Monday, 10 June 2013

"......To all the boots I've worn before...."

My tramping footwear rogues gallery...

Here is my gallery of tramping boots/shoes I have worn and destroyed, I will add to this as time goes on! I will include before and after shots, and make some comment on quality etc.

Wearing my Lowa Tibets, Waimakiriri Valley, 2018

Hi Tec Bryce, light hiking boot  (2012-2015) (Retired)

I brought a pair of these last year, I didn't have the cash to buy a more rugged pair of boots because of all of the other tramping gear I needed. They have worked well and have seen me through all of my trips over Spring/Summer/Autumn 2012-13. I didn't expect them to last but I have been pleasantly surprised with how well they have stood up.  The uppers are still fine,  they have just starting to show signs of wear.

I think they are good value for the $140 asking price. I will continue to use them for formed tracks i.e. those on the Port Hills. These could also be used on the Great Walks.

Hi Tec Bryce, 2012

Wearing my Hi Tecs up the East Hawdon Valley, 2013

July 2014:I have been using these boots for my fitness walking for about the last year, they are still holding out fine, I estimate I will need to dispose of them later this year as they have started to wear down on the sole. 
2017: I am only using these in the garden now as the stitching has started to unravel- they will get chucked when no longer useful 

Note: 2018 The Hi-Tecs have gone to the great tramping home in the sky...

Kathmandu Barigan, medium boot (2013-2015) (Retired)

I have recently acquired a pair of these boots for the very reasonable price of $100, they are  a replacement for the Hi-Tec boots I have been using. I know Kathmandu does not have great name when it comes to durability, even if they only last a season they will have repaid my investment. Significantly they have a hard Vibram sole and are much stiffer than the Hi Tec's. 
Kathmandu Barigan, 2013
At the half way point in the Nina Valley in 2015

July 2014: I used these boot for all of the 2013/14/15 tramping season and found them very comfortable. Unfortunately they are starting to delaminate (a common problem), I have glued them up and will use them for day walks on the Port Hills etc. I should get a least another years use out of them on these shorter trips. They lasted as my primary boots for a year so they were worth the $100 I paid for them.

2017: Still using them around the house for yard work. 

Wearing the Barigans on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, 2017

Sept 2017: I wore these very successfully on the Abel Tasman Coast Walk although they are now finished as tramping boots.  

The Barigans after completing the Abel Tasman Coastal Track 2017

Note: 2018 The Barrigans have gone to the great tramping home in the sky...

Asolo 535 TPS, medium boot (Sold)

I brought myself a pair of Asolo 535 boots for the rocky gravel bashing trips I sometimes go on. These boots are from a good quality European maker, they have a much stiffer sole and the ubiqitious Vibram sole on them. I'm in the process of wearing them in as we speak. Obviously, because they are made in Europe the price is steeper, $500 for this type and brand.

Asolo 535, 2013

July 2014: I have now sold these boots as they were slightly too small for my feet. They are excellent boots so I will potentially buy a larger size some time in the future.

La Sportiva Valojet, medium boot (2014 - ) (Stored)

I've recently brought myself a new pair of leather boots for the coming Summer tramping season. I have been wearing a pair of Kathmandu boots but as is the case with their gear they have started to fall to bits. These boots are Italian, La Sportiva Valojets, a medium weight leather boot with a Goretex liner, with a good quality Vibram sole. These ones were $350 on sale, normally $600.

La Sportiva Valojet, 2014

The Valojet's going strong on the QCT, 2016

The Valojets on the Harpers Pass track in 2017

Update 2018: I have been using these very successfully for several years now and they are awesome. Comfortable right out of the box, quality materials and great workmanship are worth paying for in my opinion. The soles are still fine, the only damage is a rip in the rubber rand I got on the third trip wearing these boots (barbed wire fence...). 

La Sportiva boots are fantastic, I would buy these again but unfortunately they have gone out of production. 

Currently stored in my garage as a back up pair of boots...

Lowa Tibet GTX, boots (2017-)   (Current Boots)

My newest and most expensive piece of tramping kit are a pair of Lowa Tibet boots. My La Sportiva's are starting to wear at toe and heel which is common for me. To this end I purchase a new pair of boots before the old ones wear out. I am currently wearing these in by wearing them to work and around the house.

Lowa Tibet GTX boots: I have big feet...size 13UK/14US/49EU

Lowa is a well known German company with a reputation for quality gear. These boots are great but quality comes at a cost...they cost an arm and a leg...$700 NZD for a pair. 

Lowa Tibet GTX boots: the lacing system

Lowa Tibet GTX boots: the chunky Vibram sole
I've used these boots on a number of tramps now and they have performed very well. They are heavier than some others I have worn but excellent for rough muddy tracks and off track travel. I have recently brought another pair of Lowa's in this case the lighter Lowa Ranger III, so I currently have two excellent pairs of boots to wear as the terrain dictates. 

Wearing my Lowa's at the Packhorse Bivvy, 2018

Lowa Ranger III (2018 -  )

My Lowa Tibets are awesome boots but I also needed some lighter weight boots for walking the more front country tracks like the Great Walks (like the Abel Tasman Coast Track) and other less rugged trips.

The Lowa Ranger III boot 

I went with Lowa once again and brought a pair of their Ranger III's in a sale at Hunting and Fishing in late 2017. These are a lot lighter than the Lowa Tibet's but with the same excellent materials, comfort and craftsmanship.  

Great Vibram soles on the Lowa Ranger III

I'm currently wearing them in before putting them to use later this year...

Front view of the Ranger III boots

Asics Mens Gel Sonoma 4E, Trail Shoes (2015- )

These are my current general purpose trail shoes, I am onto my second pair of these. I use these for general fitness walking as well as trips along the Port Hills and on day trips when the weather is fine. I wouldn't use these for a long hike like the Te Araroa, although they might make fair work of even that trail.

Asics Men's Gel Sonoma 4E Trail Shoes

My first pair lasted for about 14 months before they started to fall to bits. For $150 that is pretty good going when you consider that I use them for at least one 10-15 km walk every second weekend. I suppose I could go for a $300 pair of Asolo/Salewa/North Face/Innov8 trail walking shoes but why, these work just fine. 
Sole on Sonoma Trail shoes

I brought them from Rebel Sport, they are still available at the time of writing (September 2016).

When my second pair wear out I will definitely buy these again if they are still available. 

My Sonomas in use on the Christchurch 360, 2016

Note: 2018 I'm currently wearing my third pair of these fine shoes, but they are now out of production...

Hi-Tec Trail Blazer Outdoors Shoes (2015- ) (Retired)

I was using a pair of these before i switched to the Asics shown above.  I mainly purchased them because they were cheap ($130 NZD) at a time when I could not afford better quality footwear.

Hi-Tec Trail Blazer Trail shoe

Wearing the Blazers on a section of the Christchurch 360 Trail

 These shoes were good for the first 4 months and then they started to disintegrate. First the inner soles wore through so I replaced with after market versions. Next the stitching started to unravel, this was repaired. I finally retired them when the sole delaminated, I have glued the sole back on but they cannot be trusted over a long distance. 

Hi Tec shoes are fine for around town but I just don't think they are rugged enough for trail use. 

I use these around the garden now.

Note: 2018 The Blazers have gone to the great tramping home in the sky...

East Hawdon River: Arthurs Pass National Park: 22-23 Feb 2013

The East Hawdon Valley: A route less travelled...

In February I went for an overnight trip up to East Hawdon Biv, on a tributary of the Hawdon river. The first part of the trip is the easy 4 W/D track going up the Hawdon valley. Once you reach the East Hawdon confluence the real fun begins. There is no official track up the East Hawdon, it is a route using the riverbed and short sections of bush track cut by members of the Permolat group. 

Mid way up the East Hawdon Valley, Arthurs Pass NP

Permolat are a group of trampers who maintain seldom visited tracks and huts in the South Island. 
The Department of Conservation or DOC is strapped for cash, they lack the  resources to maintain every track and hut in the back country. Individuals and volunteer groups have started to assist with this task.

Hawdon Shelter to the East Hawdon confluence

Day One: Start in the Hawdon Valley

As with all trips here you start at the Hawdon Shelter, make sure you sign the intentions book before you go, and for gods sake sign out when you are finished. Don't linger or the sand flies will carry you off!
I'm not kidding......they are HUGH, vicious and love the human have been warned!

Hawdon shelter near the campsite
Once over the Hawdon River and Sudden Valley Stream look for the old 4 W/D track for the fastest travel up valley. It really is worthwhile to find this track as it will save you a good 30 minutes.

Over the Hawdon River, Arthurs Pass NP

Approaching Sudden Valley Stream in the Hawdon Valley

Hawdon Valley, 4 W/D track

You eventually pass through a patch of re-generating bush just before the Hawdon - East Hawdon River confluence.

Hawdon Valley, just before confluence with the East Hawdon

 Officially there is no track from this point, this is a route so you set your own course. You follow the river bed from this point, there are some short sections of track mostly on the true right of the valley, keep an eye out for these as they make the travelling much easier.

East Hawdon marked track, make your own!

View up East Branch Hawdon river, rocky!
After the first shingle flat the valley narrows, you will need to find the best line up the valley. This may be impossible if there has been any rain as the East Hawdon is prone to flooding.

There are several points where you MUST cross the river, they were all easy crossings on this day. I ended up crossing the river 17 times going up, a lot less coming back as I found all the short sections of track.
 Believe me, I wasn't crossing the river just for fun but because I needed to!

East Hawdon gorge..river crossing 1-3...

It is a very beautiful valley, quiet and tranquil, I only saw one hunter the whole day, although there was another woman working her way up the valley ahead of me. I never actually saw her, only her boot prints here and there.

Beautiful East Hawdon Valley
The valley is alternate shingle flats, bush and gorges, with the occasional rock clamber, it is rugged but not too technical.

East Hawdon: river bed travel prevails for most of the day

Because I missed some of the short track sections I ended up climbing over some rocky areas I could have bypassed. The tracks seem to have been cut from the top of the valley down, so are more visible when going down valley.

Look for the tracks- mostly on the true right!

East Hawdon: more boulders, oh joy!
This large shingle flat is just beyond the halfway point, it is the widest part of the valley.
East Hawdon- river flat, half way point

Half way point, East Hawdon..nice camp-site over the river

Break time, and boy did I need it by here as it was HOT.. about 25 degrees on the day. There is a nice river terrace behind me which would make a good camping spot if you only wanted a taste of this valley. Large flat area, well away from the river and some vegetation to protect you from wind.

East Hawdon: Jon says...Howdy!

Below is a scree slope which reaches from the top of the Blackball Ridge (near Pt 1695) all the way down to the river. You must walk on the side nearest to the slide as there is a series of deep pools on the true left. Don't stop here as there is absolutely no cover if a rock decides to come down. I took this photo while moving!

Scree slide East Hawdon, 3/4 way to biv- Don't stop here!

This point is about 1 km from the bivy, there is just the one last gorge before you reach it.

East Hawdon, second gorge near the biv

Look for the sidle track on the true right, it completely avoids this whole second gorge.The biv is about 20 minutes up valley from this gorge.

Second East Hawdon gorge, sidle track on true right of valley
N.B: (2017) I slipped over near here- I landed on my leg and it hurt like hell. I thought it might be broken but was not. It got me to thinking about how long I would be stuck here if I had broken my leg. As a result I first borrowed then brought my own personal locator beacon, I now carry one on every tramp.

View down valley from near East Hawdon Biv
Eventually you will reach the East Hawdon Biv, which is a fine example of the new 2 bunk bivs that DOC are building. Upper Poulter and Sudden Valley are of the exact same design.

East Hawdon Biv (2007)

East Hawdon hut details

East Howden Biv with fire pit to right
East Hawdon biv has two bunks with enough space for another person on the floor. There are no seating benches (use the bed) but there is a cooking bench and a good supply of reading material. There is a toilet- water comes from the nearby river. There are some small tent sites near the biv, but they are rocky and not well protected from the wind.

East Hawdon Biv: Interior, typical 2 person biv
Make sure you open the windows while you are here, especially when cooking. These small spaces build up moisture and carbon monoxide really fast. There are bug screens on the windows so you can open them and not get eaten alive. 

Interior of East Hawdon Biv, quite tidy.

The view out of East Hawdon Biv window
I spent a very quiet night by myself at the bivouac: dinner was steak, spuds, peas with gravy and a can of beer. I heard several kiwi calling during the night, one quite close to the biv so there must be a few in the area.
Jon at East Hawdon Biv...tea in hand. Cheers!
I also saw a herd of 4-6 deer on the opposite slope of the valley, they moved back and forth grazing for about an hour in the late afternoon.

Deer were on this slope opposite East Hawdon Biv

Day Two: Heading back to Hawdon Shelter

The next day was also beautifully sunny, I rose early and set off back down the valley to the car. It was a glorious morning and I made excellent time as I discovered all of the sidle tracks I missed on the previous day.

River terrace next to East Hawdon Biv, looking down valley

East Hawdon Biv sitting on its river terrace

There are some big mountain ranges in this area, the surrounding peaks are in the 1600-1800 metre range, this tends to make the valley a bit dark and intimidating.

I have heard it is perishingly cold up here in winter.

Savannah Range, head of East Hawdon

The East Hawdon, a scree slope you have to get past
There is a sidle track to the true right of this gorge that runs through the forest down valley for about 1 km from here, it is worth following it to speed your journey home.
East Hawdon Gorge from above, track to right of picture
Eventually you reach the last gorge in the valley, from here there is just the slog down the last shingle flat and then onto the trusty Hawdon Valley 4 W/D track.

View back into East Hawdon Gorge at the valley end

East Hawdon, view down to the Hawdon River confluence

The trusty Hawdon Valley 4 W/D track

Hawdon river looking towards the Pyramid (1608 metres)
I really enjoyed this trip, the valley is beautiful, the route rugged without being dangerous, the biv is excellent. I would totally recommend it for a small group or individual, provided you realise that this is a route, not a track.  I would not go here if it is raining as I can see that several of the river crossings would be difficult if not impossible with any rain.

 I would wear heavier tramping boots next time.  Walking over the rocks will give you sore feet unless you are wearing good boots. I had my light Hi-Tecs on and my feet were feeling the pain by the end of the second day.

My lightweight Hi Tec boots in the Hawdon Valley

I will be back again, this is a great location!

Access: SH73 to the Mt White Road turn off, once over the Mt White bridge head left to Hawdon Shelter. From Hawdon Shelter follow the track crossing the Hawdon River and Sudden Valley Stream, follow the 4 W/D track up valley. Turn right up East Hawdon and make own route.
Track Times: 4-5 hours from the Hawdon Shelter
Hut Details: Hawdon Shelter: day shelter only- no bunks, no water but does have open fireplace. There are plenty of rough camp-sites here: East Hawdon Biv; basic, 2 bunks, space for a third on floor, water from stream, outside fire pit.
Miscellaneous: Hawdon River, East Hawdon and Sudden Valley Stream susceptible to flooding in heavy rain, none of the rivers or side streams are bridged. Numerous required river crossings. This IS NOT a wet weather destination.