Saturday’s are my “long run” day although not always in sense of running mileage. In fact often the actual mileage covered is the same (or less) than a midweek run but on Saturday’s I can venture further afield or explore new tracks as I have more time and don’t have to worry about running out of daylight.
Although James had mentioned that he’d join me this week (because when I got home last Saturday I’d exclaimed “I nearly died trying to get down this big arse hill“), he didn’t – even though he was up, which for James on a Saturday is a feat in itself. Let’s just say he’s not a morning person and leave it at that ..
As I was going to be alone (again) and I really didn’t want to spend another day on the edge of a precipice praying to God (not that I don’t enjoy chatting to the big guy – but he’s got people who don’t voluntarily wander into the forest just for fun, to help out) I decided that I’d head down to Bethells Lake and run the Wainamu Loop with a short “out and back” up Houghton’s Track, which is located approximately 1/3rd of the way around the lake.
From Lake Wainamu Track, Houghton Track ascends steeply up spur to the main ridge, then climbs gradually to Wainamu Junction. – 2.1 km, 1 hour (source)
It seemed like a safe option – I’m familiar with the Wainamu Loop and even I can’t get lost on an out and back.
I got to the track just before 8am and there were already a couple of cars parked at the entrance. It had been raining in Auckland over the last week (and it was still early) so the sand was quite nice to run on and at a guess the people in the cars had gone via the lake as the intact cobwebs told me that I was the first to run the Loop from the dune entrance that morning.
The Houghton Track is easy to find as it’s located at the BIGGEST muddiest junction on the Loop Track, which Mr Garmin tells me is 2.3 km from the carpark (via the dunes)
Firstly the ARC is correct – it’s steep, some sections I’d even go so far to say are very steep but perhaps what is more important is the fact that it’s steep and extremely slick underfoot, so much so that I knew that I wouldn’t be able to return the way I’d came (unless I was sliding down on my arse, which I did actually contemplate – but knowing my luck a group of Japanese tourists would decide to ascend at that very time and I’d take them all out).
One positive is that I knew that Houghton linked up to the Smyth Ridge Track so I’d be able to continue along it right up to the Long Road track in the Cascade Kauri Regional Park and perhaps more importantly I’d have cell coverage when I got to the Long Road track and I could call James to pick me up and take me back to my car (and yes he said he didn’t come with me that morning so he’d be able to come and rescue me – apparently he’s physic these days) …
Oh and on another note – you know how I said earlier “even I can’t get lost on an out and back?” well although I didn’t actually get lost, for awhile there when the Houghton Track turns left into the forest, I thought I was – there is no clear route and the little orange markers are few and far between you can’t imagine how happy seeing one of these little things makes you.
In the end I did kind of get lost – James is familiar with the Falls Road carpark so I had planned to finish there, however I turned left on the Long Road track where I should have turned right (even after staring at one of those “you are here” maps for at least five minutes) so I had to divert him to Long Road (proper), which in the end is kind of a good thing as it’s on the way to Bethells anyway.
Not all those who wander are lost BUT some think they are when they aren’t and others are when they don’t realise they are lololol – I must look into whether you can get some kind of map that doesn’t require cell coverage with a little blinking red dot (me) – surely these things exist ..
Till next time