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section of the track to the old mine has a serious slip and the end part of the track, to where the mine used to be, is no longer maintained at all.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!

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