This is just a small taster of the adventures of Alexis, Lydia, Allan & Mark while on their epic journey traversing the length of the South Island. They have had terrible luck with the weather... which does for some great storytelling. For the rest of their blog and more images, follow the link at the bottom of this post. Fingers crossed for some better weather!

I'm writing on the eve of our return into the whelm of the Southern Alps after a much needed week of R&R. In my case, this consisted in getting clambered on by three adorable niblings, doting over the 4th and most recent arrival, spending a lot of time either reclined, on my arse or close to the ground and eating like a 15-year-old going through a growth spurt. I found myself mooching around the kitchen less than a quarter of an hour after a holiday-season-sized meal, inhaling toast, drinking stone fruit or hoovering Weetbix.

It's not as if we've been going hungry on our trip. If anything we've over-catered (helped in part by the temporary loss of the 4th party member). But I weighed myself when I got out and was surprised to find I'd lost 6 kgs over the two months of travel so far. Those who know me well can vouch that I don't carry much of a spare tyre, nor can I boast much of what Lyd's calls a doughnut (try bunching your stomach pudge around your navel with both hands), in everyday life- so I don't know where I kept this spare trammel. But I'd noticed Lydia and Allan thinning out gradually and acquiring the wiry lope and gaunt leather faces of alpine animals and Mark commentED I how lean I looked when he joined us. Lydia's doughnut test has proved a useful yardstick of mass-loss; we are now down to pretzel-size.

Flippant observations aside, we were interested to observe the weight-loss in spite of our generous rations. It suggests that averaging c. 1000 vertical meters per day and 8hrs of walking is clearly something that our bodies have a hard time sustaining. We've been burning up our fat reserves and converting some surplus muscle mass into energy. After a challenging week between the Rakaia and the Godley valleys, we all started observing a decline in the maximum power output of our muscles. No doubt there is a corresponding increase in our muscular endurance. It is interesting to discover the limitations of our bodies as they adapt and optimise to the rigours of transalpine tramping.

After the short unplanned break in Christchurch in mid-December, we set off back up the Rakaia late afternoon on December 18th. The weather was almost as stroppy as when we'd half-walked, half been blown out of the valley a few days earlier. After leaning into a wall of wind for a couple of hours, admiring the scudding clouds and patches of golden evening light, we put up at Thompsons Hut at Washbourne Creek (the hut is private and belongs to Lake Heron station). On Monday we picked up our food-drop at Reischek and further whittled it down: the initial drop was for 12 days travel to Godley Hut for 4 people, we were now 3 and had a passable forecast that should allow us to complete the section in under 8 days. Reischek hut now boasts a literal bucket-load of food for future stranded/gluttonous parties. Don't get too excited, its mostly dehy and peanuts.

Read more (and you definitely want to!) here...