A dry run for Tarawera (aside from the sweat, mud, and stream crossings), and a rather spectacular run in its own right. The Huia 69, truncated to 66km for reasons below…
The idea of running the Hillary as the premier build up run to the Tarawera stuck. Unfortunately, for various (valid) reasons, running companions didn’t. So plan B was a self supported Waitakere loop taking in as much of the Hillary as seemed sensible by oneself (and a dinner appointment to make).
After a bit of hunting round and route calculation I came up with the Huia 69, a 69km loop that heads out along the Hillary and back inland along various ridge tracks, the northern turn around being the Cascades rather than Bethells. The circuit has some nice design features, Piha for a halfway refuel, various cut-back options, is ‘mostly’ runnable, and a good portion of the Hillary Route Proper. Also the out is tougher than the back, and the final 10km could be done in the dark in a state of delirium if required (ie. self extraction).
The principle downside is paucity of refuel and safe water options. So I loaded a 2l Camelbak and an Inov-8 bottle carrying waist belt with as many calories as I could muster (1sq meals, choco-scroggin, and snakes). That and a first aid kit, jacket, light thermals, emergency blanket, whistle, toilet paper, paper map, emergency rations, headlamp, and lucky rabbit’s foot.
Given it was a scorcher of a day I was sucking through the water and required a stream top up of the Camelbak at the Cascades. Water clarity was much better there than in the southern part where the effects of the previous day’s thunderstorm were evident – even so I dropped some iodine tabs to ward off any giardia threat. Early collateral damage of the sweat was my phone, whilst waterproof, the touchscreen goes haywire after getting sweaty and it ended up locking the SIM card (and hope of a pickup by anyone other than emergency services).
Anyhoo, due to some earlier organisational screw-ups (started late), getting low on food, and being unable to contact Victoria for the promised health and safety updates, I had to truncate the last 3km fun loop to make for a clean 66km outing rather than the planned 69km. Still incorporated a good 3200m of climbing and +9hrs of movement. Run/walk pacing all good, indeed happy as with everything (Inov-8 Mudrocs are THE shoe for the Waitakere’s).
My right big toenail is bloody sore though and is going a bit dark. Hopefully it’ll stay with me.