I was off at 7.30 as I had a 22 km day, with a stop at Johnsonville to have a cuppa with a friend.
Lois had given me instructions on a bit of a short cut which I got thoroughly wrong and it took me an extra 1.5 hours to get to my friends place, only about 5 km away. I was a bit grumpy with myself by the time I got there and have vowed not to take shortcuts again. What is obvious to a local is not to me and the closer we are to town the more tracks and trails there are in the parks meaning more places I can take a wrong turn.
Anyway a couple of chocolate biscuits, a coffee and a good natter saw me on my way again. This time in Rhona’s car to the local mall to pick up some ankle supports for me from a $2 shop. In my rush to leave I had forgotten to get new ones.
There was about 8 km of road walking to do so I easily got talked into a ride to the next trail head that would take me throughout forest up to Colonial Knob. I had walked this long section of road last time with Anouk and her parents and remembered hiding in a bus shelter to eat our lunch out of the wind. No need whatsoever to repeat that if there is an alternative.
This was when I began to get texts from friends and family saying that it was quite windy where they were. Lois and I had looked at the weather forecast last night and, yes, there was going to be some wind up there but it is always windy on the exposed farmland around Wellington. It is not called Windy Wellington for nothing. I assured my daughters that I would be okay as I was on rolling farmland hills and not a dangerous mountain.
I took a photo of the entrance so I had a time stamp (11.15am) and I was off up hill along a recently maintained track. I put on an audio book about a shipwreck and marched on. After about 45 minutes I came to 3 way junction with no signage so decided to keep straight. This took me out to a forestry road which did not match my app. So I turned around and went back to the crossroads. At this stage I had quite lost my bearings in the sunless day and thick bush meaning I did not know which way was North.
Come on Karen, figure it out!!! Read the trail notes…”go right” it said, so off I went engrossed in my shipwreck story. An hour and 45 minutes after I left the entrance sign I come to another sign that looked very familiar. I opened up my photos to see that I was back where I started. Grrr. Turn right if you are going SOBO does not mean turn right if going NOBO.
Damn hopeless person!! So my options were to admit defeat and walk back to town or continue back where I had just been. Option 2 was really the only way I could save face so off I went again up the lovely cleared track.
This time I made the correct turn and stopped for my first trail lunch in the shelter of the trees just before hitting the tops. I think the reason I tramp is for plastic cheese and salami on crackers. It is real a shame that red wine is too heavy to carry.
I could hear the wind roaring through the tree tops so knew I was in for some fun up there.
I came out from the trees to find it was really windy but I wasn’t on a mountain ledge so decided it was safe enough to carry on. If I was blown over it would be into gorse bushes, cow pats and down rolling hills.
So I pushed on in the clouds and wind enjoying the adventure much more than I would enjoy a day in the office. But as I got higher and into the more exposed areas I was getting knocked around a fair bit. I would rest in a sheltered area then make a run across the next exposed area hoping I would make it in one piece.
I was blown over a few times but managed to reach the highest point of the day where there was a cellphone tower and a shed to shelter behind get my heart rate back to normal.
I decided to keep going and hoped I would get down to the bush line without getting blown away for good. But I didn’t get far before I was knocked over and swepy across the path like a bag of rubbish only able to stop myself when I was up against a large prickly gorse back.
I lay there for some time trying to decide which way to go. Forward or back to the safety behind the cellphone tower. Go back to what I knew as I didn’t really know what was up ahead. I tried to crawl on all fours got blown over so ended up inching my way along the rocky path on my side, getting battered about and pushed closer to the edge with every move. Eventually I was protected from the wind by the towers.
I had decided I could easily put my tent up and spend the night there and wait for the weather to clear in the morning. So I sent messages to a few people to let them know my plans. Phillips was expecting me that afternoon so I didn’t want her to worry. Lois picked up my message and rang me to say that there was a track down the other side away from the wind, that would get me down and out on the road to Porirua as planned.
So I gad some food and fluids and took off into the clouds and wind again. Soon I was bit lower on the sheltered side away from 5he brunt of the storm and feeling much safer. I did get knocked over a couple more times, once my cellphone went tumbling away but soon I could see the city below so I felt relieved.
I came out by the local tip and had about a 4km walk to the railway station where I would catch a train on to Plimmerton first the night.
So I put my thumb out and my got picked up by a landscape gardener with a car full of cocoa kernels which smelt slightly better than I did.
I had an enjoyable evening with Pip and Jane who are planning to walk the South Island part of Te Araroa this summer.