Picton wasn’t on our original itinerary, so we didn’t know too much about it. We had watched the port lecture and decided to look for some of the hiking trails mentioned. We opted not to rush off the ship, but when we were ready to leave at about 10:30, there was still a 45 minute wait for the shuttles. Since we were docked at a functioning timber port, passengers were not allowed to walk through, but were required to take a shuttle bus through the port area and into town. We arrived in Picton, then found the tourist information center to find out about the local hikes.
Our first hike was on the beautiful Tirohanga Track, which led up through forest to the Hilltop View Point. (“Track” is Australian for “path.”) It was a really nice hike, but I was really dragging with my cold. Luckily Elliott’s injured neck and shoulder were feeling well enough to carry the pack for the first time in a while, but he was tired easily too. It was later in the day than our hike the day before, and much hotter! We pushed onward.
There were lots of pretty views on the way up, and the view at the top was gorgeous. There was a bench and we met a sweet couple from Germany who took some photos of us. We hiked down the other side of the mountain, and we were doing great until the very end, where there was a stream. The sign said to cross on the stepping stones, but the water level was so high that all the rocks were under water! There was no choice but to take our shoes off and cross barefoot. Wow, that was some cooooold water! I tried to get across in time to take Elliott’s photo but he was too fast for me, and when he realized how bummed I was, he offered to go back across. Crazy (but sweet) boy. He was so frigid from the first time, and he did it again!!! The photos were great. Once across the river we put our shoes back on and headed into town.
For our second hike, we headed to the beach to Bob’s Bay Track – another shorter hike that had lots of beach views. It starts out on the beach, but when the beach goes away, the track goes up and you hike just above the water. Eventually you come to Bob’s Bay where you can once again get down on a beach and to the water. We found some cool shells there – I loved all the purple shells we were finding, and Elliott found some other nice ones. We didn’t have much time to spend there since we had to be back on board by 3:30 pm, or at least get the last shuttle bus by then.
We hiked back to town and split up so Elliott could stop at the grocery store while I uploaded a blog post at the library. By the time we got to the shuttle bus stop, a local couple said the last shuttle had left! Ack! They offered to drive us to the ship, and we were thrilled. How amazingly kind of them. Elliott was worrying the whole way, but it was only 3:32 when we got in their car, and I was convinced the ship would not leave without us. Still, it was adrenaline-raising! After all the fretting about getting back on board (well, Elliott’s fretting, that is!), the irony is that we didn’t sail anywhere close to the time we were scheduled to sail. There was a problem getting one of the lifeboats back up onto the ship, and the captain announced it would take about a half hour and then we would sail. Ha!! It was many hours. Eventually we headed out of Picton with the lifeboat attached to the ship, but not attached properly. They said we had extra lifeboats, and didn’t need this one anyway!