Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rail Trail Walk. Day Three

Today would have been my father's 111th birthday. The spookiness was yesterday. We passed the 111 kms post (Middlemarch is at 64 kms as the railway line started in Dunedin and still runs, with a tourist train, as far as Middlemarch). And when I took my partly-read book out to read yesterday afternoon, I found that I was up to page 111.

When we stepped outside to start walking, we found it was bitterly cold. Gay had wisely clapped on some thermal underwear but I had not. I took out my rain poncho and covered myself with it to give myself another layer. I don't think I removed it all day because it did not warm up very much. We both felt the lack of gloves - of course we hadn't brought any because is supposed to be summer here - OK, officially at the start of autumn, but the equivalent of September in the Northern hemisphere.

We hadn't gone very far before we saw that the rain which we had heard last night had fallen as snow at a slightly higher altitude. We were surrounded by very white mountains which had not been there the day before.

The day's walk was to be 25 kms. At about halfway we came to the hotel at Wedderburn. This was not yet open but the woman who was tidying up happily made us a drink.

We set off again, still surrounded by snow but fortunately with other things visible to remind us that it is not yet really winter.

We passed the highest point of the Rail Trail at 618 metres. Some English cyclists here told us about a splendid new cafe at Oturehuea, our destination for the day.

We then crossed - twice - the latitude of 45 degrees South, halfway between the Equator and the South Pole. There are markers at trailside to draw your attention to this, and to provide photo opportunities.

We have not yet seen any other walkers on the Trail (and will not in its full length, except for casual walkers out for local strolls) but just before we arrive at Oturehua we find a woman who has unsaddled her horse while she waits for it to have its lunch. Her dog was looking on.

Also not far before the end of today's leg we passed 21 kms, which tomorrow will be only halfway.

It's a good job we were told about the new cafe, the Ida Valley Kitchen, because it is not obvious from the Trail. A few years ago, DOC (Department of Conservations), removed all signs about food and accommodation and will not allow new ones. This is because they prefer people to starve rather than have the view desecrated.

We had a nice lunch at the Kitchen then strolled along to our accommodation at the Oturehua Tavern. Here we were made very welcome by Graham and Liz. The accommodation was pretty basic but they invited us to come and sit with them round the fire, where we spent all afternoon. An early dinner, which was very satisfactory, then an early night because of an early start and long walk tomorrow.

Today's walk was 25 kms. 85 kms so far.

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