My new tramping partner


Took my little girl out for our first bush walk. We had been out before – but only around Mt Albert and Western Springs – this was the first decent walk with her in the backpack.

She is walking now – a little unsteadily, but keen to be down and self-propelling herself. I thought it would be a good opportunity to get both of us out of the house. It was also time to start getting my legs and knees back into action after far too long of a hiatus.

The Trip

As most of you would know, I live in Auckland. Which means limited local hunting spots, but plenty of day walks in the ranges. I have often just headed out into one of them for quick overnight trips. Just walking down a track, then off track, until I found somewhere interesting to set up camp and spend a night.

I haven’t walked an enormous amount of the tracks available. Often heading back into the same tracks to explore new areas off them. So I thought I would pick a popular, but new spot for me. Fairy Falls.

Generally heading somewhere and starting a walk from a car park full of cars would be unappealing. But I already know that the little one loves waterfalls – so I figured it would be a good option.


So, if you know much about me or my history – I am known to pack everything including the kitchen sink for even a day way. My brief stints with the MSC and LandSAR trained me to carry enough to cover any eventuality – even on a day walk. A day walk with my little girl? Even more to pack! I managed to pare everything down to reasonable levels. You know, weighing up the likelihood I was going to be stuck out in the bush for a week with her. I managed to get things down to a reasonable level, packed up the Macpac Vamoose and headed out.

To the Waitakeres!

Heading out mid-week means that there aren’t as many people about as there would be otherwise. Which meant there was only the one coach sitting in the carpark as I arrived.

I hopped out of the truck, got the pack out and realised that the little one was already asleep in the back. She must have only just dozed off. So as I opened the door, she awoke and realised she was off on an adventure.

While she is walking some, I wasn’t going to set her off straight away down a track. So I popped her into a pack and headed off.

It’s not a long trip – if you are planning to head down to the falls and back up from the main carpark end. I am now used to hunters tracks or off track navigation. So it was easy going – however, there is still the little matter of the steps.

Getting to the top of the falls, the little one saw her first proper waterfall. Enough that there was more than one cry (scream?) of complaint as we headed away down further. Thankfully – distraction! We were on our way again. Snacks were had at the bottom and a little play in the water then we headed back up.

The little girl is at the age where she is mimicking things. So I found it rather amusing when she started panting and grunting along with me as I climbed back up the stairs. I swear she started giggling at me at one point as well.

I am not in shape. I haven’t been doing a huge amount of anything for the last year. With a little one and another one the way – multi-day trips became quite rare, and even the gym fell by the wayside. Some steps with 18-month-old girl on your back was a bit of a wakeup. Good, though.

Can you tell the sections where she was walking?

It was a simple, quick trip. Got a little bit of work into the legs and the little girl loved it. So, it has become a goal of mine to tick at least one walk into the bush off per month. Doesn’t have to be long, just needs to be out there, surrounded by trees and bush and birds. And dirt – she just loves the dirt.

Heading back home – it occurred to me that I should pop into the visitor centre at Arataki and try to get a ‘park map’ that we can mark off together. Next time.

The Gear

Macpac Vamoose Child Carrier

This was my first proper trip out with the little one in the pack. Walking up and around Mt Albert had already convinced me that the pack was going to work well. This was the first time I had her and a daypack worth of extra clothing, food and baby essentials. It handled it admirably.

I had dropped the child carrier seat down a rung before heading out. We started putting her into it when she was around one. As she has grown taller, her weight has moved upwards. So dropping the seat back down dropped her weight down my back. It meant that her movements were less likely to tip me around as she now had less leverage working on my centre of gravity. Sure – the couple of times she leant out to grab a branch still threw me a little bit. But not enough to shift my step or cause concern.

While the frame isn’t on pair with my Mystery Ranch Nice Frame – it is fine for the expected weight on it. I didn’t get sore shoulders or hips. Though will reserve final judgement until I have spent a full day with her and the pack. Though by the time we are ready to do that, she will weigh even more, but likely be walking more as well.

I will be adding a water bottle holder to the hip pads. I already have an MR solution. It means I will be able to have a drink of water without taking the pack off to get at the bottle holders.

This is a great pack. I look forward to using it more.

Adidas AX2 Mid GTX Shoes

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Boots really.

All my tramping/hiking/outdoors shoes have become hunting boots over the last couple of years. Either that or my IPSC Pistol Shoes – the Salomon Speedcross 3’s which are a little aggressive for a trail shoe (though will likely get some use).

I thought I would grab myself a general use ‘outdoors’ shoe and found the Adidas AX2 online. Popped into a store, they fitted well and purchased them (yes, I also got the little girl a pair of Adidas shoes as well – sucker for a classic).

Like most modern synthetic shoes – the break in was minimal. I have the tongue of the left-hand side pushing a little into my shin. But have had it before and know they will settle with a little use.

Closer to a sneaker than a boot, I slipped them over some Icebreaker Tramp Socks (a little heavy for the day) laced them up and headed off.

Didn’t notice much at all on the way down (in a good way). Upon reaching the waterfall and rocks at the bottom, I was a little hesitant to step out onto the mossy/slippery rocks. I have had a bad experience with some rather high-end trail running shoes that were just flat out dangerous on rocks. So I was taking it slowly, especially because I had the little one strapped onto my back.

The AX2s performed admirably. After some more testing, I was comfortable walking out over the slimly rocks that took the water from the waterfall on its way.

Heading up I decided to have a bit of play with the lacing. The boots were a little tight around the top. I pulled the laces out a couple of eyelets and put a surgeon knot in there to keep the bottom half tight and let me loosen off the tops. Works well, but is a little bit of a pain because I have to lace the boots, not just speed lace like I can in some of my others.

Overall, though – again, very impressed. Will let you know how I feel about them after a few more trips.

Oh. Also. The camera on the iphone6 is shit. Still have to carry a proper one it seems.