GODzone Adventure - Chapter 4

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New Troopers Earn Their Chimpanzee Bars For Godzone

Team Chimpanzee Bar / 08.02.2015See All Event Posts Follow Event
Team Chimpanzee Bar in training
Team Chimpanzee Bar in training

The Chimpanzee Bar team for the Godzone 2015 Adventure Race was forged over the weekend with a mission up the Rangitata river, over the back of the two thumbs range  and back down the river.  The team including Milan Brodina (captain), Emily Wall (motivator), Greig Hamilton (navigator), and Rob Creasy (pack horse) assembled in Geraldine to plot their strategy for Godzone and knock out a solid two days of training.

However, a team cannot go far without food to fuel them. Chimpanzee energy and protein bars, Gun Powder drink and meal replacement powder kept everyone flying through the weekend.

The weekend started with a festive atmosphere as Greig and Emily arrived with two huge boxes and Milan proceeded to divvy up each Chimpanzee’s allocation of new kit.  After a flurry of packing, checking , and re-packing the team took off to the lagoon to solidify the kayak paddling combinations. Aafter checking every possible combination, technical proficiency, and transition speed into and out of the boats the alpha male was satisfied. 

Back into cars we swapped kayaks for mountain bikes, hiking boots, and rafts. The Chimpanzees piled into a van and shot up to Mesopotamia for the next section of the mission. This started with a mountain bike following a track upstream alongside the Rangitata river for two hours. Immediately the new cycling tops were broken in and promptly drenched with sweat as the sun beat down and the wind dropped off. Everyone had a good opportunity to test out their bike frames and technical skills on some of the river bed and scree sections that pocketed the trail. We were fortunate to have Chris Forn – multiple world adventure racing champion join us, who set out with a pace that kept everyone honest.

After a sweat-soaked climb and swift descent we ditched the mountain bikes for hiking shoes and set off for the amusingly named Growler Hut – and a choice of two options: either up the stream and hills to the left to drop down onto the hut (a hike that would take 5 hours and arrive in the dark), or a much easier wander straight up the river bed for 90 minutes to the hut. After some enthusiastic discussion the easier option was selected, with everyone agreeing that a pre-dawn start the next day to knock out the 5 hours of tramping was a better option. The easier option was just that, and after a quick wash in the stream and dinner everyone was lulled to sleep by the babbling brook that ran past the (quite luxurious) Growler hut.

The alarm belted out its tune at 5am, rain pelted on the tin roof, and everyone groaned and pretended not to hear it. Then each team member sprung into their role: the captain checked the conditions and explained his infectious optimism for the day ahead, the motivator told everyone the forecast was for the rain to clear and that they would feel better after breakfast, the navigator very democratically gave everyone the option to go over the ridge line or up the stream, and the pack horse stayed in his warm sleeping bag as long as possible. Once roused the team set off into the pre-dawn showers and straight up the hillside. Grass turned into scree then scree turned into rock as we ascended over 2000m to find our path for the next 2-3 hours. Just as the cold wriggled its way into our bones the weather cleared, the rocky ridge became a scree slope, and we powered down to the stream to follow our way back to the bikes. By the time we reached the bikes we had sore feet and happy smiles.

Wet clothes were discarded, feet were dried and sand flies dodged transitioning to the mountain bikes. The sun was shining and we had a slight down-hill and strong tail wind to push us back to the van. Easy days, well, almost. We had the river to contend with, and it was running surprisingly high. High enough to knock one team member over and float down river. And also high enough to make some crossings quite tricky while carrying a mountain bike on your shoulders. Oh, and we had some camera issues. But it was worth it. Once we scrambled across the various braids it was pretty simple. Despite 6 hours of continuous work everyone was full of energy, having a good supply of tasty food to keep us going all the way back to Mesopotamia.

Bikes, bags, and bodies were loaded back into the van for the final stage of the mission, a rafting expedition down the Rangitata. The nor-wester was up, and it was hot, so scooting down the rapids was a welcome relief. New combinations were tested immediately by the float or flounder principle. The initial combinations were decided by who was organised first, unfortunately Emily was last so she ended up at the front with the least experienced steerer (Rob) while the two most experienced members (Greig and Milan) had already negotiated the first rapid and were waiting downstream. The inexperienced pair shot through the rapid, overtook their team mates and proceeded to set the pace and course down river. Once again paddling combinations, technique, seating position and strategy were experimented to discover the best combination. The wave trains were high, the rafts went straight, and everything went swimmingly (only in the figurative sense, apart from Chris, who was swimming in the river to cool off when we met him).

For the final time we loaded the van and pinned our ears back for Geraldine to unpack and return to the rest of the world. Thank you to Milan for hosting the weekend at your house, planning where to go, organising the boats, and facilitating such a great relationship with Chimpanzee Bar.

Thank you Greig, you have further reinforced my confidence by navigating such an accurate course. Thank you to Emily for your optimism and path finding skills through the streams while I tried to stay upright. And thank you to Chris for testing out how swift the river was running, finding the best path through the hills, and doing the shuttle run for us when we were rafting. I’m looking forward to GODZone, I’m sure you are too.



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