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Old March 18, 2017, 00:32   #1
Andy the Aussie
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New Zealand....

As background, my best friend (since we were kids) and I took off for the North Island of New Zealand on 27 Feb gone. He is turning 50 later this month and decided last year this is what he wanted to do to celebrate.

Nominally we were there to hunt Sika Deer. We went in on public land in the Kaweka State Park. It is managed by the Department of Conservation (DoC) and, like so much of NZ, hunters are welcome. We booked a helicopter to fly us in and drop us near a DoC hut from which we decided to base.

Some shopping...



Our ride...



And us admiring our ride...






Without any doubt the Hughes/MD 500 is my favourite rotary wing aircraft in the world. We were like kids at a carnival for both the trips in and out. The two pilots were great and made it that much more enjoyable !!

The vid of them flying a couple of fisherman into a different area before returning for us.....

[video=youtube;buXEsLBGUD4]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buXEsLBGUD4&t=4s[/video]

And a still I grabbed from a short video (short because I accidentally cut it off) as he was throttling up to take back off after our drop off...



We arrived at the chopper base around 0830 for a 0930 flight in, however the weather was garbage and we all (us, the fishermen and two DoC workers heading into another area) sat around drinking coffee and such for a couple of hours till the cloud started to lift. Then with a rush and a bang we were sitting alone in the wilderness....and happy to be so !!!
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Originally posted by GOVT1911
You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
(Jiminy Christmas, did I just recommend a 'yota?!!??)
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Old March 18, 2017, 00:34   #2
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The mate with his pipe making a comment about it looking to be "all uphill from here"...



...and he was right !!!

The hut...



Creek adjacent to the hut....



So then we decided to make the climb up to the nearest ridge... a climb we became well acquainted with and which never failed to get the legs and lungs burning.....

The view back down our little valley once we got up there...



The hut from up there....



And the mate taking it all in...



It was here that my trip almost (effectively) ended. While attempting to return my heart rate and breathing to something akin to normal I was sitting in some grass and lifted my leg up... to my horror the sole of my right boot was peeling off from the heal.... WTF !!!!!!!! They are good quality boots ($500 or so Zamberlans) and one of three pairs I own. One othe rpair I have been hunting etc in for the past five years and they have been flogged...!!! The only reason I didn't take them was I was worried they would choose this trip to fail.... This pair I had on I started wearing just before I went to Africa and were (till last month) simply my around two boots, no hard work, just breaking in. Now if the sole detached 100% or I could not fix it someway the odds of long walking on steep ground were against me. So instead of pressing on further that afternoon we remained on this ridge and cast the binoculars around.

In doing so I did spy a young Sika Stag who I could have easily taken....but chose not to...



We headed down before dark as the mate remembered he had packed a tube of super glue in the first aid kit. Frankly I was not at all confident it would hold but it was my only real option. I cleaned the boot up (and discovered that the left boot sole was starting to detach as well) and then applied the glue and taped it all into place. I was preoccupied most of the night assuming the sole would detach almost right away with wear and flex....
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Originally posted by GOVT1911
You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
(Jiminy Christmas, did I just recommend a 'yota?!!??)
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Old March 18, 2017, 00:35   #3
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So to see if the boots had any chance we decided to take a “short walk” up and along the ridge before dropping down to a DoC “Bivy”. I can happily say I think that the walking was uphill in every direction…even when walking back. Just as you think you are there another climb looms before you…LOL However after a couple of hours walking (and gasping) we dropped down to the Bivy…and found it was occupied (he was out hunting)…



We both needed a little stretch and rest, along with topping up the water bottles…



And little did I know when I got him to snap this pic just how well acquainted I was going to get with that SMALL orange box !!



Then we started back…

Up on the ridgeline…



And after a couple of hrs walking….back in our hut…I was, to say the least, SHAGGED…. !!!



One high point, and I had been agonising it, my boots were still holding together, though were no longer waterproof !

Then, as is the norm it seems in NZ… the weather rolled in….

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Originally posted by GOVT1911
You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
(Jiminy Christmas, did I just recommend a 'yota?!!??)
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Old March 18, 2017, 00:36   #4
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So the next day we woke and (to my surprise it was clear). We decided to head up the ridge we had followed down the day before. This would let us glass the top of our little valley as well as over into the next. It was also the trail to follow to the highest peak in the Kawekas…but of course we are not walking all the way up there…

Him taking in the views…



Rifles..



Glassing the slopes..



Gratuitous glamour pic of my old companion (bought that bang stick in 1983)…



The views about…







That always happy hunter…



Possibly my favourite pic, two more steps and it was a long fall, but I did feel a strange comfort in this country (up high, more about low later)…



Him doing the same..

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Originally posted by GOVT1911
You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
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Old March 18, 2017, 00:37   #5
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Soooo….remember what I said about “not walking all the way to the peak”…yeah you guessed it….

This is a memorial to the “Tramping Club Members (1939 – 1945) that first started hiking this area ..



View from the top back toward Mount Ruapehu (active volcano)..



Him at the high point…



Me…looking like the Michelin Man (thanks to the howling wind up there)…



And then the walk back started…





And, several hours later, back at camp…note the orderly distribution of gear drying out….

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Originally posted by GOVT1911
You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
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Old March 18, 2017, 00:39   #6
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So thanks to the burning legs and lungs we decided to stay in for the afternoon and as was to be expected, in rolled the weather !! The following morning we woke to low cloud and light drizzle. We decided then to climb (always freaking climbing !!!) up the other side of our little valley for a look around. I ended up sitting about the spot I was looking at when I was standing out on that rock outcrop the day before.

From that spot it was all a bit bleak…





And it was good to be rugged up a little…




But at least my boots were still holding up !!!

Several hours of that saw us climb back down and try to make fire and dry out. The wood here was just horrible and it was a constant fight to keep any semblance of a fire going !!! Back at camp I had left the solar kit out to keep the batteries and such with power. I was happy with the choice of gear !!

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Originally posted by GOVT1911
You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
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Old March 18, 2017, 00:39   #7
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So, the next day we (or as I am reminded time and again, I) suggested that instead of all that climbing we just follow our little creek down to where it joined a larger stream, that seemed like a relaxing way to spend the morning.

Well sweet mother of God, how wrong I was..!! Now to be honest neither of us can put a finger on exactly what happened as we worked our way downstream and our creek became larger and the country quickly turned into gorge after gorge. What I can say is that something was up, I could not get my breath back and it felt like my legs were jelly. I basically took two pictures down there, I can’t deny it was beautiful however..



And the creek…



Once we realised we were not going to make it to the junction with the larger stream we stopped (not much choice as I was stuffed) and decided to head up the other side and then follow the ridge back up to the area above our camp, we even set off and started climbing (literally climbing) till about 15mins in and we both pulled up and said WTF are we doing. My (later I learned OUR) judgment was all a bit off and I had done a couple of stupid things that could have bitten me on the arse. We then decided to just turn around and go back out the way we came. I can say a couple of times I just sat on a rock and thought I can’t put a foot forward here. Finally of course I did. After a couple of hours we were back on the flats near the hut but still feeling totally spent. Note the “careful” laying out of my gear near the hut on return…



Once we got a little recovered the mate let me know he too was well out of sorts for most of the walk, neither rof us can honestly put a finger on what the issue was but agree it was just not “tired” as we had walked worse and did so again. A mystery.

There is however no malady that cannot be cured with a good hearty helping of BACON (and in this case, salami and cheese all served up on a flatbread for lunch….



Condiment corner of the hut…



Weather had also improved no end (Ha…just to lull us into a false sense of security)..

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Originally posted by GOVT1911
You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
(Jiminy Christmas, did I just recommend a 'yota?!!??)
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Old March 18, 2017, 00:40   #8
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So we spoke about what next, and decided we would hunt back down the ridge and over toward where the DoC Bivy we had previously visited was, a good plan no question. It was our intention to stay away a couple of nights, if the Bivy remained occupied we would top off our water at the spring and get back up high and fly camp the time (and a chance to use the new Willow tarp) away. So we reorganised the big packs and grabbed what we needed from our food stores and sleeping gear. We only took the singe MSR Pocket Rocket and one small canister of gas with us (the MSR is mine and the mate has a Jetboil that we were using to keep us fed). I can without doubt say I was not at all looking forward to climbing with the larger pack on but c’est la vie… once we got on a roll it was not bad (who am I kidding, it was making my legs scream) and we found ourselves well down the range….







After a few hours we got back down to the bivy and found it was no longer occupied and (here was a stroke of luck), despite both of us wanting to fly camp we unloaded at the bivy and decided to call it home for the next couple of nights.

Once organised there we decided to climb back up onto the ridge and set up to glass the clearings in the late afternoon sun. As a note, we saw lots of deer sign, fresh deer sign, all through this country. As we topped the ridge it was obvious the wind had come up and was cooling off fast. I nestled myself into the grass and watched…





…note those darkening clouds. They just keep running in and the temp kept dropping..!!

A mountainside selfie all rugged up…

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Originally posted by GOVT1911
You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
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Old March 18, 2017, 01:10   #9
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Real nice!
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Old March 18, 2017, 01:46   #10
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awesome pictures!

I flew home from the south island on the 28th - just missed each other, relatively speaking.
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Old March 18, 2017, 08:15   #11
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Nice story and pics, as usual.
Did ya kill anything ?
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Old March 18, 2017, 08:25   #12
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Nice story and pics, as usual.
Did ya kill anything ?
^^^^ Yes this ^^^^

Thanks for sharing.
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Old March 18, 2017, 10:05   #13
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I've been all around the park many times but have never hiked in. What I know is that it's rugged terrain and the pics confirm that. Nice to see, thank you.
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Old March 18, 2017, 14:12   #14
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Great Pictures!! Awesome way to celebrate!!
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Old March 18, 2017, 15:52   #15
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Nice story and pics, as usual.
Did ya kill anything ?
...thanks...and no....never fired a shot. Could have, just didn't see a stag big enough nor did we get to the point we needed the meat. An excuse to go back next year though....
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You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
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Old March 18, 2017, 22:09   #16
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Unbelievably beautiful photos. Your rendition of higher elevation achievements is stellar. The choice of digital photo devices evidences selective....

WTF! IS THAT A BALD SPOT!!!????
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Old March 19, 2017, 00:14   #17
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Thanks for the kind words 'Nog.... however WTF is this bald spot to which you refer ??? I assure you that I still sport a full head of manly man hair as I have always done !! .

Aging eyes perhaps ???
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You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
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Old March 19, 2017, 10:41   #18
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Thats amazing Andy...Thanks for sharing..
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Old March 19, 2017, 13:56   #19
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Looks to be a nice hike and boot testing terrain. It doesn't help at altitude and being over 50. Guess most of that terrain in 5000 ft elevation range but with aging and a load you'll feel it

Nice photography, too bad you didn't punch your tags.

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Old March 20, 2017, 01:57   #20
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It doesn't help at altitude and being over 50.
SD
.....he is the one approaching 50...not I .....
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Originally posted by GOVT1911
You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
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Old March 20, 2017, 09:28   #21
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As usual, great scenery, great pix, great running commentary. I - and I think most here - really appreciate and enjoy the adventures you share with us, Andy. Many thanks !!!
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Old March 22, 2017, 03:43   #22
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Thanks very much for the kind words Jim...!!
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Old March 22, 2017, 03:43   #23
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So I finally have some time on my hands..!!!!

We stayed up there on the ridge till the evening rolled in hoping Bambi may come out to grab some later afternoon sun, unfortunately there was no such, just looming dark clouds, and no Bambi. We walked back down off the ridge in the last light and the start of some light rain….that got a little heavier….then some wind…and some heavier rain…. so we scurried back got dinner our of the way and settled into the bivy for the weather to pass…yay.

Now the bivy is OK, watertight (except when the door is open) and clean…yep, but with no cover at the front getting in and out in the rain is a bit of a pain…but it was only going to be overnight….riiiiight….

This was pretty much my view of the world for the next 36hrs…..



We even cooked a little in there as needed…



And I became the “weatherman” providing regular and ondemand weather updates….generally along the lines of Him “how’s it look mate ?”….me (pushing the window open)…. “errrrrrr yep farging raining still”…

The window (and my well travelled Busse Skeleton Key)…



So in that time I had ½ of the December 16 issues of The Hawkes Bay News (newspaper), a copy of Backwoodsman Magazine and a copy of NZ Hunting….we exchanged these regularly and read each several times… I do think I got a little stir crazy…

Going into the later part of the following day we both needed to venture out and stretch the legs (pee breaks had been it till that point)…

Yep…raining…



Yep…not so happy about it…



An exercise in wet weather fire making…



Come hell or high water we had to walk back the following morning (Thursday) as our chopper was scheduled to pluck us out around 1100hrs Friday.

So in still light rain, cloud and a bloody cold wind we set back off up the ridge to make our way back to the other valley…I have to say I thought it was gorgeous up through there though…. !!



And my load dumped on a stump to facilitate taking the pic above…

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Old March 22, 2017, 03:45   #24
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After several hour walking we were back at the main hut, gear was hung up to dry, dragged out my sleeping bag again (looking forward to a night that didn’t see a rigmarole involved if I needed to step outside) the fire was lit (quite cold and miserable) and then I went and stood in that freezing creek as it made my aching feet and legs feel great !!!

I then tried to snap a couple of pics of Casey’s Red Eyed Hog Seasoning that had improved several meals and my attitude…



…and while doing so the sensor on my camera started having a fit…it is still unserviceable and after some tinkering I found it was only able to take a half decent picture in “auto” mode, I generally work in manual.

It was just gone lunch and the mate was putting himself to bed for a nap and I was still playing with the camera when I heard what I thought was a helicopter…..and then our ride appeared out of the clouds and sat at idle on the LZ down the creek.

I went down and spoke quickly with Chris across the creek (thinking we had somehow screwed up our pickup) and it was basically that he had flown in on spec as he could and we had about 15mins to get packed and get back in the air. If he didn’t get us out then we may be there for several more days as a large weather front was moving in (as OK with this as I would be it would mean missing our flight back to Aus). So them there was a FRANTIC dressing and packing routine undertaken…and we got in the air !!! I actually can’t believe we didn’t (unintentionally) leave anything behind !!

And to close a few pics I snapped on the flight out…













And then we were back….that rapid pack and rush out made being back at the hanger where we started VERY surreal…!!!!
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You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
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Old March 22, 2017, 06:25   #25
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Thanks for sharing your days fantastic *high adventure* and I enjoyed the photos.
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Old March 22, 2017, 09:17   #26
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Looks like a wonderful trip. Except for the rain. You flat landers need to get in shape.
Nice pix, to bad you got that bad yellow sun burn.
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Old April 06, 2017, 01:50   #27
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awesome photos
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Old April 06, 2017, 07:04   #28
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Thanks for posting, what a cool adventure!
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Old April 07, 2017, 18:19   #29
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Thanks all. Just back from a week away chasing deer again. Stopped and saw the mate I was travelling with and he is well on the way to having next year's trip planned for us...LOL
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Old April 07, 2017, 18:41   #30
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Andy,

Incredible pictures. Now I know why they picked it for the shire. Its right out of a story book.
Great pics cant wait to see your next adventure.

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Old April 07, 2017, 19:51   #31
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The area where they put the Shire is north west and the other side of the little mountain that features in a lot of Andy's fantastic pictures.

Made me a little homesick and a little teary eyed, you b'stard
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Old April 07, 2017, 22:59   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thorack View Post
Andy,

Incredible pictures. Now I know why they picked it for the shire. Its right out of a story book.
Great pics cant wait to see your next adventure.

Thorack
.... thanks mate

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Originally Posted by tobinb View Post
Made me a little homesick and a little teary eyed, you b'stard
....I can post up some pics of the livestock there on the farmlands that boarder the park if you are really missing home mate... !!
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Quote:
Originally posted by GOVT1911
You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
(Jiminy Christmas, did I just recommend a 'yota?!!??)
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Old April 24, 2017, 16:19   #33
Andy the Aussie
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A few extra pics that I edited from those taken by my mate...







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Quote:
Originally posted by GOVT1911
You could do some searching and find a nice TLC and do the same thing, still saving a bunch of $$ and end up with a nice, comfortable CAPABLE rig...
(Jiminy Christmas, did I just recommend a 'yota?!!??)
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Old April 27, 2017, 08:32   #34
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awesome trip.
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Old May 06, 2017, 21:34   #35
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Great pics and great write up. Thanks for taking the time to post Andy.
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Old May 07, 2017, 09:29   #36
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Great photos and write up, as per the usual with your outings.

Here is the helicopter video from your first post:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buXEsLBGUD4&t=4s
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