Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A coastal hike on the tip of Coromandel - 3/17/10

The sky is acting like it wants to storm, but its rained so little since I got here that I wonder if it can deliver. Lack of rain has been a serious problem, since our water supply is tied to rainfall. To make things more interesting, the power went out about 2 hours ago. And since our water tank takes electricity to pump, we are without water despite the storm.

The last week has been rather erratic, even more so than the previous few. Our epic trip to Tongariro has been pushed back about 9 days to the 23rd. In its place, we went hiking yesterday and will go fishing on the 19th. Yesterdays hike was at the northern tip of Coromandel, where the highest mountain on the peninsula can be found. The mountain was apparently closed, but the ranger gave us a map of some alternate routes we could take. These paths were for pest control, which means traps and poisons for the mammal pests in the forest. While these are safe to us, the paths are basically service trails and not kept clear.

To make things more interesting, our initial directions were quite vague, and we didn't ever really reach the path we intended. The trails were still really neat, and climbed through thick, yet young, temperate rainforest. The B track, which took about an hour and conveniently went in a loop, was rather challenging. It went along the side of the mountain, and had about a 45 degree or more slope most of the way. We had to hold on to the trees slightly uphill, as our footing slipped quite often on the leaves and loose dirt.

I had strained my back a few days earlier and had tried to get out of the hike all together. Dany was not enjoying the difficult trail, so the two of us left the group once we got back to the start to head to the beach. This worked out well, as the rest of the group never found what they were looking for, while Dany and I took a 6km trek down the well defined coastal path. A bizarre part of the walk was how there were hundreds of dead stick bugs littering the track. Every 3 to 4 feet we'd find another almost the whole way. These are like 'walking sticks' back home, but about 5 inches tall, bright green, skinny, and fragile apparently.
About halfway down the track, we came to the tip of land by the bay with a stunning view across the sea. The picture here doesn't give it justice due to perspective, but that was about two thirds of our field of view. It took two rows of five pictures stitched together to capture it. We were about 450 feet above the sea on a ledge, and could lightly hear the waves below. It was nice watching the wave patterns heading toward the bay in such a large area. And like most coastal scenes in NZ, the water was a bunch of rich shades of blue and clear.
Back home today, we had a fairly light day, with Jon heading to Thames early and just working on projects around the house. I built a rat trap out of spare parts. The body is a 20L paint bucket, with a ramp leading to the top, a circular piece of plywood on a slightly off center rod, and a tiny shelf in the back. The rat runs up the ramp, and as it crosses the wooden disk toward the cheese, the disk tilts down and dumps the rat in the bucket. Some scrap metal is under the front part of the disk to weigh it down, and pegs keep the front side from falling as the rat gets curious.

Unfortunately I cut my hand open in the process, though while kinda deep it was nothing serious. My hand is now bandaged and lightly wrapped in duct tape for extra pressure, and reduced flexibility on the joint. It'll heal up in a few days. Hopefully in time to climb Mt. Doom down in Tongariro next Tuesday!

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