PMH To Bowenvale 31 August 2022

Group Leader Mentor Understudy Tailender
Stds Janne Alan Jan Brw Bev
Alternates Bruce Norma Ali Ray

Stats: distance 15.5km, ascent 420m, time 4hrs 20mins

Chocolates from Wendy who had returned from a trip home were a good starter for this walk on the last day of winter. After a 45-minute drive across the city the bus arrived at PMH, passengers donned packs and set off with those waiting – 34 in total.

Standards maintained a steady pace uphill from behind The Princess Margaret Hospital through a glade of fruit and nut trees, to Lady Polson Lane, and Cracroft Reserve lookout. Within a short time the alternates also arrived to their well-timed 10.00am morning tea stop.  Alternates’ leader Bruce gave a brief history of Cracroft Caverns, secretly constructed during WWII in response to the Japanese threat. Once sealed after the War their existence was largely forgotten, although there was enough rumour for their presence to be re-discovered. The location provided a stable environment for a joint research programme for The University of Canterbury to conduct   ring   laser   experiments.   Prior   to   the   Canterbury   earthquakes, the   caverns   had   been periodically open for visiting, currently there is no access; weblinks as follows:

Our circuitous route took us to Latter’s Spurs track. Outside a Longhurst Terrace address Alternates’ leader set up a chant for club member Brian W to show his face. This was unsuccessful although other residents might possibly have enjoyed the rousing performance. Brilliant blue skies and an occasional breeze helped maintain a pleasant temperature. Among others, the honking of paradise shelducks, warbling of wax eyes, and singing of skylark made for diverse bird life along the tracks.

Rather than following the Standards’ route to the Sign of the Kiwi and around Coronation Hill, the Alternates chose to lunch opposite the Christchurch Adventure Park atop a small knoll on Cedric’s Track. From our vantage point we could observe a slow regeneration since the 2017 Port Hills fires, while a line of smoke lazily drifting in the distance had us calculating the possible location. Standards’ leader Janne observed that she had many mentors to guide her and make suggestions for their lunch stop. The two groups eventually spied each other in the distance as the Standards emerged from Mitchells Track while the Alternates clambered over a rocky outcrop.

As we descended Bowenvale Valley track, we encountered an agitated ewe separated from her twin lambs. Frantic bleating from mum and babies accompanied a brief aborted charge by mum. A few Alternates made a quick advance beyond the trio while good shepherding and a moment of patience was all that was needed for the family to be reunited. There’s nothing quite like unintentionally getting between a mother and her babies to momentarily unsettle passers-by.

Today our walk finished in Bowenvale Avenue, the early completion allowing for refreshments at the Brickworks area. Txt by Marie-Therese