Saturday, January 15, 2011

Aorere Goldfields, 28th Jan

Friday 28th Jan. Aorere Goldfields. After my past experience on this trail, i expected a hell of a lot worse. Steve et al’s description of the 4wd track down made me wonder whether i was making the right decision to climb on it, but i figured i needed to see what it was all about and give it a go. Instead of parking at the Devil’s Boots i continued over the bridge and along that road (if you could call it that – meet someone else along here, and be prepared to reverse for a fair way, or hope they do the same), also observing that it had been the riverbed during the recent floods – massive piles of tree trunks and debris piling up the sides of the road.

Parked-up at the shearing sheds/yards, even tho the car would have happily made it to the next place to park (where there was another Subie). Rode up to here instead for the warm-up. Hung a right onto the 4WD track it starts off dropping to a creek, easily crossed without emersing hubs, then straight into the climb, pretty steep pretty much straight away, zig and zag to the first gate that i opened and shut for a ‘Mud Slut’ Surf, receiving a “Thanks, Maaate” in return.

Steepy steepy bodybaggish but not-so-bad, up, up, up through all that scrubby short and tall manuka, lots of sunshine beating down, heat, and the constant deafening soundtrack of cicadas (i reckon needing a warning if they were a chainsaw, 80-odd decibels at least). I think, one downhill section, and i could see a steep looking trail off in the distance to the left. not long later there was a left hander that i decided to skip, for some reason figuring there’d be a left further up i could take.

The trail took me into another steep climb, all rideable, up over more scrubbiness, peaking out, and from my reading of the landscape i could just tell that Druggans Dam was further to the left. I glanced at spectacular views and hit the wideopen smooth-as downhill, taking a left-hand option at the bottom that led me to a far more wicked downhill section, washed-out scrubfilled ruts and drainage-crossings requiring the popping of nice air or perfectly timed bunnyhops. Flying down, tho with the caution of not crashing whilst on my own.

Made a short vid at the dodgy campsite (bbq inclusive)that had even more deafening cicadas, and followed the signpost uptrail. Obviously hardly ever used, tho some tire tracks in evidence, lots of gorse overgrowing leaving track marks on my arms. After much climbing, albeit barely ten minutes, i met the previous trail i’d decided against earlier, and made a right, commencing on more climbing. Steep here, i think getting off and walking even, but eventually finding myself on the receiving end of tracks i’d seen before (last time, in fog and drizzle and a group parting ways with Pete, Nelson and me going the way i was about to go, and the others heading down the way i’d just come up).

Glorious wee descent down to Druggans – railing bermy corners and skipping over any roughness – no nasty grinding paste this time, dry as a bone. Got to the dam and headed along it, riding and then walking all the way to where the sounds of water gushing eminates through the regen below the outlet. Turned back and off down again, this time over the waterrace tunnel and the steep descent that bailed me up last time. Cleaned it this time and had a good look at the tunnel – scary! On now round the waterrace, water leaving it and it weaving in and out of the landscape on its wending way round to the caves.

Ballroom Cave first,

alas, forgot my headtorch so was a shallow cellphone lit explore. Fun we descent down to it, and not such a bad push back up. Then Stafford’s Cave with its chill breeze pushing out.

Then, what i thought of as the final descent.
Expecting a long downhill, the single track is tidy and contained and well drained and fast. Almost dangerously fast. One new out and back fall-line-remover but otherwise just fast and smooth. Couldn’t even tell where pete had his wee off last time. Just rapidly got to Druggan’s Flat and then it was a brief descent to the gate and over to the other parked Subaru before the final roll out to my car.

Sweeeeet. Basically, a 30 minute climb followed by 10 minute downs and ups and downs to the dam, another 10 to the caves and another 15 to the end - except with all the faffing about looking at views and taking the odd pic, you’re looking a couple hours tops. fantastic on a nice day, tho ear plugs could almost be recommended due to the cicadas, i'm seriously thinking longterm hearing damage... :)

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