I rang Owen Moore on Saturday, asking if I could go on the tramp the next day - a bit late, you might say, but he agreed. Then a fellow Wainuiomartian (who shall be nameless) rang me and offered me a lift to the Karori Mall, which was the meeting point. Great !
The trip was described as: SOUTH KARORI/SOUTH COAST/HAWKINS HILL AND RETURN. All the way into Wellington, my Wainui compatriot extolled the virtues of that walk, which she had been on several times, and kept going back on. Lot of variey, wonderful views, she said. Of the South Island ? I supposed. Yes, she said.
The weather was great in Wainui and in the Hutt, so we looked forward to a great trip. Karori was fairly overcast, but I predicted that the six of us would have fine weather by lunchtime - and I was proved right, as it happened.
The weather was warm - a temperature of 21 degrees, but also strong winds, were forecast. People wondered if I was getting too hot, wearing an unbuttoned parka. As we climbed, the wind became more noticeable. I buttoned up my parka, and other people put on more clothing.
Morning tea was spent crouched down behind a natural windbreak. Then we pressed on. We saw the sea. My Wainui compatriot had been right: we could see the South Island - but only a couple of glimpses through the cloud. Later we saw snow on the top of a lofty peak.
The wind was getting really strong now, as we wound around the hill, heading for the beach. I suggested that we would want to keep away from the edge of the cliff, to avoid being blown over... I was in second position, when I suddenly saw the lady (who shall also be nameless) at the front of the goup fall onto her bottom at the next corner. She stayed in a sitting position, and the arms that propped her up were shaking. Whats happened ? I thought. Has she broken her elderly legs ?
When I came to the corner, I suddenly understood. I was hit by a horizontal waterfall of wind, and sitting down suddenly seemed like a very sensible thing to do - the only option, almost. Wait for the leader, I thought. We wont want to go any further into this wind. My hat flew off and eventually landed 100 metres away, next to the cliff. One of the others came up, and, without stopping, made his way carefully over to my hat and retrieved it gingerely with his walking-stick. Id given it up for lost !
We had a confab and decided to turn back, without bothering to reach the beach. We paired up, each person grasping the pack or strap of their partner, and we struggled back up the way wed struggled down. The wind gradually waned - but every time we rounded a bend, the gaseous waterfall would hit us afresh. Eventually, we were able to loosen our grip on our partners, and free them to walk alone without fear.
So our trip was foreshortened, but we certainly got our exercise. And I was right - at noon, just before we finished our walk, the sun came out !