had to first hold Ernie back from tearing the tent open, and then scare the animal away as Ernie wasn’t barking like he normally does. After the possum incident we had an uneventful night.

Early-ish the next day we were up just before first light and it was definitely a sunrise worth getting up for. Just like the sunset, the place knows how to do a good sunrise and I enjoyed the morning show with a coffee.

At one stage I was so enticed by the once-a-day show that I wasn’t paying attention to the dog and his own little journey. I had a couple of stressful moments before I realised he wasn’t far away at all. His brown and white fur is like camouflage in this terrain and I know that in future I will need a GPS tracker so I know where he is at all times.

Now back together we packed up and headed to the car with the first pack. The morning was crisp and cool, and Ernie was much more reluctant to cross the river than the day before. Luckily for him I didn’t want to be travelling back home with a stinky wet dog, so I carried the little fella across each river braid and he remained dry. No taste of the river today!

The gear was loaded back into the car and it was time for us to head back to the real world. The trip was a success and the river training went well. It seemed that Ernie enjoyed his first taste of a wild river.

A Night in Hakatere

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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