Friday, 5 March 2010

Hokitika and the Cesspool Gorge

I make my way to Hokitika, turn left toward the gorge and follow the signs. Quite a few doglegs, the roads are straight and appear to be following the property lines of some big farms all on the flat. Eventually I cross the river, milky from the glacier and find the parking. The toilets are not yet operational. No one is there.... however soon quite a number of vehicles arrive. The walkway is brand new taking us to the suspension bridge and then a rough track to waters edge. The water is boiling through here, one fellow seems to think he might go swimming! I don't stick around to see it, instead follow a stream a ways and avail myself of some healing herbs; yarrow, plantain and dock. Some realizations come home, my sinus infection, swimming in the sea, different climate, changes to my perspective. It all seems to come together, although I wonder what Louise Hay has to say....
Back into Hokitika and to river's mouth, looking for stones. The sea air brings on a powerful release, I work with it, making sure not to get blood all over my nice clean jacket. I breath deeply till one nostril is free then finally the other. Found some nice stones too, in spite of promising myself NOT to collect any. Like that's going to happen. Looking at the map I see Cesspool Gorge. That has a certain attractive ring to it. Getting there involves driving around Lake Kaniere, somehow I take the other road and drive around the opposite way I imagined. I really need a pilot to read the map. I stop a fellow walking and he tells me about some cowboy shootout rifle range where the gate might be locked. I decide to chance it and after driving a long time end up at the rifle range.In the dark. It looks deserted but out the fellow comes and directs me to the trail head. Unfortunately I'm not completely sure.
Morning comes, only one slight episode, raining and I figure this must be the gate. Slog along through the wet grass, then along the river bed. I see what appears to be jade, greenstone, boulders of it all sorts of greens and black. I find a few pieces I think might be the stuff then head into the bush up a a slight cliff looking for the trail. Right away I spot some amazing examples of Chicken of the Woods. Huge they are. I find some trail markers, bluepots nailed to trees. The trail is illusive, I have to zigzag through thick bush numerous times to find it. I continue on over a slip, broken trees, exposed rock on a cliff face, swamp, no sign of the trail etc till I come exhausted to a slippery climb seemingly straight up. I realize I am really not up to this, soaking wet, heart racing, legs like jelly. I head back and get lost, again and again zigzaging to find the trail markers. I attempt to go to the river and down but no... I am on an overhang 20 or 30 feet up, rocks below. I lay on my back a few times to get my breath back and my heart rate to slow, I am tripping, slipping and sliding bushes whacking me in the face. I find the trail and lose it, go too far and backtrack, climb up and down the edge of the cliff. When I finally arrive back at the van completely soaked and exhausted I look at the map..... The trail is on the other side of the river. But I didn't have a nose bleed!

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