Long Rd runs from Bethells Rd right through to Simla. This section of track is shown in red
It begins as tarseal, changes quite soon to gravel and makes its way past a series of lifestyle blocks sporting quite substantial homes. One of them I note, has a ute parked in front, number plate "1 TRUTH".
I nod to myself. Only problem is that most of us have only a small piece of it we can call ours.
Up ahead is a turnaround with a locked gate just ahead about 50m. I park the van and get my boots on and basic gear into the daypack. Alice and I have come up for a walk without Miranda. She has been called to a birth. Already we can hear quail calling and a tui.
The first part of the walk is a bit of a haul. I am not warmed up, and the profile indicates some fairly steep stuff to start with.
It is not kidding. There is about a kilometre or more of stiffish uphill gravel road through scrub before we hit the bush and the Long Road Track proper.
I'm not sure of the status of this road. It is marked on the topo sheet, it has obviously once been public road, as primary access to the farm at Simla, and is still used as an ARC and private farm road access, but the public are given a fairly clear message:
There's a short dip
Just along the way a little is a nice puriri in the middle of a mix of manuka, gorse and hangehange. The light is good so I have a play with the telephoto.
At the bottom of the dip the Whatitiri Track heads down towards the Falls Rd Carpark where the Montana Heritage Trail, the Auckland City Walk, the Upper Kauri Track etc depart. As far as I can make out from the ARC brief notes, it's mainly skirting bush areas rather than in amongst them. I may clock it one day for the maths of it, but nothing appeals at present.
The road begins its upwards climb.
Alice is pretty good on recall now, so I leave the lead attached but let her roam in circles around me as I get my heart rate up and try to convince my left knee it is not going to collapse. I must be an optimist. I have left the knee support back in the van. I do have my poles and I am pleased I do.
Presently, I hear a sound I haven't heard in years, and then only once: the unmistakeable sound of a young dog tangling with its first electric fence. One stop learning...
The roadsides are scrubby and not particularly attractive. Gorse, hangehange, bracken and manuka for the most part.
(It's not until I am on my way down I realise just how steep this section of road is, when I get to experience the loose gravel scooting out from under my boots, and once again, I am pleased with the extra stability from my poles.)
I stop to grab a couple of fern shots on the way up. If anybody seeing this can identify the species I'd be grateful. Ferns are a huge mystery to me for the most part, except for the really strange looking ones like mangemange and the filmy ferns.
Here is a closeup of the back of the fern
The road levels off, and a stone seat looks back towards Rangitoto. My knee has stopped complaining and my stride is lengthening.
As a new boy walker, I know very little of the history of the Waitakere ranges, or of conservation activity, and I know just how much difference knowing the stories can make to my appreciation of an area.
If anyone can provide detail about Sylvia that can find its place on this page I would love to hear from you. I have googled Sylvia's name but come up with nothing.