Saturday, March 16, 2013

"I am a great man." -Barry

My next adventure in the land of New Zea took place in a magical forest called Abel Tasman.

We were told that the best way to experience Abel Tasman was by way of sea kayak. In fact, we were told that several times, by several extremely reliable sources. So we decided it must be true. I took a kayak out on Roylance's Pond once and I flipped it over and then it almost sank and I had to drag it back to shore and it took FOREVER. I refrained from sharing that story with Erika when she announced our sea kayaking adventure was booked. Didn't seem relevant.

Now lest you think this adventure was merely getting in a kayak and paddling around in the ocean for a while, here was the basic gameplan:
  • Kayak into one of the nice beaches in the park
  • Stay the night there in a DOC hut
  • Next day, back pack further into the park to check things out
  • Take a water taxi back to where we started
So as we are packing for our kayaking adventure we had to bring enough food for two days, a change of clothes, a towel, a sleeping bag, and any other necessary items, whilst keeping in mind that everything we brought would have to be carried on our back as we hiked through the forest.

Back to the beginning. We started our morning bright and early with sea kayaking safety training because there is always the possibility that you could flip over, get stuck in your kayak, and drown to death.This cat Hio (Ohio without the 'O') is the one that delivered the instruction. With those luscious locks he should be famous. I think that he is possibly Barry's (aka Steve Martin's) son on Baby Mama. The resemblance is striking.

First he taught us about how to sit in a kayak and steer and paddle and stuff and I was like:

But then he started talking about emergency procedures and where you can find the flare and I was like:

They gave us these awesome skirts to wear that seal you into your little kayak hole to keep the water out. They kept me so warm! But they were also the reason that I could have potentially drowned so we had a somewhat tumultuous relationship. Boy, did they look good on us!

During our training we were given the following scenario: Your kayak has tipped over, you pull the safety band and make it out of the kayak and up for air. What do you do next? The answers were flying: find your paddle! flip the canoe! light the flare! all met with a negative response. Until one blessed voice rose above the rest and said, "You have to make sure that your partner is ok!" Which was, of course, the right answer. And that blessed voice just happened to come from my partner. And suddenly, I was a lot less worried about the whole thing. Though mostly I was just grateful that I rated above a paddle in Andrea's book.

In fact, we were suddenly so gung ho about the whole experience that we were the first to push off into the ocean when it was finally time. And off we were!

For educational purposes, I will include a map of our journey.

And I'm not gonna lie, Andrea and I proved to be the power couple of the group throughout the first half of the trip. It was mostly Andrea that was fast and really strong, but I was attached to her so ha!

After a while we pulled in to one of the beaches to have a bite to eat and enjoy the scenery. The best part was, I didn't even feel a little bit tired!

Then we got back out into the deep blue and paddled some more!

Eventually we pulled into another little stop off for a break. Now remember that map from before? Well that red shaky area is called the 'Mad Mile' because the water there is so open and exposed that you don't have any protection from the currents. We had a choice to make: We could leave our kayaks to be picked up on the beach and walk the rest of the way to our campsite for the night, or we could brave the mad mile and kayak to that same point. The group split in two and I ended up in the kayaking group with a false sense of security due to my seemingly new found kayaking skills.

Well, let me tell you folks. that Mad Mile was ROUGH. The waves were huge and the only advice we had was to paddle into them perpendicularly so that they wouldn't tip us over on our side. I was rowing so hard and watching myself go nowhere. It was pretty awesome. Thankfully, there was another pullout point in the middle of the Mad Mile, so we were able to get out and walk from there. Had I tried to continue to the end of that Mad Mile, I would not be here and writing this blog today I am fairly positive, so be grateful.

We stayed the night there at our fancy little DOC hut which was basically a room with a giant bunkbed that slept six on top and six on bottom. By the time we got to the DOC hut there was one other German couple that had already claimed a spot. Well that put thirteen people in a hut that's supposed to sleep twelve, which seems like it would be no big thang. Well, it was a big thang. That left me in the little space between two mats that were just thick enough to force me to sleep on my side ALL NIGHT LONG. My body was exhausted from a day of kayaking and muscles that I never even knew existed were throbbing (seriously, my wrists were on fire. No worries though, they're super buff now. I could be a bracelet model.) There were bugs everywhere. Throw in the fact that several of my dear dear friends have a tendency to snore and you have the perfect recipe for the longest night of my life. But at least I was not sleeping outside. There was still gratitude in my heart for my precious little DOC hut.

We woke up the next morning, ate some gruel for breakfast, and got to work on loading up our backpacks. It took me a while to work out how to hook my blasted sleeping bag to my backpack tight enough so that it wouldn't swing around when I walked, but loose enough that my backpack wasn't strangling my arms. I threw on my still wet clothes from the day before and we were off! Again.

We hiked and hiked and hiked and we got to see a lot of the park. The path was pretty easy and mostly shaded, thank heavens. Only thing is the lady said we could easily do the hike in jandals (aka flip flops) and so I did. And my feet were killing me. And I had to pull out a bunch of sticks and rocks and things that had got lodged into my skin by the time we were done. But back to how pretty Abel Tasman is:

Eventually we came to our first destination. It is a natural waterslide called Cleopatra's Pool. The water has run down these rocks long enough that they're nice and smooth and they're also covered in moss so you just slide right through. The water was freezing, but it was so beautiful and so much fun. We took pictures and video, but I'm not sure where they ended up and so I found this on google. This chick looks like she had a good time too.

We hiked and hiked and hiked some more until we found a perfect little spot to eat our lunches.

Our own private beach, complete with our own private sandbar!

Andrea died of happiness

Our final destination was the beach we would take the water taxi from. We had a long way to go and no more reasons to stop which was a bummer.

Tricky little Erika found a sweet little shortcut for us. All we had to do was scale down the side of the trail to the beach below. The tide was way out so we just had to walk across the sand until we met up with the trail on the other side. It worked out pretty well, despite the fact that the way down was full of prickly bushes and most of us had ditched our clothes at this point and were hiking in out swimsuits. Not a great combo.

And I would like to award one million points to Brooke for doing it all in this Island Princess Rambo get up.

Yes, that is a peach floral lava lava tied into a shirt, aviators, and bandana. No pants. So awesome.
Oh, and in other good news I finally got to use some of the skills I learned at Girl's Camp! We got to this big puddle and Rachel was wearing tennis shoes. Tennis shoes plus puddle equals soggy tennis shoes (and you all know how I feel about those. kitty punching.) Those ropes courses really do have real life applications!

At one point we got to go on this cool as bridge. Indiana Jones anybody?

Finally we made it to the last beach, just in time to take a quick dip before our water taxi came.

So, in summary: Sea Kayaking is awesome. Backpacking through Abel Tasman is awesome. Sliding down Cleopatra's Pool is awesome. Doing all those things without showering is awesome. I mean, gross! Yeah, definitely gross. I hated it. Yuck.

Oh, and once again, I'm hardcore. Eat it.


  1. That is a super lame name for a super awesome forest. Once again overwhelmed with you adventurous side and super de duper jealous. After all these crazy trip, teaching little kids has gotta seem like dullsville... :)

  2. Super impressed Kylie. Brooke's Island Rambo look is also awesome. She's just missing an AK-47 strapped to her and/or a machete in her teeth.

  3. Wow! I can't decide if I'm more impressed by your outdoorsmanship or the scenery? Both are incredible! What an awesome post!! Still missin you!!