Mount Climie

With a few days left before I start work I’ve been taking some time to get outside. Today I went out past Upper Hutt to walk up the Mount Climie track. Accessed from the Tunnel Gully area of Pakuratahi Forest the gravel road provides service access to communication equipment at the summit. The track is steep, I wasn’t really prepared for the relentless upward grind and it didn’t take long before I was sweating profusely. It’s a 600m ascent and just over 11kms return. About half way up the surrounding forest changed to predominately beech and became much more interesting to look at with lots of native birds. It was nice to take my mind off the constant trudging to watch families of rifleman flitting through the trees.

Hitting the cloud level

Hitting the cloud level

Further interest was then provided by the low cloud level adding a misty fog to the forest. The higher I ascended the more wind there was and the swirling mist was great to watch during my frequent rest stops. After an hour and a half I came across the first of the communication towers. There are towers for TV transmission, cellular communication and apparently something for the NZ Police as well. There are two trigs, the first at 830m and the second at 860m. From the first trig the landscape changes again with the track following an exposed ridgeline that occasionally is snow-covered (some photos of that can be seen here). Not in the middle of summer but for my visit the cloud level was such that there were no views, just wind and white all around. It was eerie to be alone on the summit track, at times it was like something out of a horror movie (The Mist anyone?) but thankfully there were no scary or unexplained events. I ate lunch in a sheltered area by the trig and then spent the return trip taking my time, enjoying the general lack of climbing and taking a lot of photos.

The first trig

The first trig

Made it to the top!

Made it to the top!

The track disappears

The track disappears

Wind sculpts the summit vegetation

Wind sculpts the summit vegetation

A rata stump, the summit rata apparently all killed by possums

A rata stump, the summit rata apparently all killed by possums

On the set of a horror movie?

On the set of a horror movie?

More foggy infrastructure

More foggy infrastructure

Goblin forest

Goblin forest

A mountain cabbage tree

A mountain cabbage tree

All up it was around 4 hours return including my lunch and photo stops. I think it’ll be a few years before I take Alayna up there, she’ll need some practice on shorter climbs first. There is a definite sense of achievement in reaching the summit and I think I’d be more interested in regular visits if it wasn’t a gravel road but rather a track that had a better sense of travelling through the forest. That said I will have to return to see the summit under snow and also on a clear day to see some of the promised views.

Mist and trees

Mist and trees

A weekend journey

The weekend just gone had us travelling to New Plymouth to see Fleetwood Mac in concert. Rather than drive all the way we broke up the journey by staying a night at Jerusalem, situated north of Wanganui on the Whanganui River. The road from Wanganui follows the river and is at times narrow and winds underneath tall cliffs and around twisting corners. The views are great, rolling hills covered in old forest and river, wide and slow, looking peaceful in the valley.

IMG 7001Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Looking upriver from an early viewpoint

Jerusalem, otherwise known as Hiruharama, is the founding site for the Sisters of Compassion and my Aunty Sue is one of the Sisters in residence who look after the management of the grounds. We parked and walked past the old convent to the church where we found Sister Margaret Mary cleaning up. Margaret Mary took us up to the Sisters’ house where we found Aunty Sue and were sat down for a chat over drinks. We had beds in the old convent and Sue took us down to show us around.

I wandered around with my camera and took shots of things, inside and out. Here are a few shots, there are more on Flickr (just click on any of the photos):

IMG 7005Photo by Brendon & Keryn

One of the upstairs dorms in the old convent

IMG 7057Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Interrupted munching

IMG 7074Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Inside the Church

IMG 7108Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Looking out over the valley from upstairs in the old convent

Steve, Debbie and Tess turned up later in the afternoon and we all had dinner together in the convent kitchen. In the evening we helped out with some small things, setting up a scanner and some other computer related queries.

IMG 7129Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The Church in the morning

We didn’t leave in a hurry the next day and Keryn assisted with making some lemon-honey while I gave some scanner tutorials. The nativity scene was put together and I took a few photos for Sue and while the sun was out I took some more shots outside as well. We set off as the sky clouded over, our drive back to Wanganui accompanied by infrequent rain.

Keryn’s parents were coming down to see Fleetwood Mac, and Steve and Debbie were also coming for the concert (Tess staying with Sue for the night). We arrived at the accommodation in New Plymouth mid afternoon, and by 5pm had been joined by Phil & Elaine and Steve & Debbie. Wendy, one of the owners of Lothlorien Cottage where we stayed, had given us some walking directions to the Brooklands Bowl where the concert would be held. A slight map reading error meant we arrived via a non direct route, but still in plenty of time. We found a spot on the grass and had a something to eat while waiting for the music to start.

Fleetwood Mac were excellent, they seemed very happy (I guess I would be too at the last concert of a series of 83) and energetic, especially Lindsey Buckingham who sang and played guitar with vigour. The band played for a couple of hours and closed with some of their more popular numbers, the crowd enthusiastically joining in.

IMG 0041Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Fleetwood Mac at the Brooklands Bowl, New Plymouth

Keryn’s parents had to head back to Auckland the next morning. The original plan was to follow us down to Lower Hutt but their newly purchased car developed a fault which meant it stayed in Auckland and their insurance paid for a hire car. So they headed back to Auckland to pick up the (hopefully) repaired car. Steve and Debbie were heading back to Wanganui where they would meet Sue and Tess. I had convinced Keryn we should go for a walk so we drove towards Mt Taranaki.

Our destination was Dawson Falls. We drove through the Goblin Forest, thick and verdant vegetation with warped trees laden with moss rising above. We parked and piled on the clothes, it being cool and misty. We had a discussion about which walk to do and eventually headed towards Wilkes Pools.

IMG 0049Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Walking through the bush

The track headed up but was very well formed and not too steep. We did have to cross a rocky stream bed but this was done with little difficulty. Arriving at the pools Keryn took a seat while I pottered about taking photos.

IMG 7151Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The base of Wilkes Pools

IMG 7156Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Keryn patiently waiting

I climbed further up the rocks to the pool above the one photographed above and then clambered down to the pool level to take a photo. That was the idea anyway, one step in the wrong place had me falling forward into the water and initially worrying mostly about not falling down the waterfall. My second worry, about a second later, was pulling my camera and tripod out of the water where it had landed while I righted myself. Carefully I climbed back up to flatter ground and took stock of my gear. A dripping camera and lens is not a happy sight.

After towelling off the camera and lens it still wasn’t looking good, and a tentative attempt at taking a shot didn’t go very well. Funnily enough I wasn’t in the mood for any more shots so I packed everything away and we headed back to the car. At the carpark the clouds lifted enough for us to get a shot of Mt Taranaki’s peak and then we were heading homeward.

IMG 0051Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Mt Taranaki

Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The road through the goblin forest

Many hours later I unpacked all my gear and gave it another once over. The Camera wasn’t working very well, the LCD obviously affected by the water and the dreaded Error 99 appearing on the top display. While taking out everything else from the bag I noticed the big lens was rattling…not a good sign.

Lesson 1 - The other reason for filtersPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Why to use a filter

Turns out that my camera bag must also have hit the rocks when I slipped but thankfully the filter on the front of the lens took the brunt of the impact, the lens itself is fine. I’ve since spoken to the Canon service centre and they have suggested leaving the camera to dry out in a warm place for a few days to see if it recovers. If not, it’ll be off to Canon for an insurance quote. Looks like I’ll be using my old camera when we go down south.