|Up before the sun |
The sun hadn’t come up yet when
I started on the track to the Gnomon lookout - 1 hour return, before breakfast.
It was still misty too, but the clouds lifted by the time I reached the summit and
allowed me some splendid views over Mt.Duncan, the Western Tiers and some lush
looking farmland to the west.
|I start with the easiest one, though both go straight uphill|
|The mists begin to clear as I reach the first lookout point which overlooks Mt. Duncan|
|Better and better|
|At the top the sun finally comes up with perfect timing|
|On top of Old Gnomon|
After a hearty breakfast, I set
off again to Mt. Dial. This was a pleasant walk with a few greenhood
orchids along the way and lots of birds. Although it was very early, I encountered a clutch of young men who had walked from Mt. Montgomery four hours away. At the
base of the last uphill before the summit, I came upon what was the other end
of the Gnomon Trail which I had seen at Ferndene, but again there was no
indication of its length. I could also have saved myself another trip uphill,
if I had seen the Mt. Dial track from the top of the Gnomon as it passed
underneath, but although I could see a bit of a scrambly way down, you couldn’t
actually see that track from there.
I was a bit worried that if I slid down the
rock face for a look, I wouldn’t be able to get back up if it didn’t lead
It was very windy at the top
of both peaks so I didn’t linger long. From Mt. Dial being further
north, you could see the sea as well as the Western Tiers. Note that there are
no barriers here to stop you falling a long way down, so do watch children carefully
if you bring them here.
Apart from the tracks
and that bit of signage, there are no facilities here either, though there are
some at the Ferndene Picnic Area.
|Back up the hill|
|Looking up at Mt. Gnomon from the Dial track - wish I'd known there was a way to it as I would have saved myself a second slog up the hill|
|A little family of Greenhood orchids cheers me on|
Wow, two summits before
lunch! I’ll have to watch out or my reputation as slothbagger
will be in tatters. I also saw one raptor – possibly a
brown falcon, near the top - another bonus. Then, as I was walking back down, the clouds suddenly
dumped a light hail storm on me -not long – ten minutes perhaps, with tiny
hailstones. It was about the last thing I expected. True, throughout this trip the weather bureau had been promising dire
things – winds and storms, snow to 700m, but so far I had been extremely lucky
– cold yes, and with loud but dry thunder the night before, but with fair
weather for most walks except for a few moments at the Ferndene Picnic Area.
|View to the east from the top of Mt. Dial , with the Western Tiers in the background|
Looking north east you can see the sea
(Alas, only phone pics from now on)
Just as well I had worn a
light raincoat and also brought sunblock, water and a hat. You need all four on
any given day. The UV is quite intense in that clear air and especially so on the
West Coast. On a lighter note, I tried to charge the camera batteries with the inverter while I was walking because it makes such a horrible loud screeching noise. There were quite a few cars in the carpark when I got back, but none, absolutely none, anywhere near my car. I think I may have found the perfect anti -theft device. Too bad the battery charging didn't work.
I tootled around a bit after
that, staying in the same place at Riana that I did last year, enjoying the
drive over Gunn’s Plains with its lovely rustic scenery, its waterfall and wild
daffodils all around. Then, on the basis of a brochure I had found, decided that
I should take another look at Leven Canyon which, being a little off the beaten
track as well, I hadn’t seen for many years either. There had certainly been
some changes – better facilities, a lovely barbecue area, more walks, a second
lookout and the most amazing stairs.
|You know you are in the country when this happens. It must have taken a full 20 minutes for this long line of cows to cross|
This was pretty much the first
time I had had a good signal since Queenstown and a German friend had texted me
about the international climate change protests which had been on that day. It
made me feel really guilty. Here I was contributing to the problem and using
loads of fuel, driving up and down over all those mountains. However, at this stage there
didn't seem to be much point in simply turning around and going home. I may as well finish
what I planned to do in this area so I wouldn’t need to drive all this way
again. Still it puts a bit of a
damper on things and gnaws at me all the way home.