Saving birds and dropping trails


Last week’s highlight was a chance meeting in the woods.

I took a visitor for a big lap, showing him a side of the local trails he had not seen previously. One was a dotted line through the primordial jungle that survives on the wilder side of the forest. We heard a kaka on the way up there, and we talked about how various outfits are running trapping programmes in the forest to give the birds a fighting chance. Cats, rats, weasels and possums are just the front runners in a tribe of interlopers who all eat birds, or out compete them for the stuff the birds eat. 

At the top of our next climb we met a fellow on a mint-looking vintage Nomad, if a carbon bike that was state-of-the-art not so long ago can be considered vintage. It had a very sexy pair of 26” wheels, a feature already as endangered as some of the birds.

But the bike was not the thing that made me stop for a chat. It was the rider’s footwear: a pair of red stripe gumboots. I complimented him on his choice, and he responded by telling us that the pair he had on was brand new, his previous pair having sprung a leak. 

He went on to explain that he was running some traplines for Red Stag Timber, the mill not far from the main trail head in the forest.

He spends a fair bit of his ride bushwhacking, so gumboots are the perfect get-up. Also, he rides flats, so no need to worry about clipping in.

We had a great chat about the forest, birds, trails, and other stuff, including a competition among the staff at the mill: their own in house enduro!

Unsure of the rules, but basically go out and Strava a bevy of trails, and at some point tally up and get a winner.

He was heading back to work I guess, via the longest stage in their in-house enduro… Split Enz > Pondy New > Roller Coaster > Moonshine - well worth giving that set a whirl if you are ever up that way.

What I thought as I bumbled down Te Ahi Manawa with my mate was how great it was that the timber mill ran a trapping programme, and that enough of the mill staff ride that its worthwhile having a staff mountain biking competition. And that a guy could give said contest a red hot go, wearing gumboots.

Kiwi as.



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