Sunday, January 06, 2013

Wakamarina, the hard way... 5th Jan 2013

Second ride of the year was with Nelson, who drove up specially.

We took two cars out of The Grove, heading to Havelock and then up to Canvastown where we left his.  Back round through Havelock and on down to the North Bank Rd and round into the Onamalutu road... Up this past the Onamalutu reserve and into the gravel and onwards up, finding a fucking sign saying ROAD CLOSED - Access to Wakamarina Track CLOSED...  DAMN.  Considered parking up and riding anyway, but it seemed pretty serious, so we drove back, all the way to Canvastown then all the way up the Wakamarina Rd to the end to ride.  Was about 11 by the time we made it up there, a good couple of hours after having left Queen Charlotte.  Ugh.

The ride to ensue was possibly the most draining ride i've ever completed.  We rode up the 4wd track for a start, which becomes the track proper a km or two in.  Open and hot and dry to start, it enters lovely shady cool forest and is a nice gradient, mostly up.

At the Doom Creek turn off we decided to take a look at this.  Wow.  What a trail.  Awesome benched, ex water-race, trail, into these spectacular gorges, some small, waterfally ferny bushy gulches, and a couple of sizeable water crossings nigh on impossible to keep feet dry.  Some insane exposures, big drops off the side into gigantic-boulder strewn gulleys.  Good final descent, rough and ready, down to the main track, and on up this we cruised.

Mostly climbs, but a surprising number of descents, usually into small to medium sized creek crossings, most of which not rideable.  Eventually making the Devil's Hut.  Dropped down for a look, and filled in the intentions book just for the hell of it.

Next up, the climb.  Ugh.  I had no memory of most of the track.  Nelson and me did this about 10 years ago.  We couldnt even remember the bikes we were riding.  Anyway, it was too steep to ride, all the way up.  We probably pushed for about 1.5-2 hours, up up up.  Cleared two big windfalls on the way, which was good.  Also opened up a rotten log so's to be rideable.  Midway we bumped into two separate walking parties, first off a dad and two sons, then a couple.  Nearing the top we ran into two solo riders, and then a group of 4 from Nelson (turned out they knew Stu), one of them on a Fatbike (cool!).  (They'd all entered the proper way via the alternative access, Bartlett's Rd, apparently a 45minute detour from the usual Kiwi Rd).  We continued upwards, finally making the 1066m top.  I was dead.  This was about 3pm or so, i think.

At least it was (kinda) all down hill from here...  The descent is crazy.  Starts out really rooty, bumpy, you can hardly take your eyes off the ground to see where the orange triangles are and where the trail's going.  Around where we'd met the group there is a mad practically vertical face of roots which there was no way i was gonna ride.  Dont think Nelson did it either...  Then it was pretty much good to go from there on down.  One or two bits i think i had to get off, but i cleaned waaay more switchbacks than i did all those years ago, my skills having been honed over the years, and a better bike i guess.  there was less than a handful that i had to stop on to turn the bike.  All big giant red beech and rimu, blechnum ferns, open and lush forest, very Lord of the Rings-esque.

And it all just came back at us so damned quickly, steep, interesting, challenging, and bloody hard work.  I think it was about a half hour from leaving the top to making the hut again.  Topped up water here and then headed on down the rest.  The climbs getting harder and harder, and the heat increasing the lower down we got.  Eventually stopped at one of the creeks and i could have climbed in.  Good dunking of the head and washing arms etc sure helped out.  The steep ass rocky switchback descent to Doom Creek was a challenge, the top corner getting me spooked, but cleaned the rest and then died walking out up the steep dry hot switchbacks leading out.  Once back in the shady forest again tho, it was mostly downhill, past the 4wd end and on down the open section back to the car.  Skulled a Poweraid i wish i'd taken with me and then we headed on back, after first stopping at the end of the road campground and having another dunk, this time, walking into the river to cool the leg muscles.

Got back home to The Grove around 6-6.30.  A LONG day.

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