Sunday, November 25, 2007

Kahuterawa Rd

Today as part of my 'training' I headed up Kahuterawa Rd for a walk, having parked my car nearby at a friend's place. It was a gorgeous sunny day. And I would have to go so far as saying it is basically a 'sin' I have never ever walked here before. The road was quiet, undulating gently, the birds were singing... and I have never ever explored this road so close to town!

When I was just setting off, there was cloud over the Ranges, and the cloud pattern on the ranges is always of interest.

I walked several kilometres up the road, and came to the intersection with Greens Rd. I was glad to discover where this is, as the Turitea Walkway/Rd joins up with this, and it is part of my future training plans! Green Rd appeared to skirt along close to the hills, though from the map it appears there may be some more hilly bits in it. My map reading skills being as poor as they are, I guess I will find that out soon enough when I actually walk the route.
Quite large numbers of fit, trim looking cyclists passed me coming down Kahuterawa Rd... and I suspect they had been along the more rural Greens Rd first.

The grass was lush. Plenty of rain earlier in the spring, and warm temperatures lately, have led to some spectacular growth. (I know this already of course from my overgrown garden that was yet again being ignored as I walked!)

I got a bit carried away taking photos of rural letterboxes today. As you can tell!

Gorgeous day. Gorgeous walk. Roll on summer. I look forward to returning here soon!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A beautiful day

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day here in the Manawatu - the kind that makes you think summer is actually about to arrive!
So, as I have done a few times in recent months, I headed out to the Manawatu Gorge for some serious Camino training. Today I planned to walk to the third lookout and back, about 5-6 hours worth. You can see from this first photo that the powers-that-be do take this walk seriously as a recreational opportunity for local people: they have made the start of the track go underneath the road for safety. (Mind you, they never 'bridged' the road itself especially - the hills along this side of the Gorge are very unstable geologically - and the only reason this road can go through at all is that it is largely made of 'bridges'.)

The first third of the track has been 'gentrified' to make it more suitable for more walkers. But then you get to the 'tree root' stuff - a standard part of much NZ bush walking - and a part I love.

This is the recently constructed "Sentinel lookout." Like any viewing platform made by DOC since the Cave Creek tragedy, it is very sturdy. For the first time I actually encountered no wind here and the sun was beating down. It would have been nice just to stay put!

And you do get wonderful views from this lookout. This is looking back down the Gorge towards Ashhurst.
The last lookout, Windy lookout, was not windy today either, and I nearly went to sleep there in the sunshine. Shame the yellow flowers are foreign invaders as they looked great in some photos!
Had to make myself get up. Actually the whole walk I had been feeling not so good. (Nothing to do with the 'night before' I assure you all!) Only a few weeks ago I had climbed up here and felt fine. Today from the outset, the hill climbing seemed steeper, longer and harder. Good practice for climbing out of Le Puy in April I told myself. (Then I freaked a little when I realised in only about two months time I would need to be training up these hills with my big pack on instead of my day pack.) To cut a long story short here, I felt increasingly wobbly and not-so-good on the way back, until I *lost* my lunch. At which point I felt a little better. Ah well, I guess I might have days like this in France too, when I wonder why-the-heck-I-ever-thought this might be a Good Idea!

Anyhow, it was clear when I looked at my photos of the trip that I had not been 100%. A lot of them were *rubbish* and were quickly deleted. This one of the stream though I retained.... I felt it was almost Monet-impressionism like!

Last river view, back near the carpark, was of this jetski. I usually harbour thoughts of vengeance towards jetskiers, with their 'noise pollution' of quiet spots. But to be fair, the carpark is adjacent to a main road so is hardly in a 'quiet spot' anyhow! But I did still wonder if this guy knew he was approaching the shallows I could see from above. It seemed that he did, and my vengeful thoughts came to naught!

Anyhow, back home, I had an urge to drink fizzy fruit juice which I did. And the lawns remained unmowed while I had a siesta. And now I feel much better. So I guess it will be work as usual tomorrow after all!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sculpture in the Square

Today I had lunch in the Square in Palmerston North. I am not a fan of several major aspects of our horrendously expensive ' Square upgrade', and could indeed post some really ugly photos of the huge concrete area we now have. But I do have a couple of favourite spots, and the sunshine was upon them today. Today I will share just a few photos of sculptures.

In the background behind this sculpture, the 'power poles' are actually strong lighting that comes on at night, and the industrial nature of them is supposed to recall the railway lines that used to pass through this area.

The War Memorial Cenotaph is in the distant right background behind this shot. The large tree nearby is one of the relatively few left in the library sector. It used to be easy to find a shady spot to relax under in the Square, but not so now.

I find this sculpture to be particularly beautiful.

(When my summer hols arrive I might just take some more Square photos for my derelict and neglected photo blog!)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Taking the soft option

Today I joined a few old buddies from the PNTMC for a short tramp on the Coppermine track in the Ruahines, inland from Woodville. It was especially good to see Sally, who over recent years I have just met occasionally, usually in Melody's New World.
I had been on this track when I first moved to Palmie, and never since. I even have a photo of a much younger me, taken in the river. I was keen to have another look at the track.
First surprise was that the track is on the decline. I think there was a time when this track was quite heavily promoted for families, and there are some really interesting signs along the way about the history of the coppermining endeavour. However, it would seem that recent floods and erosion have taken their toll.

Although there was easy walking along much of the track, there were quite a few places where the track had fallen away, and there was very narrow footing above slips. The last section of the track to the old mine has a serious slip and the end part of the track, to where the mine used to be, is no longer maintained at all.

It was only a brief detour downhill to the Magazine where they stored explosives when the mine existed. Now it is empty save for a large puddle, and according to the sign, some cave wetas. I decided not to venture in to find them.

It was the right season for some hooded native orchids to be flowering. I think I had wandered past many, until one member of the party pointed them out to the rest of us. Then we saw profusions of them in places!

It was a pleasant day, with hardly even a breeze, and sunshine. This view looks back towards the Ruahine range on our way out.

The walk out was very easy, downhill, and there were several little streams to notice. I am sure they were there on the way up too, but I was too busy concentrating on walking then!

I have to admit now that I took the 'soft option' on this trip. On the route back, our party divided and some took the loop track that was going to take them another two hours. I used this week's anaemia blood test result as an excuse to be in the group that decided to take it easy! We headed back to Ballance. Here we divided again, and again I took the soft option. One dedicated soul decided to run back along the Gorge track, and we would pick him up later at the Ashhurst end. Another dedicated soul decided to walk in/out along the Gorge track for a period. While the other three of us decided that coffee/hot chocolate at the Ballance cafe sounded absolutely perfect. These rustic tractor remains rested in the cafe carpark.

As we got ready to depart the cafe carpark, after our onerous hour spent relaxing, this motorbike passed noisily by on the nearby road, then there was a sudden backfiring noise, and no more motorbike noise. Fortunately, nobody's first aid skills were needed, but a part had come adrift off the chain it appeared, and this motorbike was going nowhere fast....

Thanks guys for a very relaxing stretch of the legs, and an even more relaxing sit-down in a cafe!
UPDATE: Have heard that the loop track involved at least one hour's sweaty uphill slog. Am glad I took the soft option to leave (slightly anaemic) self some energy for Sunday!
Also, loaned someone the extra pair of Bridgedale socks I had taken along. She agrees. They are the.most.comfortable.socks.ever!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

into training

Time to stop mucking around and get into some proper Camino training. Bit short on hills right near where I live (alluvial flood plain), so need to get creative with the hills right on the edge of town.

My reward for getting up early-ish this morning was these lovely cloud reflections seen from the bridge across the Manawatu River.

I chose part of a circular route that I have cycled before, so I knew there were some hills along it as- lazy-cyclist that I am- I have walked up a few of them before! I have crossed a bridge over this stream before... but usually I am going fast as the bridge is at the bottom of a hill before a steepish climb so I am aiming at speed. But at walking pace, the sounds of the stream came to my ears, part of the peaceful morning.

I was headed for a friend's place on Old West Rd. Right near by was this newborn lamb and her protective mother.

And at friend's place, the morning sun looked beautiful on these rhodo blooms.

This part of the road headed back towards Massey. I won't take this part of the circuit on foot again as it was too busy with traffic.
I tried to take some photos to show a few steep hills. It is hard to show how steep some places are with the camera! The heartbeats might know, but it is hard to make the camera reveal. The steepest section was the hill heading for Aokautere from the bridge. And I am sure to be seen going up and down that more than a few times with a fully laden pack before April!