Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Rail Trail Walk. Day Four
The Longest Day.
Knowing that we had 7 hours walking, plus stoppages, coming up, we had set the alarm for 6 am with the intention of being on the road by 7. As it happened we were up and bustling by 5.20 but still had to wait until almost 7 for enough daylight.
At 6.50 we left our cabin and, as instructed ("perfectly safe, nothing will happen round here") left our baggage in what seemed a very vulnerable position just outside the front door of the tavern. We again contgratulated ourselves on not having brought our Kindles or anything else valuable which we could not carry in our backpacks or the two bumbags Gay was sporting. The Trail was a few yards away from the tavern so off we jolly well went. Stepping us gaily, as our friend Jean would say.
Again it was bitterly cold, so we both hid inside our ponchos. Gay was wearing a spare pair of socks on her hands in the absence of gloves.
Gay had a bit of a sore heel on her right hoof. About halfway through today's walk this was added to by an equivalent sore left heel. She has only confessed to me since we finished just how knackered she was each day before we finished our marching. Fortunately she was to find today no worse in that respect than Days 1, 2 and 3. She had made a wise decision beforehand to regard the 42 kms as an elephant task. We also had the benefit of some natural breaks presenting themselves at Lauder and Omakau.
When we saw this rock, which seems to mirror the image on the Shroud of Turin, my mind started speculating about conspiracy theories which would enable me to write a book which would add to the thousands about that piece of cloth.
22kms, just over halfway, took us to Lauder. The new cafe here is excellent. Good tucker and very friendly people. They were doing a roaring trade. Somebody should drag the Waipiata people here so they will understand why their place is empty. People talk.
Off we set again, after a short break, the further 8 kms to Omakau. I can't remember exactly where which gorges, tunnels, viaducts, rock formations and snow-covered mountains figured in today's walk but they were all there somewhere. As were lots of teams of cyclists, deer (wapiti or North American Elk) and at least 2 hares, not to mention the infestatious rabbits. Wonderful scenery. The day was dry but cold throughout.
We had another break in Omakau. The Muddy Creek Cafe there makes what Gay reckons are the best vegetarian pies she has come across but she passed these up for lunch in favour of the pumpkin lasagne which we had noticed on a previous visit. We shared this but it did not live up to its anticipation. The woman who served us said the walk to Chatto Creek usually took her an hour. As the distance is 12 kms, we wondered what she had been smoking.
The man who runs the secondhand shop in Omakau seemed to be taking an exceptionally long lunch, although some of his wares were still out on the pavement.
We passed Tiger Hill with no sign of tigers, although there were some alpaca in the same area. Then I noticed what seemed to be an animal squirming on the track. As we neared the critter it turned out to be 3 animals - a hedgehog adult with two babies, which were so close to each other that they had seemed to be one. They did not seem to mind us getting up very close and personal, taking pictures. They did not move off the track. No wonder they get run over.
Very shortly after this Gay called my attention to a mustelid which was snoozing by the side of the track, no doubt replete with other creatures. As I turned to look, it made off into the grass. Didn't give us time to get a picture. Isn't it amazing how they can pass through grass or other growth without anything moving to indicate their passage?
We made our way to the cafe at Chatto Creek, fulfilling our target of 42 kms for the day. Here we were to ring our friend Denise, whose motel, Alexandra Garden Court Motel, is our base when we were in the area. But there is no cellphone signal available at Chatto Creek. The proprietor kindly gave Denise a ring for us as we supped a gigantic cup of tea apiece.
The wonderful Denise picked us up, whisked us to the motel, where she had not only made dinner for us but had also stocked up on our supplies at the supermarket.
One little snag was that our bags had not appeared. Our misgivings about leaving them in the street resurfaced. But telephone enquiries revealed that they had accidentally been delivered to another motel, where the proprietors had not seemed to notice that our names did not match their guest list. They were soon collected and restored to us.
Again, we had an early night. The forecast was for a "weather bomb" to hurtle across from Australia and deliver devastation to New Zealand. High winds, torrential rain, but mainly in North Island. We would get at least some of the high winds here tomorrow morning.
42 kms walked. A total of 127 kms so far, I think.