An Object In Motion

I have not gone for a walk for four days.

I didn’t set out to have such a break, but things happen.  The kids all got sick, with a short-lived, but dramatic, virus.  I stayed home the first day as it was all hands on deck.

The second day, both myself and my husband were starting to feel the effects of said illness.

The third day, I’d started feeling a bit better, but just in prepping to go for a walk, it was made clear by my body that I’d be wiser to stay home.

The fourth day…. I can’t say much about the fourth day, other than perhaps, that Newton’s laws of motion took force.  That is, a body in motion tends to stay in motion…. and a body resting (for ‘at rest’ has all the wrong connotations!) tends to stay resting.  Sure, I had kids home, I was out and about most of the day, including a coffee group and a special one-on-one trip to the hairdressers and mall (and Santa!) with my five year old…. sure, it was hot… but they’re really excuses, as I’m quite convinced that I could have walked – at least a small walk – had I decided to make the effort.

Today, I didn’t feel like making the effort either.  It’s still school holidays – but it will be until the beginning of February.  It’s still Christmas craziness – but it will be for another week.  It’s still hot – but it will likely be so for some number of months still (and then it will be too cold!). It’s still hectic getting out when the kids are around.  But I can still find ways to do it if I’m determined.

I wasn’t determined, today, but I was disciplined.  I did not feel like walking.  I felt like moping around with a book and computer games.  Which, other than two hours of Christmas craziness in the morning, I had been doing all day.  But I decided to go to a nearby track just to try it, with no intention of getting to the end, just pushing myself to GET OUT THERE and start.  One thing I’ve learned by now, it’s always harder to get out the door than it is to keep going once you’re going (an object in motion…).

Old Coach Track.  I picked this track because it was nearby, I hadn’t done it yet, and the name sounded deceptively benign.

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I hadn’t brought my hiking poles – mainly because I’m not exactly sure where they are.  They’re around.  But I didn’t want to let searching for them distract or deter me from getting out the door, as above.

I also hadn’t realised I would need them – but in fact, they would have been super handy.  Old Coach Road – at least the Scenic Drive end – is a root and rock-filled, dirt and mud path, that ascends at a moderate to high grade for awhile, then descends at a similar grade, and so on.  ‘Undulating’ sounds a bit too calm for these hills – but they’re not too extreme, either. However, I was quite cautious about my footing, in particular on the downhills, and that’s where poles become quite useful.

Following the trail, I climbed a hill.  I went down a hill.  I climbed a hill.  I started to go down that one, and it got gradually steeper, until I decided – actually, maybe not.  It’s not that the path was bad, or too extreme, or too muddy (although it rained yesterday, it was fully dry by this afternoon).  It was that I didn’t want to push it too hard when I wasn’t as well equipped as I would have liked, and as always, was running out of daylight – and in this case, motivation.  I’d gone roughly a km by then, so I turned around, and walked back.  Where Old Coach Road Track meets up with Fairy Falls track, I decided to do more.  Fairy Falls track, at the beginning, is a very well maintained, even track with no worries over footing, a very gentle grade, and a pleasant walk through bush.  As I’d only been out for about 4o minutes by then (and I find, for mental health reasons in particular, I do better with 60+ minutes) and hadn’t quite walked as far as I wanted, that I’d head down Fairy Falls Track for awhile – just on the gentle, easy bit – to get that feeling of an enjoyable walk, feel like I’d accomplished more, but still not have to worry about straining myself or the workout that is the lower half of Fairy Falls Track.  And I did just that – walked a bit, then decided I’d had enough, turned around, and came back.

With both partial tracks together, total walk was 2.78 km, or about 5000 steps.

And on the drive home, just because I wanted to, I stopped at a scenic lookout and took this photo of Auckland.

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Cutty Grass Track

Cutty Grass track is one of those which has been teasing me from the road.  I’ve driven past it a number of times – I pass it on the way to Auckland City Track, and Fairy Falls track, and Lake Wainamu track.  I’ve also previously walked part of Ridge Road Track, which starts about the same place that Cutty Grass track finishes (when starting from Scenic Drive).

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Cutty Grass Track is a mostly straight, gently undulating track connecting Scenic Drive to Anawhata Road.  In fine weather, it’s a gorgeous but fairly unexciting walk.  I wouldn’t recommend it for rainy days, or shortly after periods of heavy rain.  It’s been a few days worth of sun here lately, and still the track was quite muddy in places, with dips in the track still full of mud and water.

Cutty Grass Track is 3.6 km in length, taking between an hour and 75 minutes to complete, one-way.  Turning around and going whence you came, of course, takes about twice as long and is roughly twice the distance.  ‘Roughly’ being the key word here – although at the end of the track (having completed the whole way there) I checked RunKeeper on my phone, which agreed I’d walked 3.6km.  On completing the way back, however, RunKeeper informs me that my total workout was 6.4 km long.  So, despite being the exact same track, with no real opportunities for shortcuts should I have wanted (it’s pretty straight anyway) – apparently the way back is nearly a kilometer shorter than the way there.  Go figure.

Not much else worth commenting about.  As usual on my walks, I heard lots of bird song and saw several tuis and kereru.  In addition, today I also spotted a silvereye (at least one; I either saw one twice, or two different ones) and a fantail right at the end.

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Tui – we think.  It’s our best guess.  Personally, it was the song that attracted me to his presence, and whilst I am quite familiar with tui calls and songs, this didn’t sound like that.  They are great imitators, however, so that ‘may’ explain it.  I didn’t hear the characteristic ‘cough’ of a tui, but that doesn’t say a lot.

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Silvereye.  Actually captured completely by accident (partially why it’s not the best photo) when I was hunting the above tui.

Also saw a fantail, but by the time my camera was at the ready, fantail had gotten bored of me and flown off.

And, my boots post-tramp.  I guess it’s safe to say they’ve been fully broken-in now.

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An Unexpected Adventure

Not every day I feel like an adventure, or a challenging walk.  I’m fine with that – I reckon it’s normal.  Some days I’m highly motivated, full of energy, and ready to tackle the world.  Other days I’m doing well to make it out the door.

Today was one of the latter.  To be fair, I did want to walk – and ideally to see something new – but I wasn’t in the mood for anything too grueling.

I poured over my maps a bit, and Lake Wainamu caught my eye.  The trail starts from a parking area near Te Henga (Bethell’s Beach).  I’d been to Bethell’s all of once, ever – and even then I didn’t go so far as to see the surf.  The track is a few hundred meters further inland that the actual beach, and I thought a walk to a lake would likely be relatively unchallenging.

Lake Wainamu

It started out innocently enough.

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The walk itself is mostly flat.  However, what I hadn’t planned for, was that the whole area was sand.  Obviously, I knew we were close to the shore – and I knew wetlands were in the area as well – but it never occurred to me that a beachside lake would be near, or made up of, sand.  Or, for that matter, trails leading to said lake.

The Lake Wainamu trail is part of the Hillary Trail, which typically means fairly good trail markers along the way.  It’s also rated as a “walk” rather than a tramping track, which again usually means higher quality trail marking / trail quality.  In this case however, the trail (and the markers for it) had to battle the elements – and the fact that the trail goes largely beside a wandering, sand-based stream that likely doesn’t even take the exact same path itself on a day to day basis.

About here, it started to get interesting.

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The orange marker is the trail marker.  It’s also on the other side of the stream to the trail thus far. I wasn’t too phased by this, however.  The stream was shallow, and sand-based (as mentioned above).  No risk of sliding down rocks here.  I did decide to take off my boots to cross though, as I figured it was easier.  So, I sat down, stripped off my hiking boots and socks, then waded carefully across the stream (only about ankle deep at it’s deepest in that location).  Once on the other side, I sat down, put on hiking socks and boots, and carried on.

Until here.

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Around about here, the trail disappears completely.  Previously, though, a sign had pointed out that lake access was had either via dunes, or via the stream, so I had just assumed that the trail (by the stream so far) was going by the stream, and I knew the stream eventually led to the lake, so figured following it was the safest bet.

However.  What I hadn’t expected, nor planned for, was that around about here the trail disappears, because the stream is the trail.  The stream is surrounded on one side by the dunes (which I wasn’t keen to climb) and on the other side by private land, and they weren’t shy about telling people it was very much private land.

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So, I sat down, again, stripped off socks and shoes, again, and proceeded to trudge through the stream.  Had I known that a significant amount of the trail was via water (or, for that matter, sand), I would have worn different socks and shoes!  As it was, I ended up carrying my boots in one hand, and splashing about with my feet.

Eventually – after nearly giving up a couple different times, when there was no obvious way and the stream narrowed (and thus, deepened) I did make it to the lake.

There is a separate trail that circles the lake – I put on my socks, and boots (again) and started down this, and it was beautiful (and much more of an obvious trail than the one too the lake, too!) but turned back when I hit the first fence.  The fence has an obvious crossing, but I was beginning to worry about running out of daylight, and figured that was as good a time as any to head back – I didn’t want to push my luck by doing the whole lake circuit.

Coming back, I trialled staying as much out of the stream as possible, and also for awhile, just wearing the boots in the stream.  I will happily report that at several times the boots got up to ankle deep, and were still bone dry inside (apart from the dampness that came from having put wet feet into socks several times).  The boots got thoroughly wet, for several minutes at a time (although walking during that space) and held up remarkably well. But I still ended up taking them off (again) and wading through the stream barefoot (again) in part because I didn’t want to get the boots to the point where they weren’t waterproof – and in parts because I was worried a deep section of the stream would come above the top cuffs / laces of the boots.

Wandering back, I met some cows – and calves.

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I also ended up coming back partially via the driveway / roadway that runs alongside the stream for awhile.  This was largely accidental – merely, I lost the trail (again).  I knew I could simply walk in the stream the whole way back, but my legs were tired and sore from walking in the sand that much, and I really hadn’t felt in the mood to be wading at all in the first place.  So I found the dry option (again putting on boots) but lost the Hillary Trail markers.  Eventually I found Tasman View Drive, where the driveway lets out, and followed that road back to the carpark.

A sandy, wet, walk was not what I wanted when I set out today.  And having walked approximately 5.5 km (between wandering around looking for the path, and actual walking the path), a good part of that barefoot in the sand, my legs are definitely feeling it.  However, I also discovered a fantastic natural playground, for another day – when we have a full day (and am not running out of daylight by the minute) and the kids with me, and proper gear for a sandy / beachy day.  I think it’d be an awesome place to bring the kids to, muck around in stream without having to worry much about the toddlers, and send the big kids up the dunes to come down them via boogeyboard (totally awesome experience by the way, but you DO end up with sand  e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e ).  With light / no shoes, lots of sunscreen, swimming togs, and a picnic lunch, the stream / dunes / lake / trails would be a fantastic family outing.  But as a walk for walk’s sake…. not so much.

Facing Fears

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been picking and choosing which trails I do, largely looking for flat or relatively flat tracks.  At the same time, I’m hoping to train for bigger and better tracks, including ones with significant grades.

So today, I decided ‘to hell with easy’ and decided to tackle Fairy Falls.  I’d heard it was a wee bit more strenuous than the walks I’ve been doing to date.  Looking up descriptions of the trail online confirmed this, in a way.  Typical descriptions read “easy grade, aside from the stairs”.  One commenter said “stairs go on forever, allow extra time for them on the way back”.  Although the council’s description is a bit less specific but somewhat more accurate – first, “descends steeply”, followed by “then descends extremely steeply”.   But, it’s meant to be a beautiful sight at the end, and the time estimated was right in the ballpark of what I was after today.  Not to mention that I’m running out of flat-ish tracks in the area.

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I made sure I was well supplied – had a total of 1500mls of water (3x 500 ml), a couple muesli bars, hiking boots on and hiking poles.  The descent was fairly easy and uneventful for over half of the track – the pathway itself is actually a very slight grade, with steps interjected here and there where the mountain side gets slightly steeper.  In many places the steps aren’t truly needed, and indeed in some of them it’s clear some trailblazers have simply gone around them.

Then there’s the stream.  The stream itself isn’t that surprising, as obviously waterfalls will at some point require a stream or other water source.  What did surprise me was the lack of a bridge over said stream where the path crosses.

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To be entirely honest, I nearly turned back here.  But today was partially about facing fears, and there was no reason to limit that to strenuous work.

There are two reasons I don’t like very steep paths.  One is the obvious – it’s bloody hard work, and I’m relatively new at this and still, by my mind at least, pretty unfit.  I’m not worried about actually dying – I’m not that unfit – but I am concerned about feeling like I am!  That’s part of why I like to go alone as well, of course – this way I’m not holding anyone up, but can stop as needed to catch my breath before continuing on.

The other reason, however, is that I don’t always like downhills, either.  I’ve never felt particularly surefooted, but now that I’m an adult, and significantly less fit than as a kid, I feel more clumsy than ever.  I don’t always do descents well, and I’m hyper aware of this.  I’m terrified of going ass over teakettle – and the downside of being alone in this case is that there’s no one there to get immediate help.  I also have a shoulder that’s prone to dislocating.  In most ‘normal’ circumstances, it doesn’t – but it has in the past when flailing to keep my balance (in all cases while pregnant, which loosens the ligaments), and I’m worried that exactly that sort of situation might pop it out again, despite not being pregnant.  Walking with my hiking poles helps in that regard – gives me something to push down on, and also stops me flailing as much – even if I fall, I’m that much less likely to do my shoulder in.  Plus ideally, of course, they help prevent falling in the first place.

Further still, I’m not comfortable with rocks.  To be fair, I’ve only had one collision with a boulder, and that was in entirely different circumstances.  However, I’ve hiked paths – and been around hiking paths – as a child (with camp groups and the like) that were significantly rocky, and in a couple cases, also featured streams and/or waterfalls.  Memory is foggy now, but I have in my head that one year at camp there was a significant and serious incident with a camper who was climbing one of these rocks, only to slip and break several bones.  To be fair, what’s left with me is the imprint of the warning, and the terror that that could very easily be me.  I don’t think I ever saw the kid in question, if it was even at the same time I was there.  But the fear remains with me.

Instead of turning back here, however, I decided to push on.  The rocks involved weren’t that big.  There looked to be relatively stable places to place my feet.  There was, as pictured, the railing to cling to. And I might as well test out the waterproofing of my hiking boots.  (End result – they passed).

Immediately after the stream crossing came the stairs.

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The picture doesn’t really do the stairs justice – the path turns the corner, the stairs keep going.  The steepest of the stairs had hand-rails on at least one side though, which was appreciated, although my poles and hand rails are not a great mix.  But with me feeling clumsy on my feet, I take any assistance I can get.  In general, I prefer stairs to very steep grades without stairs – again, the clumsiness.  I worry (especially when the ground is wet) about sliding down on my bum, or worse.  Stairs at least, I can take slowly and deliberately, and not have my feet go on at speed without the rest of me willingly following.

The descent down – and even, going back, the climb up – was well worth the views, however.  Fairy Falls is a cascading waterfall that just keeps on going.  There’s two different sections to it (the stream turns a corner as well) but even the pictures here at least hint at their beauty.

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The water at the bottom is ice cold, and a pool that would be deep enough – and likely easy enough – to swim in.  I didn’t bring any supplies to do so however 😉   Instead of rushing away into a gushing river (and carrying people in the pool away with the current, for example) the pool merely overflows onto the rock that is the end of Fairy Falls Track.

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Sitting in the comfort, now, of my home, with my feet up, I can say that the climb back to the top wasn’t really that bad.  It was definitely hard going at times, but I came prepared for that.  The hardest part, both mentally and physically, and both going down and coming back up, was crossing the stream.   Which is not to say that I didn’t take frequent breaks to catch my breath when ascending the stairs, because I certainly did.  But stairs I can handle – just one foot in front of the other.  The stream crossing threw me a bit – but again, in the end, I handled it successfully.  Fairy Falls Track, on many levels, proves to me (and anyone following) that I can indeed do these things.  I may still be unfit – or at least think of myself as so – but given enough time, and my own pace, I have the determination to get through.  And I will.

About halfway through the track, there’s an intersection with another track, and, as at most maintained track intersections, the sign points to the second half of the current track with an estimated time to complete on it.  In this case, 20 minutes to the falls, 20 minutes to the start of the track at Scenic Drive.  Conveniently, it also fairly accurately marks where the track changes from a very cruisy grade with very few stairs, to a track loaded with stairs (and a stream crossing).  Passing this sign on the way back up, I felt nothing less than triumphant.  Completing steep tracks still isn’t easy; I don’t know if I’ll ever think it is.  But the physical high (“runner’s high” despite not running) combined with the pride of knowing I’ve tackled a challenge successfully that previously I would have shied away from attempting at all – that’s one of the best feelings in the world.  I’m thinking I don’t need to be quite so fearful of hills after all.

Facing some Issues

Today I tackled Auckland City Walk.  Not to be fooled by the name, Auckland City Walk is well out of the city, in the heart of the Cascade-Kauri Regional Park (again, part of the wider Waitakere Ranges Regional Park).

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The walk is described as one of the best, and most popular, in the wider Waitakere Regional Park.  Yet I’ve been hesitant to do it, despite the fact it fits quite a lot of my requirements – it’s through the bush, has some outstanding views (mostly just bush, but that’s part of what I love). It’s a very gentle, easy path – some minor rises here and there, but nothing major; it’s rated as suitable for push-chairs (albeit all-terrain style) which tells me it’s well-maintained and also reaffirms the gentle grades.

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Auckland City Walk is encompassed in the greater “Ark in the Park”, which is a place where native birds are being reintroduced to the forest and pests are controlled as best as possible.  Whether it’s because of this, or whether I just got lucky, I managed to capture more birds than normal.  I always hear birds on my walks – it’s one of the things I love the most when walking.  However, even in the thick of bush – maybe especially in the thick of the bush – I very rarely see the birds, let alone be able to capture them with my camera.  Sometimes I even know, based on calls and rustlings, which tree their in – but spotting them is an entirely different story.   Today I actually saw tui, kereru, quail, a fantail, and pukekos – complete with pukeko chicks.  Not all of these I managed to capture – but three of five ain’t bad.

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Quail

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Kereru – also known as the New Zealand wood pigeon.  Sleeping, so not a great photo as he appears headless.

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Pukeko family – 2 adults and a chick

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Pukeko Chick – they were startled by a car behind me so took off running.

I think my mental stumbling block comes in that Auckland City walk is the very first part of the greater Montana Heritage Trail.  I very much want to do the Montana Heritage Trail.  That trail, however, is a 4-hour / 8 km hiking trail, that is described both as “beautiful” but also “not for the faint-hearted”.  The info board where Montana veers off from Auckland City Walk says to make sure you have food, water, proper hiking footwear – and are fit.

Ah, that.  “Are you fit enough?”

Truth be told, I don’t know if I’m fit enough.  But, more importantly, I still identify – and think like – a ‘fat girl’.  (Which, incidentally, I still am – but that’s another post). More specifically, I think like an unfit fat girl.

Yesterday, I did a three hour walk.  Sure, my feet were slightly sore afterwards – but only in the same way as feet are sore when you’re on them all day; nothing that carried over after a good night’s sleep.  Sure, it was a largely flat three hour walk, taken at a comfortable pace – but it was still a three hour walk.  Furthermore, I’ve been walking the majority of days, usually for a minimum of an hour, and more days than not I’m hitting at least 10,000 steps according to my FitBit.

Mentally, however, I’m still the fat kid that doesn’t get picked in PE classes.  The same one who struggles to walk up our hilly driveway.  The same one that dislikes any form of exercise, and whinges and complains after 10 minutes of walking with no opportunity to sit down for a breather.  Logically, I know that I’ve come at least a little ways past this in actuality.  But my gut reaction when seeing something that requires “good fitness levels” is that I don’t, and won’t, make the grade.

Can I do Montana Heritage Trail?  Honestly, I have no idea.  I don’t know of any other fat-but-gaining-in-fitness girls who have done it that I can ask.  And following in line with the described mentality, if I see something posted online rating the trail, I immediately invalidate their difficulty ranking because they’re fit people.  They’re not like me.

Admittedly, when I passed the fork for Montana Heritage Trail today, I felt a pang.  There was no denying that at the very least I couldn’t do it today – I had no gear, was wearing street shoes, had no snacks with me, and would run out of daylight within the four hour estimated time period (and again, I always assume I’ll take longer than the timing given, even though in most cases to date I’ve been fairly near each time for the paths I’ve done).

I want to do the Montana trail, at least in part to prove that I can do the Montana trail.  First though, I need to believe I can do it – and I’m still working on that part.

An Adventure

I woke up with a sense of adventure today. I didn’t have any set plans, but I felt like doing something grand.  My main walking window today would be between 11am and 5pm or so, and due to that I didn’t want to tackle anything too steep or challenging – the weather was good; almost too good – the New Zealand summer sun can be brutal. Something with a bit of length to it, but gentle grades, sounded good.

I have a handful of brochures from Arataki Visitor Centre that outline a selection of the tracks (though full, albeit brief, information on tracks within regional parks is available from the Auckland Regional Council‘s website).  Exhibition Drive caught my eye.  As the name implies, it’s a road – though technically a private road, that is open to pedestrians and cyclists but only approved vehicles (with vehicle gates at either end).  I’d opted against it several previous times, as it’s not one I wanted to tackle in the rain (I correctly assumed that there’s not much canopy covering the road) but it fit the bill for the length I wanted (3.5 km from start to finish, or 7km return) and the difficulty (an easy stroll).  I wore my sneakers (or, as Kiwis call them, trainers) but tossed my poles and boots in the car just in case.

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Exhibition Drive is everything I expected, but doesn’t have a whole lot more to offer. It’s widely used by walkers, joggers, dog walkers, and cyclists – and is certainly ideal for all of these.  It’s bordered, in most cases, by bush on both sides.  However, it feels more like walking beside the bush (and viewing into it at times) than actually walking through the bush.  The road has quite an open feel to it – fantastic if you’re claustrophobic, but not great if you want to tramp through the bush, or feel miles away from habitation.

What I hadn’t realised when making plans, was that Exhibition Drive ends at Mackies Rest – a place I’ve been before, and and an unparalleled view.  Mackies Rest is also the end point for Beveridge Track.

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Beveridge Track is a lovely stroll through the bush.  It’s a shared cycle / pedestrian track, quite easy going aside from one main hill.   It’s much more a part of the bush than Exhibition Drive, and I noticed it felt tangibly cooler as most of it is sheltered under the forest canopy.  I’ve done Beveridge Track once before, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  After finding Exhibition Drive a touch disappointing – simply because it’s less my style than others I’ve done – I was eager to do Beveridge again.  So, I just kept right on going.

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On it’s own, Beveridge Trail is approximately half an hour each way (1 hour return) from the Arataki Visitor Centre.  Combined with Exhibition Drive though, it’s a fair bit more arduous!  Going from the start of Exhibition Drive, to Arataki Visitor Centre, and back again is a total walk of 11 km, which took me – with photo stops – a touch over 3 hours to do.  Although the walks themselves aren’t challenging, the total length of the whole trip is the longest  walk I’ve done, at least as far as I’m aware of.  But adding Beveridge onto Exhibition made the whole trip far more interesting and enjoyable, and I’m thoroughly glad I did so – although my feet are still a touch sore!

Beating the Mood

I didn’t walk yesterday.  In part it was a pretty busy day – catching up with a friend from out of town, a spot of kid-free Christmas shopping, various running around and errands.   I needed a rest day though.

Today, however, I woke up in a Mood.  I’ve been diagnosed with Post-Natal Depression, and I suppose a side effect of that, is, of course, feeling rather low.  I’m on meds for it, which absolutely help, but I’m all about doing everything I can do for myself as well as part of the path to healing. The Mood was complicated (or possibly even caused) by the season.  I’m a Christmas Grinch, I find it an extremely difficult time of year for a variety of reasons.  Plus the big two girls had a crazy weekend last week with an end-of-year ballet concert performance, and this weekend the eldest had a gymnastics display.  Instead of getting any down time or catch-up time as a family, it feels like there’s something booked in every weekend and we spend the whole time rushing to have everyone where they need to be rather than just enjoying our family as it is.

Despite all that, I managed to get away for a bit.  My plan really wasn’t to go for a walk.  In actual fact, I had no real plan at all.  Nothing appealed, but staying home appealed even less.  In the end, I popped into one of the major chain stores here to pick up a stocking stuffer for the kids (not that they really needed any more) but that didn’t help my mood any.

I have a place I go when I want to escape the world.  It’s not exactly hidden or secret – it’s a very well known West Auckland beach, Piha.  Something about being at the beach – any beach – calms my soul.  Being at Piha, where there’s enough people not to feel isolated but few enough that it still feels large and expansive, plus the unique black sands, and the rough crashing of the waves, almost always helps put me at ease.   Today though, I went, sat in the car, and still felt exceptionally ‘meh’.  I read a bit in my book.  I felt slightly better, but still in a pretty rotten mood.

The weather was decent, the beach is, of course, flat, so I figured I’d just start walking.  I didn’t plan on going far, just walk a little bit then turn around, enough to feel a touch more virtuous.  I can’t say I was eager at the prospect though – really, that appealed even less.  Normally I quite enjoy walking along at the edge of the waves, getting my feet wet and walking in the sand, but today that appealed even less.  Sticking to the roads and/or paths was the plan.  I knew the area fairly well, so didn’t pick a ‘track’ as such, just followed the road (and at one stretch, and off-road path) along the beachfront.

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I got to the end – where the sand meets the cliffs at North Piha – and there’s a track that goes up the cliffs, Laird Thompson track.  I went a couple hundred meters up the track, expecting it to be steep.  Although it was definitely uphill (there’s not much other way to go from there, frankly) it wove its way around the side of the cliff, climbing as it goes, so it wasn’t as bad as I was afraid.  That said, I hadn’t worn hiking boots, didn’t have my hiking poles, and once again I found myself on a slightly muddy, slightly rocky, clifftop goat-like trail.  Deciding not to push it, I turned around and came back down.  Now, however, I was already in a significantly better mood – and now, walking in the waves appealed.  A lot.  Actually, what I wanted most was to go dive in the ocean, but I had less gear to do that than I did for hiking, so I contented myself with walking in the waves.

Handily enough, my camera bag is also and awesome catch-all bag.  I merely took off my socks and shoes and shoved all into the bag.   Now I could still walk hands-free – or, with camera in hand – and not worry about my shoes.

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Total distance of my loop beach walk – somewhere between 7 and 7.5 kilometers.  (FitBit tells me 8.5km but I reckon I take shorter steps than it thinks I do.  RunKeeper tells me 6.72km but I forgot to turn RunKeeper on until a bit after I’d started.)  End result – vastly improved mood, slightly sore and tired calves and feet.  I came home and soaked in the bath (otherwise black sand turns up freaking everywhere) and now I feel great.  And exhausted.  But a great way to end the day.