Uphill wanderers

There's nothing I like better than an uphill challenge,except, of course, if it's pointless. I am so exhausted that I can hardly write this. Nine hours of riding in rough terrain through rainforests and along rivers and up mountains all in gravel ain't my idea of fun. I knew the day would be difficult when I couldn't buy an espresso. The cafes in Kumara don't open until after nine. I thought I would get one in Cowboy's Paradise, but we by-passed it by 100 meters, took a wrong turn and ended up having cheese and bikkies on a rock, rather than going back up 700 meters. So we then did a 10km round trip up a bloody mountain and back down again to arrive at the saloon. It was only a 90 minute break in our schedule (that's how steep it was). 

Cowboy's Paradise doesn't live up to its name, except for the views down the valley and out across the river. A Chinese girl who had been in the country one week was alone in Paradise. When we asked for ice creams (no coffee machine in sight), she served us up a bowl of ice cream with two spoons. She wanted us to stay, but we had to press on, as it was another 36kms to Hokitika and we needed to get there before dark. After another steep climb we managed to reach a bitumen road and thought we were in heaven. That lasted about 2 kms , when we had to turn off into the rainforest again to complete a nightmare ride on a track about 8 inches wide, with fast running water on one side and a 100 meter drop on the other. 

Eventually we came back out on the bitumen road, probably 20 meters and 30 minutes from where we left it. We did make it to our motel on the seafront before nightfall, but we're too frazzled to go look at the sunset. Did I mention the sun? The weather has been absolutely perfect. Ray is taking the credit for that. I'm also giving him the credit for our detour. At least he is the packhorse and slave. Tomorrow is only a 70 km day (we did over 80 km today) and hopefully we will be on the road for most of it. What could go wrong?


Not long after leaving Kumara we came across this pipe with a huge amount of water coming out of it. That is what you can see at the bottom of the pipe. We knew it was not a HWS overflow pipe. It was somewhat of a mystery. Until...


Just up a bit and around the corner, we came up this lake. Judging by the signs and other paraphernalia we saw nearby (not in shot here), it is part of a small hydro-electic power station. We did not see the power station itself anywhere, but would have been nearby. Further up the trail, there was quite a bit of small scale infrastructure for power stations including incredibly clean, clear water running down small culverts (about 2m wide). On the other side of the range, all of the power projects are massive including 10 mtr wide canals taking water from one dam to another, with huge dams and power genrating capacity. (see some of our previous blogs from about a year ago about our Alps to Ocean trip). But that is the story of the West coast and its comparison to the East. Its all a bit wilder and less populated.P_20180919_085515

A map of the "West Coast Wilderness Trail". We did indeed see a lot of wilderness. I did not think of it at the time, but it is quite possible ththe relatively recent movie about the "Wilder People" was filmed out here.


The man says he is taking this bike and riding up there. It is not easy to tell in this shot, but that is a real hill. A little bit further up and round the corner we could not get up the hill as the track was too steep and rough. On a bitumen road we would have made it, but on a wet and rock strewn trail we just could not get any grip.


Something of a clearing we we got a bit of sun. There were long stretches of trail where the canopy was so thick, you only got the odd ray shing through. A little bit like you life in knowing me.


Going down switchback trails is not Brenda's favourite thing to do. As it turns out we had to go down this one twice. If you think Brenda does not look all that happy on this occasion, she was a lot less happy the second time around, especially after having to go up a huge rock strewn hill about 4 klms long with gradients as steep as about 16-17%. We pushed the bikes for about 2/3s the distance and was able to ride the other 1/3.


On another of the aforementioned switchbacks, Brenda was hoping that I had been catapulted over the edge, on to the rocks 100 metres below. No such luck.


Welcme to the Cowboy Paradise saloon. I tied up my horse, clopped up the steps and kicked open the door with my boots. I scanned the room and looked deep inyto the eye of every no good low down varment in the joint. I stayed cool until my eyes came across this...


WHAT!!! No F#**&%$g Wi Fi. Pretend it's 1895 more like it. No coffee, no food, no nuttin...


Well I took my sweetheart by the hand and walked straight through out back..


... And saw this. We cycled all along the river which you might be able to make out at the bottom of the mountain in the distance.


But not before we went through this. Its been a while since i have bushwalked in the Springbrook area, but the trails here reminded of the bushwalks we used to do there, way back in time.


A closer shot of the river and mountains and the unseen road


More small scale hydro on the way into Hokitika. Just about there, finally!


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