Friday, January 14, 2011

Thursday night, chasing sunset Mt Grey switchbackage

Awesome ride last night. (pics never did come)...

i guess you could say my ride began with spinning the townie across town to GG's to pick up her jeep, which i had to use cos T had the car in Hanmer, and i had to pick up a lawnmower from some friends in Loburn. I figured, "i'll be in loburn, and i was gonna ride tonight, so why not do Mt Grey?". So, back home, got ready and Chris turned up, and off we set. Got the lawnmower and cruised round through Ashley, Sefton and Balcairn, then on up the heinously corrugated Campton's Bush Rd to Lake Janet.

Roughly 7.30 when we set off up the forestry road for the top. Chris soon leaving me behind, but both of us maintaining big (36t) rings up front all the way. relishing the smells of the sections of beech forest on the way up, the sharp honey dew coupled with the dampish mossy must, between sections of pine. couple stops with Chris getting photos of the spectacular views, sun getting low in the sky and the shadow-play on the landscape highlighting features not normally seen. once above the lookout the road levels off a bit and the vegetation becomes sub-alpine, and the views to the west are all layered shades of grey and blue ranges of hills towards the Puketerakis. approaching the massive telecomms tower i spotted a hare the size of a sheepdog. it was huge, loping off into the tussock-spaniard-celmisia shrubland. also, watched a bellbird flitting from solitary flax flowers, stalk to stalk, all bathed in a lowering yellow-orange sunlit glow.

peaked the trig-peak, after a nice little steepish singletrack descent from the telecomms-towers-peak and loose climb, about 8.20 or so and, figuring we had time for the Mt Grey, but not the Red Beech, track. Seats down a bit, we skedaddled down round the traversing singletrack. funtimes begun. couple of boggy sections, a few switchbacks later and then rounding over a small col, we entered the bush, embraced by the bittersweet smell of the black-fungus/scale-insect symbiosis tapping the inner juices of the Nothofagus, and the drone of wasps and bees collecting the stuff.

a series of short switchbacks followed, some rideable, some not, and then near the start of the first nice longish section of trail there is a wee rock stepdrop, followed by a corner with a rock wall next to it. i popped the step, felt the wheels sketchiness on landing but made it round nicely and jetted on down the flowing sweetness of the trail to the next switchback, where i stopped and waited for Chris. sign. waited some more. still no sign. so, put the bike on the trail above the corner, changed down and ground my way back up, to find Chris sitting next to the rockface following the stepdrop, rubbing his knee and elbow, his bike off down the bank below the track. he'd overcooked and lost it on landing the step and smacked into the rockface and tumbled, garking the forks and his knee and . i got his bike up from below and he straightened the bars, and off we set again.

from here the trail varied from switchback closely followed by switchback, or switchback followed by sweet flowing section of trail on down and down and down. one section it was easier to just walk the quick sequence of multiple switchbacks as altitude was scrubbed off quickly. there were some beautiful big trees the lower we got, birdsong, that honeydew smell, and at one point even a morepork starting up. the depths of the forest were getting a bit darker now, but as we traversed up to the Lake Janet track turn off the sun was shining horizontally through the forest in a spectacular light.

the track surface is of superlative quality, chipped greywacke, well drained. the width is much tighter than most benched native trails we're used to, and so the sensation of speed is greatly enhanced. Numerous long sections of sublime flowing fast singletrack ensued as we dropped lower into the valley at a similar rate to the sun dropping towards the horizon. Sunset was at 9.12pm, and we made the end of the trail in the bottom of the valley about 9.15.

From here, the climb back to the car at lake janet is disproportionately long and painful (for me anyway) with a couple of granny sections thrown in for good punishment. it was 9.40 as we drove off down the road, a pinky-red glowing sunset seeing us off down the hill.

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