Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Patuna Chasm

When I first came to Wellington, Chris told me about an amazing hike at Patuna Chasm. He told me that since half the hike is in water, we would need to wait until the weather warmed up so that we wouldn't be frozen the whole way. During my last week in Wellington, Chris, Owen, and I made the trip out. A French couple also was there, so the five of us did the hike. Adele and Martin were quite sweet. When I lost my sunglasses, Martin ran back to look for them with me. We were lucky that they weren't too far down the trail.

The first half of the hike is through farm land and near some amazing rock formations. This bit is optional, and I considered walking around because of the bees. That's right. The hole right above Chris' head contains a whole swarm, honeycomb and all. Owen made fun of me for not having a sense of adventure (but not a sense of self preservation) so I went ahead and walked this bit as well.

We walked along narrow trails, including some bits that had rope attached so you could pull yourself up difficult portions, until we reached the ladder that lead into the chasm. Not pictured is the really slick mud that was along the narrow trail.

We first walked upstream to a waterfall. Martin and Adele went back down while Owen, Chris, and I had lunch. We agreed to meet up at a spot downstream. Bits of the stream were pretty deep and I walked tip toe at parts in a desperate bit to keep my underwear dry.

We scrambled around, eventually reaching this large rock that had split. The only way through was so narrow that I climbed up the rock to see if we could get down another way. We couldn't, but as I came down I slipped, fell hard on my side and arm, and proceeded to slide another meter or so. I was ok, but it took me a minute to feel it. We all eventually shimmied through the narrow rock opening. Because Owen and Chris are such gentlemen, every time we got to a slick portion of the trail where they thought I might fall, they whipped their cameras out waiting for the perfect moment. That moment came (the one time they didn't pull out their cameras) and I fell on the same side again. It was a slower fall, so I laughed. But I fell into the river, so my underwear got wet despite my best efforts.

We continued downriver, admiring the limestone formations and overhanging trees. I felt like I was in The Jungle Book. Part of the hike was through a cave. I had heard that there might be eels around, so I was a little nervous. Of course Owen asked me to stay standing in the dark water for a bit while he took pictures. There were some neat pictures to be had because despite there being a cave, there was just enough light from the other end. 
Chris entering the cave

I knew that eels liked the dark, but near the end of the hike, we found two eels who were swimming around in daylight. One of them was quite curious and came right up to us. I didn't like how he looked at my shoes, so I continued on to find a dry patch to stand on. Chris put his hiking stick near the eel and the eel obliged him by biting the stick! I was less inclined to go into deeper water after that.

We met back up with Martin and Adele and walked through the pasture to get back to the car. It was a vigorous hike, but one of the best I had ever done. 


Alicia said...

That's one crazy hike! I think it can be classified as a 'trek' or a 'journey', not just a plain ol' hike.

Olaf van der Vis said...

Did this hike last January, absolutely loved it! Didn't take any photos that's why i googled and got here. Nice description and beautiful photos!

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