Peaks 24, 25 and 26: Hogs Back, Bridge Hill and Helicopter Hill
Getting my act together over Winter has been an interesting challenge. In the height of Summer I didn’t even regard Winter as a challenge (as we’d had a good 5 weeks of blue skies in January) so thought that I’d be able to manage it all the way through with no issues. How wrong I was… into July and a good 5 weeks behind schedule after a few failed attempts, things started to look ominous for the whole 52.
With a hiatus in the weather and temperatures, I made sure I took my mountaineering boots off and got my running shoes back on again to cover some serious mileage. Off to Craigieburn Valley, the same area I managed to bag Peaks 8 (Hamilton Peak), 9 (Nervous Knob) and 13 (Mt Cloudsley) earlier in the year.
I did a bit of background reading on track closures for bikes and spent some time deliberating over the prospective route from Castle Hill Village to pick up as many peaks as possible on a mammoth run. In the end I ended up planning a ~40km circular route taking in the sights of the Cheeseman (edit: Peaks 31&32), Broken River (edit: Peak 30) and Craigieburn Ski Fields, the Cheeseman ice rink, Dracophyllum Flats and the views from the top of Helicopter Hill – some of the best down the valley (apart from being on top of the ski field ridges or up Hamilton Peak).
I even enticed Caralyn to come and join me, which was awesome – and such a nice day with blue skies all around after a very murky start with fog and drizzle in Christchurch.
We followed the bike trail (Hogs Back Track) out of Castle Hill Village towards the mountains, the trail very muddy from the melting snow, so a very sensible idea for them to shut the trail for bikes. Up around the zig zags and onto the first peak – Hogs Back (1032m). A quick respite and off to the next two…
Across the aptly named Dracophyllum Flats, past the ice rink and cross numerous rivers we made it to the Broken River access road.
Just a short run up to Bridge Hill across a few fences next to the Environmental Centre to the summit (1050m) …and that was Peak 25 in the bag.
After Bridge Hill, Caralyn departed back to Castle Hill Village, the plan to meet me on Cheeseman access road at the end of the run. I decided to take the Lyndon Saddle Track before the Helicopter Hill Track up to the summit of my halfway peak, Peak 26!
I felt good on the way up, after around 3 hours of running. Made it to the Helicopter Hill Top (1256m) and met the first people of the day on the snow near the summit cairn. What a view, 360 degree views of the Craigieburn Forest Park – an awesome spectacle – and a great view back towards Hogs Back… looking a long way away!
So, with Peak 26 done, I returned back to the Broken River access road and crossed Dracophyllum Flats for the second time, hitting the Cheeseman access track on the 5 hour mark. Perfect timing and a good day out in the hills!
On this run I had my first use of the Suunto Ambit 2S, kindly leant to me by Suunto NZ to put it through it’s paces in the mountains… I’m pretty impresses on it’s first outing – good battery life, good accuracy of route (slightly better than my Garmin 310XT in the trees) and really nice to wear, actually fitting my wrist, rather than being a square stuck to my arm.
It didn’t lag, and was the quickest watch to find signal at Castle Hill Village at the start of the run – within 20 seconds… the others were literally 5 minutes. Anyway… enough of that for now –
I’ll report back more on it soon Gear report now in here!
Woohoo! At last I’m half way through the 52 peak!