After our first day trip to Packhorse Hut, we felt like we knew the basics and were ready to try an overnighter. I still think that the most difficult part of the whole “going tramping with a 10 week old” is the planning stage. A cloth? How many? Clothes? How many? A blanket? How big? Wool or polar fleece? Is Elk (our son’s nickname) going to sleep on a separate sleeping mat or is he going to snuggle with his mum in the same sleeping bag? What if he gets too hot? What do we do about the sandflies? …and I could continue asking similar questions for a long time!
Once we‘d finally packed, we left Christchurch in the afternoon to avoid the heat as it was getting close to 36 degrees in Christchurch! The journey to Jig Road carpark was uneventful, although we learnt the hard way that it’s good to break up the journey intentionally rather than to wait for our son to tell us when he needs a break. He can go from a “sleeping happy baby stage” to “crying for his life stage” in a matter of seconds. And as Murphy’s law would have it, he always starts crying AFTER we’ve passed a suitable place to stop and now we’re in the middle of farm roads and have to pull over on a patch of grass by the side of a farmhouse to feed him and calm him down.
Anyway, after two hours we managed to arrive at the carpark. From there it took us around 2.5 hours to reach Woolshed Creek Hut. The only issue was that Anna got really hot as Elk was in a Moby wrap attached to her body. We also kept checking on him to make sure he wasn’t too hot but as he wasn’t the one climbing a hill with a baby and a backpack, he seemed fine. Anna also tested out carrying an umbrella to protect him from the sun as New Zealand sun can get incredibly strong. The umbrella worked well until we left the bush – above the bushline when a gentle breeze hit us, the umbrella closed down (surprise!). I’m not sure if a better umbrella could sort this out but as New Zealand is always windy, this is probably a dead end 🙂 We used a thin scarf over our baby instead as we don’t want him to wear sunscreen just yet.
At Woolshed Creek Hut, the other trampers were quite surprised to see such a small baby there but everyone was lovely and encouraging – and that was BEFORE we told them that we weren’t sleeping in the hut but camping.
We set up tents outside of the hut. We’d decided to go for two tents: one for Anna and Elk, one for me. This was so that Anna had more space for night time breastfeeds and nappy changes and wasn’t disturbed by the rustling and swishing of Michal’s sleeping bag and mat. We might work our way to one tent at some point but for now, two tents work well for us. Elk ended up sleeping on a double folded foam sleeping mat next to Anna. During the night, Anna wasn’t sure if he was warm enough or overheating so she kept checking him all night which meant she didn’t get much sleep. At night, the temperature went down to 10 degrees – Elk hadn’t experienced such low temperatures in his entire life! But he slept like a baby – literally. We dressed him in lots of merino layers and a warm hat and he slept on a polarfleece blanket with a small cotton sheet over it and the other half of the blanket folded over on top of him. At the coldest part of the night, around 3am, Anna unfolded her sleeping bag and put half of it over Elk. She originally wanted him to sleep in her sleeping bag with her, but as he’s a front sleeper, this wasn’t really possible.
We woke up around 6am as we’d planned to leave early to avoid the 35 degrees forecast for the following day. When we woke up, Anna packed up her stuff and went to feed Elk in the hut and wait for me to pack the tents to keep Elk protected from the sandflies. We might be overprotective but we didn’t want our baby to get bitten by sandflies just yet.
The wee tramp back to the car was reasonably straightforward, we only stopped once for a quick feed. This is also better to plan rather than wait for the baby to ask for food – with planning, we could choose a nice spot protected from the wind and the sun. If we had waited, I’m sure that Elk would have started crying in the most inconvenient place.. Same as the day before, it took us around 2.5 hours, which is about the DOC estimated time. I was very happy with that!
Although we were a bit nervous about Elk as he was experiencing many things for the first time (long journey in the car, sleeping outside, sandflies, nature in general, cold night…), we had a great time. We also agreed that next time we should go for 2 nights to spend more time out. It could also balance the time spent in the car vs in nature a little bit better.
Rough stats: 5.5 km each way, 2.5 h each way.
Tramped on 25-26th January 2021.
Max elevation: 956 m
Min elevation: 544 m
Total climbing: 853 m
Total descent: -850 m
Total time: 17:41:57