Duke of York Territory
...he marched them up to the top of a hill
At first, as we set out, my main reference is the Heaphy Track: what's similar and what is different? It's steeper for a start. down and up.
We begin just after lunch. The path heads down past the tarn
onto a boardwalk and into a stunted forest of lichen covered trees.
We head into the forest and begin to descend, at first gently
and then more steeply as we zigzag our way down towards the suspension bridge at the bottom of the hill. (Note, for the elderly and stout, the word "sidle" in any tramping notes commands a certain amount of attention. Normally it indicates a passage across a steepish slope - as a rule, some 45 degrees or greater - or a narrow track around a sheer bluff where height may be a factor. We shall be doing some sidling before very long.)
With a 50mm side mesh, board floor and a pipe handrail, this is one of the more substantial bridges. I make my way across it after a token show of blue funk. We begin to climb. We have company.
The track becomes rougher and more demanding. It's no longer a case of put one in front and then put the other. Each step commands attention, or invites a stumble. There's no rhythm to be had.
The vegetation along the track is rich and varied. This time around I know a little more than last time, but still only scratching the surface.
This first leg has perhaps the richest variety of vegetation. The beech forest we meet later on, while never boring, is nevertheless much more restricted in the range of plants present.
We cross endless streams, down one side and up the other. A thick carpet of moss covers the ground. This is not the Heaphy, where such streams tend to be bridged, saving the legs a good deal. Bridges there are but they are nowhere near as common. Now and again it eases into some level going, with a thick carpet of beech leaves underfoot,
and then it's back to boulder hopping