Mount Lowry: Measuring Nature-based Fitness & Environmental Success

So, whānau: where’s the one place you hike to, to measure your own fitness, and potential success?

‘Cos clearly, for ‘challenge’ and ‘aspiration’ to cohesively co-exist, you need yardsticks – otherwise, how do you even see that ever-lurking ledge-cum-tipping-point distinguishing “fine” from “fucking disaster”, and ultimately separate the two, when you’re in full-swing out there in the wilderness and absolutely need to?

Experience has shown me the value in having a particular route that provides personal, pertinent answers, so I can therefore assess rather than guess (thus avoiding the many levels and layers of “situational shit” that tend to accompany ignorance, arrogance, sheer carelessness, and (*or) selective stupidity.

For me, that’s Mount Lowry.

Factor the three kilometre coastal roadside ‘warm-up’ from Day’s Bay to the Cheviot Road entrance, and Lowry’s fourteen or-so kilometres of karaka (New Zealand laurel), kahikatea (white pine), and kānuka (white tea tree) comprise an interesting, variable, oft ‘undulating’ (read: “mildly traumatic”) ‘papa-tākaro’ (“playground”) to test those all-important fitness fundamentals well.

This one’s a marathon rather than (anything even mildly resembling) a sprint, and with four fairly gutsy hill-climbs before you even see the “summit” (a ‘lookout’ just below the trig), you’re doing well to simply tackle each one as an opportunity to scramble to the top without pausing or stopping.

All views are in the bush-line, which is fine (the ‘lookout’ view’s underwhelming, unfortunately), with few/er ‘wide-lens’ distractions, and very little to stop you from continuing to push up, and push hard.

Plus, the view at the top of said ‘pushy-parts’ is always worthy of a few moments of your time, and some sagacious supping (take the time to sensibly sup-up before the next one).

From the ‘lookout’ (halfway, give or take, and distinguishable by meagre ocean views, a bench seat, and the chance to choose ‘Wainui’), my tendency is to aim for the ‘Korimako Track’ exit route – mainly because the ‘Kererū Track’ is one I’ve done previously (*and am not particularly fond of due to the atrocious fucking downhill), and for me, Korimako’s still ‘wero’ (“challenge”) enough.

Sufficiently hard-core (for me), multiple times now I’ve had a much easier, more comfortable time of things in higher, ‘alpine-zone’ environments if my experience/s up here have trended towards:

  • Pacing (*not racing(!));
  • Climbing peaks without pause (and savouring the top/s);
  • Pack fitness (and variable pack weights);
  • Drinking to thirst (rather than, say, simply for the sake of); and,
  • Snacking at specific, recognisable stages (and noticing how I’m feeling).

‘Tis, by all measures and accounts, my perfect rehearsal space.

‘Haere pai atu, hoki ora mai nei’ – or: “Go well, and return safely”, always;


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