Montana Heritage Trail
Section 5: The Upper Kauri Track
This has a firm dry gravel surface through some lovely bush and it's overall a long gentle descent. The major kauri experience does not start until the next section, but there are a few magnificent tasters along the way.
Improved blood sugar notwithstanding, this is the longest walk I have done since the St James in March, and I am still tired and missing a little of my usual alertness. I am striding out, enjoying the firm, sure surface, and the slight downhill grade and completely fail to notice a 75mm branch level across the track at about forehead height. Until I hit it. To her credit, Miranda completely fails to see the funny side of this. The most she allows herself is a comment to the effect that I was lucky the branch moved as much as it did. So, for those around 181cm in height, be forewarned. There is a headhunting branch along this section.
The new improved track design continues.
What I do notice, though, is some more of the Alseuosmia macrophylla (Karapapa) we saw earlier, enough to scent the path from several feet away. Miranda gets a couple of good shots of it.
Also along here is a flower I do not recognise. I have tentatively identified it as Large Leafed Mahoe (Melicytus macrophyllus) — thanks to Tony Foster of Bushman's Friend. It is a lot more orderly in its flowering habit than M. ramiflorus (mahoe), with it's little creamy white bells all hanging downwards, not sprouting in all directions like mahoe, and lacking the mahoe's characteristic smell of cat's pee.
Here we have the first large kauri along this section of track and what I cannot figure out is why there is no boardwalk in the immediate vicinity of the tree. If the multitude of signs is to be believed, any weight on the soil around the base of the trunk will cause serious root damage, and yet the path is right beside the trunk.
The bush opens up here and there to allow a patch of light in, and the dappled light and shadow, together with the easy travel, make for a delightful combination.
Suddenly, beside the track is a really vigorous akeake, (Dodonaea viscosa) and I realise I've seen almost none of this so far along the track.
We reach the junction with the Lower Kauri Track, and we've made excellent time along here. Alice reckons it's time for a rest so we have a sit down break and a drink and a snack. Miranda has a bag of mixed dried fruit and nuts. I've been snacking on homemade biltong. The theory is that protein snacks give the body permission to access stored fat supplies for extra energy, and are thus good for weight management. Regardless, I like the salty, meaty flavour with the pepper/coriander mix spicing it up.
There's an information board here as well which tells us that native bats inhabit this part of the forest and that each one eats 3000 mosquitoes per night. We are also told that bats have no fixed abode, and Junior travels around with Mum, clinging onto her nipple with his teeth. As Alice says, "Sometimes it's hard to be a woman...."