The land of sheep and chocolate

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Stuck in the Mud With Two Dogs and a Baby

I should have heeded the warning signs. God knows there were enough of them on the way into the Tararua Ranges Reserve. "This is a multiple hazard area" proclaimed one as we drove past. "Proceed only in groups of four" said another, in large letters. We should have known it was dangerous. But we carried on just the same. We thought to ourselves: "Surely those are just for stupid people". Possibly, they are.

The Tararua Park is about 10km out of Levin. We had taken the dogs out for a walk at the Gladstone Reserve, a small park by a bend in the river. But having just moved to the area, we're keen to see what it has to offer and we ventured further out. The Gladstone Reserve, pretty as it is, is strictly for a quick mooch and covers only a few acres. The Tararua Park, however, is a real tramping track, leading up into the mountains where serious weather can happen. There's a seven hour walk to a Department of Conservation hut, where the intrepid can camp for the night. From there I believe you can cross the ranges, over peaks as high as Snowdon, to Masterton, some 50km away. That's real hardcore though.

We were only driving through and we felt safe as we passed through a field of cows, huge green mountains rising before us. I drove slowly onward along the single track, pausing for a baby cow to cross the road. There didn't seem much to see though, really, for a casual vist, so I just thought I'd turn the car round by backing into the field.

Big mistake that.

There comes a point when you are getting stuck in the mud, that you realise that you are getting stuck in the mud. At that point, there seems nothing to do but carry on in the hope you don't get stuck in the mud. But you probably will get stuck in the mud. As we did.

Then a kind of panic sets in. The car can't be moved by normal means and it is just too heavy to push the front wheels out of the holes they have dug. Things are much worse on a cold day with a baby and with two delinquent dogs howling away in the boot.

By some amazing stroke of good fortune it was at this point that a saviour arrived for us in a gleaming new Toyota Corolla. I reckon you could easily wait all evening and no-one would drive past. A Kiwi bloke and his wife got out and he took charge of the situation. Between us, we pushed and bounced the Mazda out of the mud and back onto firmer ground. Then we shook hands, he cleaned the mud off his boots and drove away. What a man.

By the look of it, I had reversed directly into the worst patch of mud in the field. Three feet to the left or right and we would probably have got away with it. But if that man in his blue Toyota hadn't been there, the situation could have been awful.

Next time, we'll be more careful.


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