The Shortest Walks Around – Lake Roundabout & The Kettle Hole

“On a Mish” #333 The Shortest Walks Around. Lake Round-a-bout & Lake Heron Kettle Hole Track. Hakatere Conservation Park. 15.6.2022. Going from swift strides to sitting stationary can be pretty shitty. And having to do it twice within two years has been a tough pill to swallow. But when faced with no other option, I have had to find a cup of water and force that pill down. Strangely, my initial hip injury has prepared me for round two, so this round I am more confident and I won’t let myself get too bent out of shape. For those out there that haven’t had to deal with a hernia, firstly lucky you!

Secondly, sometimes the pain is at a point when it even hurts when taking in deep breaths. This means I can’t really do much without aggravating the nasty little bastard in my stomach, however personally giving up has never been an option for me. The instructions from the doctor and physio were to do a little as possible and if exercising / walking, do it in little bursts. This meant looking for the shortest walks possibly in the area. Luckily Hakatere Conservation Park has walks for every level of fitness / brokenness, so I found the two shortest walks in the entire 60,000 hectare adventure playground. First was a quick drive from Lake Clearwater Village to Lake Round-a-bout. I had been to the much larger Lake Emma a couple of times and had never stopped at the gate at the start of the gruelling 200m walk. Like all of the walks in the area, the surroundings make every step special. To the south of the lake stood the massive snow-covered mounds of Mahaanui / Mt Harper(1829m), a mountain very important to the navigation of the area by early Maori. To make the mish a bit more interesting I pushed on 20 more metres to the west end of the lake, and this gave me great views east of both Lake Round-a-bout and Lake Emma. After trekking the mammoth distance back to the car I carried on towards Lake Heron for my second outing.

The next walk, the Lake Heron Kettle Hole Track was tougher as it was a huge 350 metres. I readied myself for the extra 150m before stepping out of the car into the crisp wind that was blowing across the large lake. As I began to walk I noticed how much of the snow had been torn off the mountains, especially on the exposed ridges. It was incredible to think that only two days ago the entire area was covered in a layer of white gold and now the golden tussock of the Canterbury highlands. I discovered that uphill was less stress on my hip and hernia, so I enjoyed the hike up to the lip of the Kettle Hole (a large hole in the land created by glaciation). The small climb up the track led me to views of Lake Heron and the cold grey and white of the mountains in the Taylor Range. The cold wind kept me moving to stay warm and moving caused pain in my hip and stomach, a rather odd situation to be in. Eventually I limped my way back down to my car and from here it was back to the crib in Clearwater village to rest. The short walks filled in the day very well and it was great to finally do them after more than a decade of visiting the area. Sore but satisfied after my short and sweet missions, much better than grounded and grumpy due to doing nothing! Even if it is only a tiny dose, a wander in the wild is the best antidepressant around and it is keeping me sane during these testing times…

The Taylor Range from the Kettle Hole Track

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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