Awatere Tussock Track Again!

 Forget the garden!
Head Gardener Hiker

Non-Gardening Partner and I are just back from a wee holiday. Some NGPs would find themselves car-touring in a blur of cafe-stops, with maybe a short walk to a modest waterfall. Not us! We've been tramping on a high country station in the inland Awatere Valley. High means ridgelines and mountains, station means sheep farming.

Lucky Non-Gardening Partner!

I've walked the Awatere Tussock Track once before ('walked' makes it all sound rather soft), and I was very excited to return with Non-Gardening Partner. Lucky bloke!

I knew he'd like the magnificent high country, with rolling tussock hills, gullies filled with native bush, and scary rocky ridgelines high above. He'd be so proud of me having already done the difficult bits of the route. Perhaps he would like to extend himself by climbing Mount Malvern on the very top...

 Day one - with Mount Malvern and Billygoat Saddle in the distance, on the left.
On the Awatere Tussock Track

The track sidles, scrambles, and eventually climbs up to Billygoat Saddle underneath Mount Malvern - which rather scared me on my first trip, since I thought the track continued on up there. Phew!

Feeling Small, Thinking Big...

On rocky Billygoat Saddle (the highest point of the trip) I feel comfortably small while thinking huge thoughts of a deep and meaningful nature. Nature! I feel so priveledged, proud to be up here, so much nearer the sky than usual. I gush thanks for my good nerves (and good boots, socks, legs, and so on).

But we are a contrasting pair. While I sit on the good earth's rocks in giddy awe, Non-Gardening Partner spends this momentous moment 'baa-ing' at the merino ewes with their chunky lambs, many of whom are grazing high up the bluffs. He has a variety of sheep voices (impossible to distinguish from the real ones), ranging from a gurgling baritone right up to squeaky lamb-soprano.

New Eyes

On this trip I seem to have new eyes. The second day climbs are easier, the gullies below me are gentler, the rocks less scrambly, the distances far less daunting. Top Hut seems the shortest of jaunts away from the saddle (as it has always been, I guess).

 Me and my hiking friend.
The Old Musterers Hut

Day Three

On the third day our track passes an old musterer's hut and then wiggles down a bush-clad stream gully filled with tootling bellbirds and native bush. The closeness of this watery greenery is such a contrast with the sidling sheep tracks on the hot tussock hills above. So is Non-Gardening Partner enjoying this part of our track? Oh yes - he is busy whistling back at the birds, who are getting highly irate. Flightless avian interlopers in their forest!

What About My Garden?

Isn't it funny? I hardly thought about my garden at all while we were away - that shows what a great time I was having. And which bit was the 'best bit' for Non-Gardening Partner? He couldn't choose - he liked it all. The perfect response.

What happens to us now, after our Awatere Tussock Track trip? NGP has spent ages on Google Earth zooming up and over the route (which he's plotted from his GPS). In three dimensions! He can just about identify every knob and gully. I've been 're-hiking' the track mentally, hovering timelessly up the spurs and floating dreamily across the tussock meadows. Yes, we are different.

A Life Member

And a wonderful surprise - the farm owners have generously made me a 'Life Member' of the Awatere Tussock Track. Yippee! I'll be back.