Monday, March 12, 2012

The Minnehaha Walk

Seems strange that there is a walk with the same name as my elementary school...

To back up earlier in the day...the sun finally came out as evidenced by the helicopters flying. I decided to ride the cycle path up to the carpark for the glacier. It was a pretty cool path through the jungle-like rainforest. It was gravel, but Betsy handled it well. It was about a 45 minute ride to the carpark. When I pulled in, there was a Kea bird walking around. They are a member of the parrot family and bigger than a grey parrot. Apparently, they are quite a nuisance and will tear apart rubber and go after shiny things. They are protected (only found on the South Island) birds and there are signs not to feed them and to shoo them away (but don't throw anything at them). Anyway, I got some photos before it waddled off in search of something rubber or shiny.

I locked up Betsy and walked the path toward the glacier. Since it was clearing up, I didn't have to walk far to see the terminus. I could see groups of people up on the glacier. There is a half-day guided glacier walk (much cheaper than the heli-hike...but not as exciting I'm sure!).

I returned to Betsy and rode back down the trail. On the way back I stopped at the swinging bridge. It is a bridge that goes across the roaring glacial waters of the Fox River. There is a limit of 5 people at a time on the bridge. I was the only one and it was still swinging pretty good. Periodically, I would see chunks of ice go floating by. I can imagine the water was pretty cold.

I rode the rest of the way back to the village. In the village I stopped at a cafe and had a chocolate banana milkshake and a walnut caramel slice. Both were pretty good. Then I decided to ride the 6km out to Matheson Lake. There are supposed to be great reflections of the mountains on the lake. Of course, not when the wind is blowing and roughing up the water, which it was doing. Still, it was a nice walk to the lake.

I rode back to the holiday park. It was about 7:00, so I fixed myself some dinner. Then I took a shower. After my shower I was in the women's restroom and a gal came in. I thought she was maybe biking so I asked her where she was from (I also detected no accent). Her name was Janet and her and her husband Todd were biking north. They are from Chicago (now I can add Illinois to the list of US states I've met people from). Janet and I talked for awhile then when I came out I met Todd. They asked if I wanted to go ride to the Minnehaha Walk and see the glow worms. I had thought I would do it tomorrow night, but said yes. We strapped on our headlamps and rode over to the path (it's at the beginning of the cycle path I was on earlier). We just walked our bikes on the Minnehaha Walk (no bike riding allowed and, besides, it was too dark). We would walk very slowly in the dark looking at the glow worms. Some of the time I could see enough of the trail to know where I was going. Then, the trail would turn and I would have to turn on my light to see where to go. We saw tons of glow worms. I told Todd and Janet what Anne had told us at Waitomo about the glow worms. We could see the strands hanging down (how the glow worms catch food). Some people were just cruising through with flashlights. I'm sure they didn't see nearly as many as we saw going slowly in the dark.

When we got to the end of the Minnehaha Walk, we had the part of the cycle path to ride to get back to the beginning. That,too, was an adventure--riding on the path. We had our lights back on, but they were not that bright.

When we got back to the street where there were street lights it seemed almost like daylight!

It was a blast and I'm really glad I met Janet and Todd and did the walk with them.

It was a great day off where I actually did about 30 km of riding! HA!

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