Cascades Walk, Pt. 2

You may recall that last time, Taylor and I were slightly foiled at the Waitakere Dam by a dodgy cliff face.

We had walked up the Cascade Track to the Fence Line track, over the dam, and intended to go down the Tramline Walk to the Anderson Tack and then back to the carpark. We weren’t sure how much of a detour we would have to take, though. Worst case, we might have to take the Waitakere Dam Walk all the way to Scenic Drive and then hike north and join the Anderson Track where it hits the road.

Since we were being turned back from our prize, we decided to console ourselves with a bit of exploring. We took the bridge over the outflow stream…

…and followed this grotty old path back up to the dam. This wound up popping us out about 100 meters before the dam on the track we’d come in on originally, but it was a fine bit of exploring which restored our spirits immensely.

Restoring our spirits even more, however, was discovering that less than 200 meters after the end of the dam was a stairway leading to the other side of the closed tramway! Yes, it’s only a small stretch of the Tramline Track that’s fenced off, so we could continue with our original plan. Huzzah!

Something that possibly only I appreciated was the quality stairs we got to descend, seen here.

We were both well pleased with this turn of events, and even more so when we saw how cool the Tramline Track was!

The tramway runs along what is basically a cliff, so the look out to our left was superb.

Running along the ground to the right is a quite substantial pipeline. I am not sure whether or not this particular pipe is still used, but further along there are signs of fairly recent repair and retrofitting of more modern equipment.

(This photo, in a rare concession to the art of photography, was taken at about knee height. The railing to the left is not so massive as to be head-height on me!)

After a bit of tramping (pun retroactively intended), the tramway swings around enough that the dam itself is visible at a distance. And…hm, what’s that peeking out underneath? Why, it’s a waterfall!

[When I wrote the original draft of this post, I wrote “after a bit of tramping (p.i.)”, apparently deciding that p.i. was shorthand everyone would understand to mean “pun intended”. A month later, future me, which is now current me but for you will be past me, had to spend nearly a minute trying to figure out what p.i. could possibly mean. You know you’ve failed badly at communication when you not only confuse your readers but confuse yourself.]

The vegetation made it difficult to get a particularly great shot of the falls, not that this stopped Taylor from leaping over the guardrail and trying for a shot anyway.

While he did that, I photographed a tui I found in a nearby tree. These are also called parsonbirds because of the tuft under their beaks. Not to be confused with Tui the dog!

We marched on until the dam was barely visible.

At which point, we encountered this thing! An interesting solution to keep a waterfall from eroding the tram lines, certainly!

I enjoy traveling with Taylor for many reasons, one of them being that as a great photographer he sees shots I don’t. I’m sure he’s the one who thought of this shot, and it wouldn’t surprise me to find that he got a long exposure of the water falling that looked super cool.

We left our little man-made waterfall behind, but it was definitely a neat bit of engineering.

Moving on, we got through the trees our best look yet at the falls below the dam!

Taylor, as expected, immediately decided that climbing a tree growing out of the edge of the cliff was the ideal solution. Not that Taylor has ever needed a reason to climb a tree.

I’m sure he got some great shots, though. These falls are amazing.

I’ve no idea how far down they go, but here’s what’s visible from this vantage point. Think about how high up the dam was, and then look at how many dam-heights the waterfall goes down. That is just mindblowing.

As we continued on, it became obvious that there would be no more views of the falls. The foliage was getting much thicker.

And then, a tunnel!

Duly noted.

Though I’m tempted to pretend like the tunnel went on for hundreds of meters, actually it’s pretty short.

Taylor and I had some good-natured debate about how long ago the tram still ran along these tracks based on our estimated age of the signs. We never did end up figuring it out, though based on another sign we saw we knew it had to be running at least through the 1990s.

After passing through the tunnel we completely left the cliff behind and were tramping through forest. Here we find an intersection of both trail and track.

Moving down the tracks, we found another tunnel, this one barred and locked. Ah, well, maybe an adventure for another time (or, more likely, not at all).

Once we hit Anderson Track, the trail conditions got much poorer. As you can see, the forest encroaches on the muddy dirt track in a way it didn’t on the tramline.

There is also the occasional morass, which we navigated with care.

Before reaching the carpark, the Anderson Track left us with the parting gift of a rocky ford. My favorite!

And that, as they say, is that. I’m grateful to Taylor for accompanying me (and in many ways guiding me, since he’d done about a third of that walk before) on this adventure! It was a great walk, and it deserves the fame it has received among the Auckland outdoor enthusiasts.

Join me next time as I head up North for some solo exploring! See you then!

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