I’m jumping ahead a little in the trip as my notes from the early part of the second week are still just rough. So I’ll post some about our escape from the cold wet west coast and the delights of hiking and biking in the Cantebury high ground as well as a few other spots. Still lots more to come, stay tuned.
Our plan was to get to Arthur’s Pass and then do some hiking the next day. The weather gods had other ideas and we had the good sense to listen to them. Saturday was bad: cold, wet, windy. The forecast for Sunday was much worse with snow and hail added to the mix so we kept driving toward the elusive sunshine ahead of us. Every time we stopped to admire a view the rain would catch up so we didn’t stop as often as I would have liked. At the end of the day’s drive we arrived in Springfield for a $7 campsite with a hot shower available. We were treated to a beautiful rainbow, the soft bleating of sheep, and bird song until the morning. That’s when the weather caught up to us with strong winds and a chilling bite. We didn’t take it too seriously and kept to our plan to ride the Wharfedale Track. It was an adventure getting there with gale force winds blowing us around on the roads and then some streams to cross (or not as we decided… better to ride a bike through a river than to get a rental camper stuck in one). That’s when Murphy stepped in.
The wind picked up even more, if that was possible. The bright sunny day turned into a sunny rainy day. And the decision not to drive the fords meant an hour long ride uphill into a gale force wind with cold cold rain beating into our faces. On the ride up a few cars passed us, often with encouraging words. By the time we neared the top they were all headed back down having decided they didn’t want to ride the track in these conditions. We were already wet and cold so we soldiered on. I’m glad we did as the track was challenging and exciting. And beautiful. Still, we were cold and wet by the time we got there so it wasn’t long before we headed back. What had taken us an hour to climb was 15 minutes to descend. And that included the 4 gates to open/close and the river crossing that we didn’t want to risk in the camper (it was about a foot deeper on the way back because of the rain so I’d say it was a good call).
Breakfast, a tricky drive, an epic ride, sitting in the camper shivering happy to be getting warm. And it wasn’t yet noon! Inspired by the load of wet cycling clothes we decided to look for a town to do laundry and find a good lunch. Struck out on laundry, we did find a place to stock up on groceries and get some hot coffee and lunch (long blacks and toasties). Then a white-knuckled drive back to Springfield… driving into a gale-force headwind is no fun in a hightop camper. Getting to our campsite and unpacking all the wet stuff was a good feeling though. Cleaning clothes and bikes, setting up camp chairs in the sun, unwinding. YES. Follow that up with dinner, a shower and some relaxing and it’s now time to call it a night.