Tuesday, January 20, 2009

1250 metres up

The other day I took the boys up to the top of Mt Wellington. We've been for a few walks on the mountain lately, but not right to the pinnacle. It was a hot day and I was feeling sick of sweating every time I moved.

It was beautiful up top. Not much wind, didn't need jumpers. The boys just wanted to set off west across the alpine tundra. I struggled to keep them on a track, or at least on a bit of already-trodden ground.

Some days when I am up there I just want to look over the city and down the river and out to sea. Other days I am more attracted to the view west, over the Wild Heritage Area. I am not a bushwalker's bootlace, so it gives me a thrill to look out over this vast tract of land that would be the end of me, if I was to head off into it alone.

As you near the top of Pinnacle Road, the vegetation gets sparser and lower and tougher. Its a very harsh environment for plants, and my understanding is that small plants with very small leaves or needles, and lichen are the only things that will thrive up there. It's wonderful to get up there on a calm, warm day in summer. There are flowers and insects and animals on show that you would never suspect were possible, on a normal day (normal being sub-zero with a gale blowing straight through you).

We saw a few different kinds of crickets, including these. The one below is in the top left of picture, camouflaged to match the lichen. We saw skinks twice the size of the ones that dart about our garden at home. We saw a strange diamond-shaped fluttering thing, that turned out to be two insects mating on the wing. Impressive.

We climbed a few piles of rocks, culminating in the actual Pinnacle with a trig point on top of it. Michael thought this was beyond excellent. He is very fond of the word "pinnacle" but it comes out differently every time.

On the way down we stopped at the spot where a spring gushes down a rock wall just by the road. I have seen people many times filling bottles here, and I'm sure I have done it myself. I seem to remember it being quite easy. This time I was wet through by the time I had two small bottles of spring water, much to the amusement of my children. Judging by the temperature, the spring was fed by snowmelt. Very refreshing.

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