The first time I saw the Te Mata track carved into the hillside late last year I thought what the heck is that.
Then the controversy over it exploded.
It wasn't done in a secretive manner. In fact I'm sure that Craggy Range had nothing but goodness at its heart.
Hindsight is a fine thing but it's done now.
Read more: Havelock North's Te Mata track to remain? Mediation back on the table for controversial track
Watch Video: Craggy Range report on Te Mata track disappoints Mana whenua
Havelock North's Te Mata track to remain? Mediation back on the table for controversial track
I've been wanting to walk the track for ages so, on Sunday, when we drove past and noticed all the cars I decided that the next day would be the day — as long as it was fine.
It was — I couldn't have asked for a nicer day. I parked about 8.30am, plugged myself into some music and set off.
There was only one other person descending as I was ascending. The track starts out wide and, as I'm sure most of you know by now from either looking at it or walking it, zigzags its way up the hillside.
I started out at a fast pace and stopped every now and again to admire the view and what views they are — absolutely spectacular.
After about 10 minutes of quite a good pace I felt myself slowing down considerably and stopping to admire the view far more often.
About three-quarters of the way up the path turns from shingle to dirt, gets a lot steeper and narrower. By now I was puffing rather a lot.
I paused (to admire the view again) and looked down. Suddenly I was dizzy and my hands started shaking.
Mr Neat's words echoed in my ears "are you sure you should be going up there alone".
There was not a soul on sight and I was way up on a hill side — alone. That little voice in my head went crazy. What if I fell, what if I twisted my ankle, what if I just froze and couldn't move?
Okay, I thought, maybe you should turn around now and go back.
I hesitated — looked up and saw that I was so close. I gave myself a good talking to and remembered a book I'd read years ago — Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.
You got this, I kept telling myself. You are nearly there. I'll do one more 'zig' and see how I feel and I will not under any circumstances look down. I put my hand on the bank to steady myself — right on top of a prickle.
So up I went and stopped at the next turn. The path in front of me was even narrower, I turned to descend, hesitated yet again. I was almost there.
I knew I would regret not going all the way to the top if i gave up. My hands were still a bit shaky but now I was determined to get there.
So I put my head down, and went up another zag. Paused looked up — oh my goodness it was steep.
Again I turned to go down and again I stopped and looked up. I was so close.
Right don't stop again until you get to the top.
So off I went and less than five minutes later I was at the top with a huge grin on my face. The views worth every scary step.
Then this little voice stated up in my head again. "Climbing up was the easy part — gravity is going to want you to go fast down hill."
So with tiny steps and a sort of a shuffle, I slowly made my way down. At one point I actually sat down and shuffled down around a steep bend on my behind.
Once I was down to the gravel path I was feeling on fire. I did it. There was not a soul around so I was singing away to my music. I felt good.
Every one has an opinion on this track. Yes it did look stark and harsh when it was first cut but so does anything new on the land — new gardens, parks, reserves — until they are established and the entire look of it softens.
This has already happened on the hillside.
Yes the entire process might have been handled better but I love the latest plans of native plantings.
In fact this is a chance to showcase the history of Te Mata Peak. Other historical spot have plaques or information boards — why not here. It's done — let's' make the most of this beautiful spot.
*Linda Hall is assistant editor of Hawke's Bay Today.