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Solitude and otherwise




Graeme and I headed into the woods on Monday, with a vague plan: ride some jungle trails, and beat the rain back to civilisation.

The first stop was on the aptly named Pipeline Road. There is spring water there on tap, and I can’t see the point of carting water on my back until I am thirsty, which is about the time I get to the spigot. It is right next to the mid-forest bus stop, where people wait in a queue for diesel assisted climbing.

There sat Rusty, an old riding mate we don’t get to see very often. He was easily shamed into riding up the hill with us.

Tuhoto Ariki was in perfect condition. Rusty had never ridden the trail, so we rode it with the added pleasure of accompanying a person experiencing its splendours for the first time.

We decided to go and do Kung Fu. Three young fellas were waiting at the trailhead for one of them to finish checking his Tinder or Snapchat his Squeezie, or whatever. They looked faster than me so we gave them a headstart.

I met them again mid-trail, which is a long walk from anywhere if you burp the air out of your tubeless tyre. One of the young fellas asked me if I had a pump, sounding like somebody who was facing a long walk, and had already asked the same question of two other guys. Neither of whom had pumps. Young fellas don’t carry pumps, but I do. And a chain tool, which I have carried religiously since I walked a long way when I was just about through with being a young fella myself. He was visibly delighted when I produced a functioning inflation device from my backpack, and didn’t even complain when it took about 100 strokes to fill his tyre. The pump is small, but it works, eventually.

Following the young fellas at a distance, and on a different schedule, I emerged to find my colleagues chatting to a gang of Amazon-like women. They were en route to the lower Walrus. We dived in ahead of them, and got to experience the thing twice.

Once in person, and again as listeners. We stood next to Lake Rotokakahi and followed the Amazons' progress as they commented on the various trail features loudly enough for each other, and anybody else within about half a kilometre, to hear.

Sometimes the forest is a place of solitude. On a long weekend, not so much. Either is awesome.




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