New Zealand post 12:
A REAL DAMPENER, FOLLOWED BY A DAZZLER
I have been snoozing for 12 hours straight. It was raining when I went to sleep and it’s raining when I wake up. So much for escaping the weather…
What to do now? We check the forecast & it’s 100% raining all day. Tomorrow: not-so-much. We decide to hunker down once more, except this time we’re not camped in a store room, but in a comfy motel suite with heaters and there’s a bottle store over the road- excellent! Last night at dinner, I restricted myself to just one glass, ‘cos at R150 a pop for a mingy serving, it’s hard to swallow, but now I’ve got a whole bottle for R180, so maybe the afternoon doesn’t look so bleak after all. Steve’s got his coffee and I’ve got my wine – so easy to please ☕ 🍷😎!
Before I get stuck in though, there’s a lull in the downpour, so we decide to venture out and explore the bustling metropolis of Arthur’s Pass Village. It’s a one-street town and there’s not much to see, but we pick our way from stone-to-stone across the river and follow the signs for the waterfall hike. We are well aware that it’s likely to start raining again at any moment, but it’s lovely to be out & about, so we keep going. Indeed, it’s beautiful and indeed, we get thoroughly soaked, but what the hell. We’ve got the heater and the wine to come back to and I finally get to make good use of my trail running shoes. I’ve been wondering why I dragged them along.
It’s a loooong day. We wash clothes that probably don’t really need it, map possible routes for our onward journey, watch comedy shows on the phone and cook up a sparse dinner of tuna and tomato stew on mash. (At R350 last night for a very mediocre pizza at The Wobbly Kia, the only local eatery, we decide to give it a miss tonight). I soak oats and raisins for the morning ( not making the mistake of setting off without a proper breakfast again!), then set the alarm for 05h30 and we are asleep by 21h30.
We awaken to a Winter wonderland in the middle of Summer! While I thought the silence meant it wasn’t raining, nature was quietly laying down a blanket of white overnight. The mountains are covered in snow and it’s beautiful & FREEZING! We down our coffee & oats, pack sandwiches for the road, don every bit of clothing we have and set off into the early morning mist. The wind chill factor heading downhill is frightening! I have on 3 pairs of gloves, but still my fingers are frozen! When we get to the first hill, I pump the pistons with all my might to fire up the internal combustion engine and sure enough, slowly, slowly, the warm blood starts penetrating the icy chill, even eventually reaching my extremities, which is unheard of for me! I can feel the cold, but I’m cozy, if that makes sense? It’s a great, fresh, feeling to be out in the early morning chill, creating your own warmth!
As the sun climbs higher, the layers become stifling and we pull over to strip off. It’s quite a rigmarole with shoe covers, rain pants, puffadders, rain jackets, wind cheaters, arm warmers, leg warmers, gloves, caps & buffs!!
Over the next 50km we keep stopping to add or strip, add or strip, depending on the gradient – just can’t seem to get the balance right…
We were warned last night (after the one small shop was closed!), that there’s nothing by way of replenishment on the route today. We have our sandwiches though and 2 big slabs of chocolate. Steve still eyes every possible building in the hopes of scoring a coffee, but alas, he has to make do with our simple rations.
Suffice it to say that after about 60km he is not happy and I am the recipient of his ‘hangryness’, which somewhat dampens the lively spirit with which I set out this morning. Seems I can ride forever on oats, chocolate and a sandwich and feel thoroughly confident with a large kit kat and a bag of instant mash in my saddle bag, but Steve needs to know that the larder is fully stocked, or he grinds to a halt 😂
Anyhow, he makes up for it when we reach Springfield at 86km and he orders the biggest burger and wedges! That’s when I get a sheepish text apologizing for his grumpiness…and later a cup of tea delivered to my chair, unasked- for in the motel room, plus a yummy-looking bar placed in my helmet for tomorrow ❤