Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Rimutaka Rail Trail

Thursday 9 October was a gloriously sunny day, just perfect for cycling. We tossed up whether we should ride the Rimutaka Rail Trail or ride to Pencarrow. We decided on Rimutaka, as we thought we’d better do some hills.

From previous experience, we knew that the summit plateau is a beautiful place for a picnic, so we stopped at Brown Owl to get some Subway mini subs for our lunch, before heading to the start of the trail.

We last rode this trail in June, when the sun was low and much of the track was in the shade. Now, it was beautifully sunny and along the edge of the track the rangiora shrubs were flowering. The flowers grow in clusters and are very small. Most were still in bud.

The tiny flowers of rangiora (Brachyglottis repanda) have yet to open

The leaves of the rangiora (Brachyglottis repanda) are glossy on the top, but soft and fuzzy on the back, which has earned them the name of “bushman’s friend”, as they were used as toilet paper by early settlers. Māori have also used the leaves as poultices for wounds. A very useful plant!

Some sections of the track go under the canopy of pine trees. In some places it was strewn with debris and pine cones, as we’d had galeforce winds a few days earlier, but there was a beautiful scent from the trees.

A tiny waterfall provides perfect growing conditions for many mosses (photo by John)

The Pakuratahi River, from Ladle Bend Bridge (photo by John)

The track climbs high above the river, under the pine trees. I found it a lot easier with my modified gearing, and I was able to stay in the middle gear all the way.

Much easier in the middle gear now (photo by John)

There’s a lovely view to the river through the trees (photo by John)

The ride to the summit – 10 km – takes just an hour. We did not go down the other side. We’ve tried it once before and didn’t like it because of the long, very dark tunnel, and the steepness and roughness of the track.

So we sat in the sun and ate our somewhat squashed mini subs – thanks to my jacket having been stuffed on top of them in my pannier.

As we were about to leave, a woman and her three teenagers arrived and stopped for a chat. They were going down to the Wairarapa side, where her partner would be meeting them. She offered to take a photo of us both.

At the Rimutaka Summit (photo by another cyclist, with John’s camera)

The rusting remains of train engines at the Summit

The return ride back to the car took less than an hour. We had done 20 km.

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