Behaviour of Large Groups in Huts
I loved the Old Ghost Rd tramp. The geology, bird and plant life was spectacular. The planning into the track formation and the huts was admirable. Everyone we met was considerate and companionable except for a group of 14 mountain bikers. Their behaviour has prompted me to give feedback. As we four occupants were settling down to sleep around 8pm at Ghost Lake Hut on 27/02/21 we were told that a group of 14 mountain bikers were starting to arrive. We initially thought this was a joke. They came in and we made them welcome, letting them know about the shower and how to turn on the gas rings etc. The six other people staying there in the private huts had also settled in for the night. However when we went to bed this group of MTBikers acted as though there was no one else in the hut to show consideration to. They talked in loud voices, banged doors and stomped around on the wooden floor as they cooked their meals. When I heard through my ear plugs that one was planning to light the fire with 18 occupants in the hut on a mild evening, I rose and informed the individual that he was not to light the fire as it would make the hut too warm and people would be unable to sleep. Despite this I realized he had gone off and chopped kindling so I poured 2 kettles of cold water into the unlit ashes (the next morning I cleared out the firebox and left it dry). At 9.30pm an elderly woman got up and requested they keep the noise levels down. By this time I'd gone elsewhere to try and sleep. We were feeling very angry with their behaviour. In the morning we got away early from the very warm hut and were startled by their hurtling down the track without warning, as we approached the Spent River valley. There was only one considerate member of the group (he had a beard) who let us know how many people were following after - as per MTBiker protocol which every other MTBiking group we met had observed. While we were staying at Ghost Lake Hut, a young dark-headed woman entered the lake for a complete immersion swim despite the sign telling her not to do so . Later that evening after the firebox issue I told her she was an environmental vandal and that I would report her. This group didn't have any grown-up women with them and perhaps this is why they behaved so badly. They described themselves as farmers from around Rangiora. If so, their behaviour has given farmers a bad name. The only explanation I can think of why someone would have wanted to light the fire is that they wanted to burn some rubbish they were carrying. It was so hot one of their group chose to sleep in the entrance annex. When we stopped on the track to let the group pass, I mentioned to my companion that someone I know would have placed logs across the track in retaliation for their oafish behaviour. I have been on tracks used by MTBikers where this had obviously been done.
That’s a real shame. The old ghost road was a track that I’ve been interested in, but in the last few years I’ve mostly heard it talked about as a mtb route which took the appeal off for me, mostly for the unpleasantness of sharing the trail with people on faster machines, as well as the clear cultural differences between MTBing and tramping (the former being mostly a front country sport). I was also turned off by the folks who it seemed to attract. Not necessarily well experienced mountain bikers, and the general impression I got is they were going in groups with their “lads” as a “boys trip” kind of thing. One friends’ boss helicoptered them into a high point with water bladders of vodka (he assured me they weren’t dickheads but who knows). In any case I’ve experienced similar behavior from inexperienced and/or obnoxious trampers in huts. I always bring something to put over my eyes and earplugs if I’ll be staying in huts, and that usually has made it manageable.
Oh thats really bad luck. Ive walked the OGR twice last year, and had no issues at all with bikers. The second time our group of four were the only walkers. First trip was mostly walkers, so it does vary a bit. The bikers we met were really polite on the track, and good company in the huts. My only observation would be that they lacked hut etiquete that trampers generally have. This was mostly just spreading their gear all over the hut and tables, so not really a major. On my second trip there were wardens at Ghost Lake Hut. What a shame that wasnt the case for you, as I suspect your experience would have been a lot more pleasant.
"The only explanation I can think of why someone would have wanted to light the fire is that they wanted to burn some rubbish they were carrying. It was so hot one of their group chose to sleep in the entrance annex" There are an amazing number of people that believe you always have to light thre fire even if it serves no useful purpose. It doesnt help that Doc lists the fire as a cooking appliance so a hut with a fire could become a serviced hut at 3 times the price. Only extra amenity you get is the fire so why not use it and turn the hut into a sauna. Ive moved outside as soon as someone else often from a different group lit the fire in an already warm enough hut just because they could. As for the mountain bikers They do use the same outdoor code we do or at least they should. Most I have met have been quite good although not all. They are still a new thing in the bush and eventually they will learn the things they need to get along with everyone else. One thing about Ghost road though to remember is that although it is a shared use trail it was created by mountain bikers. Maybe on that trail at least they do have reason to feel superiority of sorts
i was in a hut one night, a group of teenage boys were swearing their heads off, F this, F that. i joked to the school teacher i was tramping with to throw the big billy of dishwater we were washing in over them... he promptly grabbed the billy, walked up to the teens and in no uncertain terms told them he would throw the dishwater on them if they kept swearing.... worked perfectly...
My friend is off cycling the Old Ghost Road this weekend. She is a tramper as well as biker - also a sensible Mum in her 40s - so I'm sure they will behave!!
i've read a few accounts where there are differences between bikers and trampers, to generalise, trampers go to bed earlier, bikers often less tired, stay up later, making varying amoutns of noise dependig on the group
Haha, used to have a similar issue with anglers staying up late. As we would get up earlier we would reciprocate by making enough noise to wake them up. I did get a tasty trout once (garnished with lemon slices), so they aren't all inconsiderate :)
Not that it'll resolve these issues and I've not followed the OGR since it was cut, but if conditions and skills allow (and @Honora obviously qualifies) and there's interest in avoiding some crowds, then it's not a bad diversion to drop from around Lyell Saddle into the top of the South Branch of the Mokihinui and follow it instead. Maybe it's more of a valley trip than the Old Ghost Road. I did that with a tramping club group about 11 years ago and it was fab, at about the time of all the dam controversy. We did get stuck behind high rivers for a couple of days on the true left of the Mokihinui, at the confluence with Goat Creek, but otherwise all good.
I have tramped OGR four times and never once had a problem - mainly because we take a large enough group to control everything - very few spare beds. We are also pretty old and very gnarly and don't hesitate in educating any who need to learn about hut protocols. Another great option is to walk it in the winter. The weather is often better - cold to be sure - but less variable.
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