New Zealand post 11:
RECALCULATING – HEAD EAST TO ESCAPE WEATHER AND LANDSLIDES
The weather report says 100% chance of heavy rain at 12h00 on Arthur’s Pass. We decide to head out early in order to maximize the dry hours. In the interest of speed, we decide to forgo our usual oats and instead just have a muffin and a banana and are on the road by 07h00.
It’s freezing as we ride downhill through the morning mist, but I’m loving being out early and watching the day come to Life. A few weak ray’s are straining to push through the clouds. Our semi-damp washing is dangling from the panniers and even the clothes on our backs are not quite dry. Come on sun! Come on sun! Come on sun!
By 09h30 Steve is regretting the decision to skip oats. He’s grumbling about being forced to head out without a proper breakfast. He’s conveniently forgotten that I consulted him and he agreed. “Here we are setting off to do a huge climb without any food again”, he says accusingly. “We’ve got plenty of food – a whole packet of Oreos, 3 huge slabs of chocolate and some cheese. What more do you want?”, ” That’s not food!”. ” Calories are calories. It’ll do the job as well as oats or bacon and eggs”
He’s not convinced and pulls in hopefully when we pass a couple of possible coffee shops, but both are closed. “Grumble, grumble, mumble, mumble…” Then I remember a bottle of iced coffee that’s tucked in my panniers. I pull over and retrieve it along with the Oreos. As Steve pulls up, I hold it up triumphantly, Ta da! It’s a winner and he’s in slightly better spirits after we wolf down the cookies, washed down with the delicious iced coffee.
It’s 12h30 when we finally reach a spot for lunch at a quirky hotel at the base of Arthur’s Pass. Still no rain, but the clouds are gathering thick and fast. Better not dilly dally too long over the much-anticipated lunch. Actually, it’s totally forgettable and doesn’t warrant any lingering, so we are tackling the pass by 13h15.
I know that if I go ahead, I’ll have a very long wait at the top, so I decide to try and stay with Steve all the way. I sit on his back wheel, determined to be perfectly equanimous. It works ok as long as he keeps moving. Problem is he keeps stopping to walk and when he stops, he stops dead in his tracks without warning, which, given the balancing act I am performing, is positively treacherous!
After about 5km, with the rain finally coming down, I think better of my silly plan and ride my own pace to the top, where I hunker down behind the summit sign to escape the wind and driving rain.
He makes it up in his own sweet time and we fly down the other side in the freezing rain – a long and very cold descent into Arthur’s Pass Village, where we find a motel and waste no time getting under a hot shower. So much for camping! We’ve only pitched our tent twice thus far and are carrying waaaaay too much gear – all prepared to camp wild and cook in the great outdoors! We should’ve unloaded our excess kit with Steve and Dahlene when we had the chance, but Murphy’s law, the day we dump it, we’ll be stranded and regret it.
Google now tells us it’s pissing tomorrow as well! Eish, I thought we were heading East to escape the weather, but it seems there’s nowhere to hide. It’s not for nothing that New Zealand is so damn green!!