Monday, February 8, 2010

Sumner's Capt Thomas Track & Scarborough Bluffs Track

2010. Our 1995 Denman Street, Sumner Rental House, Christchurch

One hot Waitangi Day afternoon, I parked my car at Denman Street, Sumner, as I wanted to walk up Sumner Valley on Capt Thomas Track, cross Evans Pass at Rapanui Bush, and return down-valley on Scarborough Bluffs Track.

Years before when we'd first arrived in Christchurch, we'd rented a two-bedroom cottage in Denman Street. Looking up Denman Street, I coolpixed Richmond Hill bluffs beyond Wakefield Avenue.

2010. Denman St, Sumner view of Richmond Hill, Christchurch

2010. Wakefield Ave, Sumner start of Capt Thomas Track, Christchurch

2010. Van Asch Deaf School Sign, Wakefield Ave, Sumner, Christchurch

2010. Christchurch Bus, by Van Asch Deaf School, Wakefield Ave

Due to MTB shared-use, I didn't want to join Capt Thomas Track in Sumner, so I walked along a path beside Wakefield Avenue, through native bush plantings below bluffs, past Van Asch Deaf School (began 1880), then turned right into Sumnervale Drive off Evans Pass Road.

Along Sumnervale Drive, I had grand views of Scarborough Bluffs on my left, Evans Pass going up to Summit Road, Jollies Bush and Mt Pleasant ahead, and Richmond Hill bluffs on my right. February hills were covered in dry, brown grass.

2010. Corner Sumnervale Dr & Evans Pass bottom, Sumner

2010. Sumnervale Dr, Sumner view of Gully below Capt Thomas Track

2010. Sumner Valley Riding School. Evans Pass left, Capt Thomas Track right

2010. Sumner Valley Riding School view of Sumner & Scarborough

Sumnervale Drive end, I coolpixed girls riding ponies in Sumner Valley Riding School. A smiley mother shovelled horse dung into a barrow and wheeled it away. I crossed a stile, walked across the Riding School paddock, crossed another stile, and zigzagged up a steep path through native bush plantings going up to Capt Thomas Track. By a macrocarpa, two small boys sweated past.

2010. Track joining Capt Thomas Track above Sumner Valley Riding School

2010. Capt Thomas Track view of Sumner & Scarborough Bluffs

The steep path joined dusty Capt Thomas Track, where I coolpixed a distant paraglider over Scarborough, and Evans Pass below Scarborough Reserve. I coolpixed views from a wooden footbridge below Richmond Hill bluffs, near a left path sign: SCARBOROUGH BLUFFS.

2010. Capt Tomas Track view of Sumner & Scarborough

Two sweaty girls jogged past while I enjoyed cooling breezes coming up Sumner Valley. Leaving the bush, along a dry, grassy slope, Capt Thomas Track curved towards Evans Pass. I walked through a small gate with sunny views of Sumner Valley and the Pacific on my left, Scarborough Bluffs across Sumner Valley, and Richmond Hill behind.

2010. Capt Thomas Track view of Richmond Hill

2010. Capt Thomas Track view of Sumner, Scarborough & Pacific

2010. Capt Thomas Track view of Evans Pass & Rapanui Bush

By pines, I walked round a bend with views of Sumner Valley head ahead, Richmond Hill on my right, and across the valley, Evans Pass, with Godley Head Road near the top of Scarborough.

Two skinny couples sweated past, with two panting dogs, one leashed with a blue poop-bag tied to the leash. A plump woman carried her panting pooch up the dusty track, where MTBs had ground the track to powder.

2010. Capt Thomas Track view of Evans Pass, Sumner, Scarborough & Pacific

2010. Steep section of Capt Thomas Track. Scarborough Reserve & Evans Pass backdrop

I passed three MTB signs, one warning MTBs: GIVE WAY TO WALKERS! The other signs stated:


2010. Walkers, Capt Thomas Track above Evans Pass, Sumner, Scarborough & Pacific

At steep, sharp bends, if MTBs went off track, they had a long drop to Sumner Valley bottom. I passed the dog-walkers again, while they waited for a dog running down a steep, grassy slope. Meanwhile track entry-signs stated:


2010 Capt Thomas Track view of Evans Pass, Sumner & Pacific

Near the top of Evans Pass, I crossed a stile, entered a small bit of Rapanui Bush, crossed Evans Pass, then entered a bigger bit of Rapanui Bush on Scarborough side of Evans Pass. It took me 1 hour 30 minutes to complete Capt Thomas Track.

2010. Capt Thomas Track Sign near Evans Pass top

Below Godley Head Road, SCARBOROUGH BLUFFS TRACK was slightly higher than Capt Thomas Track across Sumner Valley. Two fat women crossed a stile, waddled out of Rapanui Bush, and wandered down Evans Pass. Another dog-walking couple wandered out too.

I passed a RAPANUI BUSH sign and a NO BIKES sign at the start of Rapanui Bush, then turned left at a SCARBOROUGH BLUFFS TRACK sign which also stated: TO SUMNERVALE & TAYORS MISTAKE

2010. Scarborough Bluffs Track view of Evans Pass, Sumner & Pacific

2010. Scarborough Bluffs Track Fork, Rapanui Bush

In Rapanui Bush I enjoyed cool breezes coming up Evans Pass. I quaffed CocaCola while seated on a bench with wooden words:


2010. Bench, Rapanui Bush

2010. Rapanui Bush view of Capt Thomas Track, Richmond Hill

Through a gap in Rapanui Bush I watched MTBs across Sumner Valley racing down Capt Thomas Track, while three late afternoon walkers slogged upwards. Looking down Sumner Valley I had glimpses of Sumner and the Pacific.

2010. Rapanui Bush Stile view of Sumner & Pacific

Leaving Rapanui Bush, by young kanukas I crossed a stile, and in the distance on a brown, grassy slope I saw the plump woman still carrying her pooch. I passed another bench with wooden words:


2010. Rapanui Bush view of Evans Pass & Summit Rd below Mt Pleasant, Port Hills

2010. Scarborough Bluffs Track view of Evans Pass, Sumner Valley & Pacific

Scarborough Bluffs Track crossed dry, north-facing grassland and masses of red-flowering cotyledons, Cotyledon orbiculata. Below basalt bluffs, two pretty girls, who'd walked from Taylors Mistake, asked me directions. My options: Rapanui Bush; Evans Pass; Godley Head Road; Summit Road; Lyttelton; Mt Pleasant; Richmond Hill; Capt Thomas Track...

2010. Cotyledons, Cotyledon orbiculata, Scarborough Bluffs Track, Scarborough Reserve

2010. Cotyledons, Scarborough Bluffs Track, Scarborough Reserve

2010. Scarborough Bluffs Track view of Evans Pass & Rapanui Bush

2010. Scarborough Bluffs Track view of Sumner & Pegasus Bay

2010. Cotyledons, Sign & Bluff, Scarborough Bluffs Track

At a track fork a sign stated: TO TAYLORS MISTAKE 2.5 ks. While I coolpixed cotyledons on Scarborough Bluffs, a panting black labrador arrived, and sat in my shadow. The labrador's blonde owner silently arrived, and silently took the high track to Taylors Mistake with her panting labrador.

2010. Cotyledons, Bench & Bluffs, Scarborough Bluffs Track

I zigzagged down to Evans Pass again near Sumner houses. Halfway down, I sat on another bench with wooden words: SCARBOROUGH BLUFFS TRACK

2010. Scarborough Reserve Sign & Bluffs above Evans Pass

By Evans Pass I passed another SCARBOROUGH RESERVE sign, crossed a stile, and across the road by another stile another sign stated:


2010. Scarborough Bluffs Track, Evans Pass

By Sumner housing at the bottom of Evans Pass, I watched a seagull pecking a roadkill possum. When a SUV drove by, the gull flew away.

2010. Evans Pass, Sumner

2010. Bottom of Evans Pass, Sumner

While walking Wakefield Avenue again, I watched two blokes rock-climbing a Richmond Hill bluff towards a lone pine. I took 1 hour 30 minutes to dawdle down Scarborough Bluffs Track from Rapanui Bush to Denman Street.

Coda: Post 22.02.11 & 13.06.11 earthquakes, Capt Thomas Track & Evans Pass were closed due to rockfall hazards. Sumner was extensively quake damaged, especially rockfalls from Richmond Hill & Scarborough Bluffs. For months post quakes, shipping containers cordoned Wakefield Ave below Richmond Hill & Heberden Ave below Scarborough Bluffs.

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

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