Hunters Hut, Richmond Ranges,New Zealand

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Hunters Hut, Richmond Ranges,New Zealand

Hunters Hut, Richmond Ranges,New Zealand
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Hiking

Hiking

Mountain

Mountain

Medical emergency

Medical emergency

Hiking

Hunters Hut, Richmond Ranges,New Zealand

-41.450775°S, 173.3789389°E

Posted on March 24, 2020 by Karen Griffiths

What happened?

 I was on Day 94 of my Te Araroa, New Zealand’s Long walk. I had already completed 1,906 km of the 3,000 km with no issues at all. I was in the Richmond Ranges which is an alpine area renowned to be one of the most challenging parts of the trail. 

The day started well, however half an hour later my heart began racing so fast that I couldn’t count the beats; my legs and arms were feeling wobbly and I was having trouble breathing.

I had a similar episode while tramping in Patagonia about 10 years ago so I was not panicking. I knew that laughing, coughing or getting a fright could reset my heart rate and I would be fine.

Along came fellow Te Araroa hikers, firstly Kiwi husband and wife, Robyn and Martin followed then Anouk from The Netherlands. We tried these techniques but nothing worked. So they helped me along the track to a safer area and I rested. Anouk went on ahead taking some of my gear as I didn’t want to hold her up and Robyn and Martin were going to stay with me. They were so good and patient as I needed to stop every 10 steps and lay down about every 40 step. I just couldn’t stop my heart from racing and had no energy to walk, especially uphill. The downhill bits were easier but they were quite risky so the added stress didn’t help.

I felt so ashamed and appalled at my body for doing this to me. I would much rather be hurt than have my body not do what it shouldn’t. I have be feeling so good, strong fit and healthy and now this! I was afraid it would stop me finishing the trail.

Anyway we battled on finally reaching the Porters Creek Hut about 4.30 pm. It should have taken me about 3.5 to 4 hours and was to be my lunch stop. It had taken 9 hours.

I ate a little and lay down for an hour mostly thinking about what to do. A trip to the long drop, only 20 meters away had my heart racing again.

So after a discussion with all those present the decision was made for me to activate my Personal Locator Beacon. We were 2 days walk from a trail head and we could not risk this happening again the next day.  I was gutted and crying. This was not what I wanted at all.

The rescue helicopter arrived in about 20 minutes and they said we had done the right thing. I needed to get to hospital and be checked out. So off we went for a 15 minute trip over the mountains that had taken me about 10 days to walk. I contacted my children who would have had a call from the Rescue Coordination Centre when the beacon was activated. I let them know I was not injured and what had occurred.

My heart settled down as they put the machines on me and took a raft of tests. They all came back indicating that my heart had ben under considerable strain but I was fit and healthy and had just had an “electrical” glitch.

The doctor said to have a couple of days rest then try again. He also gave me a sheet with some more techniques to help shock my heart back into a correct rhythm.  I carried on with Te Araroa finishing it in 149 days but not without another rescue as a result of getting lost. But that is another story!

Words of wisdom

Always have a beacon

Thank you note

Thanks to the ARC team for their easy to use product. This is an absolute necesity when walking the lenght of New Zealand mostly across rugged country 

Rescue location

Hunters Hut, Richmond Ranges,New Zealand

Rescue team

Other

ResQLink™

Go to product details

It may be small, but it's tough. The ResQLink™ PLB Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is a GPS-enabled rescue beacon that's suited for outdoor adventures of all sizes (think: everything from hiking and cycling to hunting and fishing). Should you run into an unexpected situation, the ResQLink PLB will relay your location to a network of search and rescue satellites. PLBs have helped save thousands of people's lives. This Product Has Been Discontinued.    WARNING: PROP 65    

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