New Year's Day was absolutely glorious weather; blue, sunny, and full of the hope of the year ahead - as it should be!
Rather than spend all day indoors or pottering in the greenhouse (why is it that the weeds are growing faster than the plants and are far less tasty to the slugs?), I decided after lunch to go out for another walk, looking for a way in to the reserves. This time I was better armed for my wander, as as well as having the map, I had also Google Mapped it, using the satellite view, and had a better idea of where the entrance actually was.
So I headed out, after war painting myself with factor 30 (there's a reason that I don't tan - I paint myself whiter than a Goth...), sorting out a bottle of water, and generally taking all the other precautions that I'd need for a couple of hours out of doors. The walk down to the park area is very quick and easy - under the train tracks, and about ten minutes in a generally straight line through suburbia. Then over the river, and I followed a public footpath around a playing field. There were a few people around, but not that many - I think that most were sleeping off their hangovers from the night before.
Tucked away next to the sports field changing rooms, I found the entrance to the park; it was gated off (with a big sign saying that no mountain bikes or vehicles were allowed), but there was a pedestrian entrance through (possibly. The sign did also say No Trespassing, but I am choosing to believe that that was for the vehicles...).
The path was cut into the bush, and went quite steeply uphill from the word 'go'. In just a few minutes, I was climbing up above the city. The bush was high on either side, but there were a few gaps to let me take photos.
As I got higher, I could start to see the whole of Lower Hutt spread out below me, and clear views across to the hills on the other sides of the valley.
There were some glorious little flowers growing in the middle of the path
but not much else. It was about this point that it started to dawn upon me that I was walking up the middle of the fire break, and that quite possibly, I wasn't supposed to be here... However, it being New Year's Day and all, I also thought that the chances of someone coming and telling me off were also very low, and I wanted to see where the track would go!
The atmosphere was gorgeous. Not only was the sun warm, but, aside from the birds and constant cicadas, I couldn't hear anything. Even though I wasn't that high up, really, there were no sounds from the city below, and when I turned my back on it, I could really imagine that I was in the middle of nowhere.
As I got higher, I could see all the way along the valley past Upper Hutt
and still had higher to climb
A little bit higher, and I decided to listen to my wobbling legs and make a turn round for home
(yes, the path was as steep as it looks!)
I didn't want to get to a point where I suddenly realised I was too tired to get down the hill safely.
However, when I got to the bottom, I realised that I wasn't that tired, after all, and decided to have a bit more of an explore. I'm very pleased that I did, because just round the corner, the other side of the playing field, I found the entrance to a reserve. This one was definitely public access, with a nice stile over the fence, and a map at the front showing where the parkland was and how it fitted in to the private land about it.
It was absolutely glorious in there. The birds were incredibly noisy, and the path (a proper forest path, rather than a bare gouge in the earth...) wandered around the trees, occasionally using the roots as steps when the path headed steeply uphill. It was very peaceful; again, even though I was only a few minutes walk away from suburbia, I couldn't hear any signs of civilisation.
Unfortunately, before I got too far in, my legs decided that, as the going was starting to get steeper, they were going to rebel, and so I headed back home. However, the camera and I are going t take another trip out there as soon as the weather gets a bit better (since the 1st, it has been rain and wind fairly constantly...).