Tuesday rolls along and with it an adventure. I wake up early and pack my bag, make a quick phone call to check the status of my bike repair, then grab a bike and rush not tobe late. I get to the bus stop just a minute before my bus arrives, and then struggle for another minute trying to get the bike on the bike rack. I finally do but at the next stop a man takes forever to find his change and then the bus driver takes a wrong turn and has to do a U-turn on a busy street in Christchurch… that was a sight to behold. I consigned my self to the fact that things were running slow and tried to take in the sights of Christchurch as the bus – slowly – made its way to the east side of Christchurch. I finally get off (a stop later than I asked due to another lapse on the drivers part) and make my way to the bike shop to pick up my Bike. Thank fully they tightened the spokes so now it rides quiet, but they didn’t do to well at keeping the wheel true… oh, and let me assure you that none of these events were really mistakes. Indeed this post has nothing to do with any mistakes, except that my first destination is Taylor’s Mistake.
On my way at last I mounted up in my saddle and peddled onward. I took up a grin for nick (wink) as I fell into my rhythm as I passed across the bridge and came along the shore of the Estuary of the Heathcote. Passing by beaches on the left and cliffs on the right, looking out to sea – a sea of clouds above and water below that fade into an indiscernible horizon. Through Sumner I went until BAM! in front of me rose Scarborough and I mashed and huffed through 1.4 km to rise 140 m (average of 10% grade) barely able to sustain in my lowest gear (that’s 38:28). But I did and at the top I parked my bike, removed layers and gulped water before venturing towards Taylor’s Mistake.
I then walked along the path to Taylor’s Mistake, allowing my pulse and breathing to slow again. I was on the lookout for a place to enjoy the sea-coast and eat my breakfast, maybe have a little spoonful of peanut butter as a protein boost. As Tourists tend to do I took the little side path that led towards a precipice and found the path continued to pick a trail down the bluffs towards the sea. On I went, descending through layers of igneous and sedimentary rock. Pausing to admire the fluvial erosion eating away the cliff, and constantly returning my ear to the crashing surf below – pounding, ever pounding the rocks to marbles. I realized I would reach sea level and could eat on the water practically. For a while I could not eat. I found a nice enough spot, and that was just the problem.
Just ahead of me, and on either side the ancient bones of the Littleton volcano were being eaten away by the tides. Waves crashed into the sharp, serrated edges – throwing angry froth into the air. And the water wove in through the gaps and wrapped its sensual embrace around other rocks protected by. In-between, water rushed down vanishing waterfalls or rolled over ledges to eddy and skirt and run and dip and dive through channels and around corners and bend around sharp and curved-round rock alike.
And again, after I did finally lay me down to eat and had distractedly downed musli and fruit. My attention instead was lost to the auditory exploration of the crashes – the booming – the rushing; those sounds that surrounded me. I returned then to explore the very edges of this rock water interface we call the coast. I found repeated the same wonders of weaving waves and leaping froth. But also found the pattern iterating in ever smaller nooks and crannies along that boundary until the viscous property of water simply left droplets of spray crawling down the rocks.
Alas I decided I had observed enough, and I itched to return to my bike. I skipped across the sharp rocks, through the spray, over the speckled eggs, and then back up the cliffy bluff. My map didn’t extend to this portion of Christchurch so by memory I explored the neighborhoods for a route to the summit. I didn’t find it, though a post trip map consultation assures me there should be a walking path there at least, but that was all right for I descended (150m) instead to the true cove known as Taylor’s Mistake. I decided to leave the beach for later and, once again leaving my bike, instead made my way up along the Godly Head track to circumambulate the head of the peninsula.
As the coast is steeply eroded by cliffs the track wound its way up and down, in and out. With me sprang the little white hoofs of lambs, quickly running to mothers who bleated nervously at my approach. The track would follow contours, then dive down along stream beds nearer to the coast only to once again rise up and then veer away from the coast to approach the high-rise at the end of the head. There the concrete skeletons of WWII barracks stood stark on the land scape. Below them I wandered into the, not so icy but rather warm and enveloping blackness of, storage rooms. black concrete walls provided an interesting hall to bounce echoes, trying to pierce with echolocation while continuously enjoying the sound of my voice and echos and footfalls.
I was now on the bay, near Littleton harbor. I had switched to the Crater Rim Track a track I could hardly follow as my eyes lifted to the cloud shrouded hills across the water and the cliffs highlighting the undulations of my side of the bay. No sheep roamed here, and the grass was taller,
the foliage more diverse, the ground softer and less compacted. On this bayward sloping face I found a nice pad of grass to sit/lie on and have lunch – yes my favorite peanut butter and banana. After which I enjoyed my view and read up on the measurement of the planets mass and age in A Short History of Nearly Everything. It was a very comfortable and natural nest, I kinda felt like sleeping on that gray dreary sort of day…
But the track beckoned so I ambled on, across a fence and back into sheep land. Many lambs here and so full of energy. One seemed very curious, but I had simply gotten between it and its mother and it was confused and asking for her. A roll in the hill called to me as the wind blew. across many miles perhaps the same wind had called another name. I was hesitant. But knew I would enjoy a bit, so I took out my kite and set up. launching I explored the power window profile. Moving laterally on the hill I found interesting updrafts and backflows to play with. I missed my true delta, but parachutes are so much fun to swoop and swerve with, and kissing the earth with them is so much safer, especially on grass where it just bounces off! I left after a while but, as i predicted, was glad I had taken the moment to fly.
I returned to Taylor’s Mistake and now walked along the beach. sweet sand… my how amazing the beach is. I can do without it so well, and don’t know when it’s gone, but it is such an interesting, slowly evocative sort of place for me. I struggle to decide to fully surrender to the sandy mess and wonder of it and always flirt with the lapping waves. At low tide the beach here is long and flat, would be a wonder for a skim board, and is a perfect canvas.
The journey was almost over. one last climb back over Scarborough, down into Sumner, a quick stroll at the beach there, watching a slight rose filter through the clouds over the ocean, noting the endless horizon. then a bit of a bike back into the estuary where I caught the bus into town. But buses don’t seem to like me and I had to get off before city center and so rode the last half hour home to arrive as dusk enveloped New Zealand.
And here all again, to view the sights as one gallery.