Day twenty. Herbertville to Tiraumea (where?)

Gale left me
I finally got to sleep. I’d teathered the prow of my tent into the wind and beaten off the best gale could give. I awoke late to carnage. 

I stumbled out of my tent to see a sea of ripped awnings, tents and debris. Gale had taken it out on everyone else. I had escaped her calling in the night. 

It was late, I was tired with a pain in my left knee. This wasn’t a good start to my day. 

I decamped at pace and made my way out of the wide valley. A gentle steady pace. Passing open green fields and cows chewing on their early cud. Their necks pivoting in unison as I rode past. I could almost hear them humming out another Glen Campbell classic…

“…That keeps you in the back roads. By the rivers of my memory. That keeps you ever gentle on my mind”

I smiled back. 

The road goes ever upward

I reached Wimbledon easily and then things went into a purgatory of stiff peaks and valleys, this was the east coast. I kept a low profile (only way to ride), trying to stay hidden but before long they saw me… Gales three sisters. One from the west, one the south and the other at times from the east. They were obviously here to defend gales virtue and they were going to abuse me all day. 

I pushed on, into the world, like hells billiard table, never smooth and always tormented and frequented by gales three sisters. 

I was sore, hot and hungry. I saw the sign, like forgiveness on the back of a prayer. It read ‘pub lunches at Pongaroa hotel’, that’s when the hallucinations started. 

Was it going to be a pie, fish and chips, a burger and fries, a pub lunch. The prayer became a curse for more than an hour. Then I arrived. 

Pongaroa isn’t much, it maybe was once, but now it’s another small slow drive by in the middle of the east. It did have what I needed though, a pub and a menu. 


Gales sisters waited outside for me. I decided to take my time, Alfredton was my ambitious destination, but already this day felt like a day to concede. 

A night in the field. 

I continued on south by south west. An immediate climb has become oh so frequent. That climb eventually leaded to a pass just north of Tiraumea and when I reached it I could see distance south all the way to the Tararua’s and the Rimutaka. All the way the devil was playing the black. 

I descended, I was spent and as I turned past the abandoned Tiraumea school house the road rose again. I straddled my bike and gazed upward. 

One more climb and what lies beyond? Was it the promised flat lands of the Wairarapa or was the devil setting up for another break?

I wouldn’t know, his table and  enterouge of gales sisters had beaten my today. I swore at that hill. 

Withdrawing to the safety of that old field behind the school house, I shared camp with a herd of scraggly sheep.

That golden light

Tired, floating deep in the yellow grass in the heat of a yellow summer I thought back to ‘On the road’ and Jack Kerouac. I love that book. 

I remembered leaving my well thumbed copy in a crappy old cabaña back in Talum years ago. It’s one dog eared page marked with an inscription I left with an old weathered pencil. It reads ‘a passage for a wayward traveler’ marked next to highlighted text…

‘…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…’

“what it is to be so mad to live”… I said aloud to no one in particular. 

Today’s top track: Sufjan Stevens – Death with dignity 

1 thought on “Day twenty. Herbertville to Tiraumea (where?)”

  1. Loved “that golden light” and the quote by Jack Karouck. Thats been me, our Pete, when I was younger. That was what climbing was about (mainly). Mad to risk life, as Gerald would tell me, on something like useless, climbing a hill – all I could say to him was you needed to have been there. Life without adventure (in those days) was not life – I used to call it “seeking certain lost perspectives” –

    Still there a bit I suppose with EEZ, but then I spend more time minimizing the risk then I ever do flying the thing. With climbing it was about maximizing the risk. I know I said it was done in beautiful places, by way of excuse, and for sure that’s true. But for a few weeks a year climbing allowed me to be a man and to be brave. I miss those days, that feeling. That perfect feeling.

    A couple of days ago, I took Cush and Trish to the Hokitika Gorge. Huge parties of tourists and it was lost on me why all those people would want to gather in a place in the wilderness along with all the rest. I overheard one young German man explaining to someone that he had just “done Fiordland”. What the hell does that mean? Had he spent months in that wilderness, or had he merely caught the bus to Milford Sound from Te Anau? How the hell do you “do Fiordland”? So far as I know, Fiordland is ambivalent.

    I’ve always loved this:

    “The light died in the low clouds

    Falling snow drank in the dusk.

    Shrouded in silence, the branches wrapped me in their peace

    When the boundaries were erased, once again the wonder: that I exist” (Dag Hammarskjold)

    Love you and cant wait to catch up

    C&T

    ________________________________

    Like

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