Sunday, November 16, 2008

Stanfield Hut

I joined a PNTMC tramp to Stanfield Hut today, just the three of us, in glorious weather, about 23C, warm but not too hot. They had a lovely new sign there at the beginning of the walk, and we could clearly see the little 'grunt' we faced at the beginning to climb up to Holmes Ridge.... nothing like the grunt to get up to the top of the ranges on the other side though! However, four months after getting home in a fit state, I was appalled to find that after winter laziness, I found it a real grunt up that hill!! (Mind you, it was quite steep and rugged underfoot, and I don't recall anything quite so tough on the Camino..... or maybe there was and I was fitter then!!!) No photos of the grunt.... I was too busy holding onto trees getting my breath back as I climbed!!

After climbing the grunty hill, we reached a 4WD road, then walked along the ridge top for a while, until it was time to descend again back down to the river. We had a short break before we tackled the river section, and there I distinguished myself by grabbing hold of some ongaonga- native stinging nettle- as I passed. Ouch!!! Not nice!!! I plunged my hand into the stream a few times to feel the cool water and try to reduce the stinging feel.

Twenty minutes or so later, we reached the hut and ate lunch in the sunshine. Too nice to sit in the hut. This native clematis was flowering near the long drop.

The return trip was via the river, and we walked along the river in the sunshine, and crossed the river numerous times.....numerous numerous numerous times.... as you do sometimes in Kiwiland. Water level was quite low though. Lots of debris still lying around from the 2004 floods when the water level would have looked completely different through here. Various plants starting to colonise the rocky areas.

At one point we had to negotiate our way under this massive fallen rimu tree.

And just to finish off, this is a shot of some ongaonga I saw as we were ending our tramp. Looks vicious doesn't it, with all those nasty looking spines. Next time someone warns me there is ongaonga nearby, I will try to remember their warning as I pass!!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Camino keeps following me!

One of the remarkable things about the Camino has been the re-discovery of contacts since I came home. While walking, I only shared my e-mail address with two people. But since I have come home, contact has been re-established with a whole bundle of people I walked with. People have tracked me down via other people, via photos on blogs, etc. The nature of the Camino was such that you sometimes walked with people for a few days, but then you never saw them again, as your pace of walking differed. But in those few days, you often came to know those people in a special way, as you walked together in the landscape, and/or shared evenings in the albergues/gites.

The latest 're-discovery' was yesterday. There was a French couple I met after three weeks of walking in France, "les DDs", who I saw often for the next month, but who 'disappeared' after Viana in Spain (near Logrono.) Three of us, who had often walked with them, wondered where they were, whether they had suffered an accident, or whether some event at home had meant they had to leave the Camino. It was their plan to walk from home to Santiago, then walk home again.

As it turns out, though we never saw them again after Viana, we only just missed them in Santiago, where they arrived on July 7th. That was the day we took the bus to Finisterre, then I left early the next morning to take the train to France. They had a fortnight's rest in Santiago, then began the return walk home, arriving back where they lived in France on October 31st, seven months after leaving home. I am proud of the 1500km I walked. But it pales into insignificance against their 3600km!!!

Trouble is, they only speak French, so I need to e-mail them in French, and I am already forgetting my French fast! Just as well there is such a thing as Babelfish these days!!!