Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday Night Wharfdale clearing

Left work early and managed to get to Nelson's close to 4.20-30pm.  We loaded his car and hooned around through Oxford and Woodstock Rd and then up through the fords and gates to an empty carpark (no surprise there).  No idea what time we got there, maybe 5ish?  Off up the track, Spot climbing well, and Jet running off ahead and waiting and running ahead, veeerryy happy.  Trail quite wet in places but I was feeling good, but Nelson's heart rate was all up the wazoo on account of having imbibed a RedBull on the way to the trailhead.  Got to the gate and the first descent, bomb bomb bomb, yikes, skiiiid, stopping as my handlebar hit Nelson's ass.  A big tree across the track.  Out with the Pocket Chainsaw, manning a handle each, cut through the quite rotten log, wearing out our arms in the meantime, jumped on it a bit and got through it, and moved it off.  One down, how many to go??  Got riding again, and just around the corner the climbing began again.

Climby climby climb, in and out and round and round over the bridges, feeling pretty good.  Nelson's heart rate still out of whack.  Jet loving every sniff.  On a windthrown ridge we got to our next project.  A bit of a mess of branches and trunks, many snapped off and in-your-eye spiky.  Out with the saw and many branches cut and moved and a clear way through except for one large log, easily stepped over.  Jet was wondering what the hell we were up to, "come ON, guys!"  Onwards again, and lots of nice swoopy descending, trail in perfect nick, light starting to get low, especially in the gloomier spots of forest.  Another tree across, more work with the saw and cleared, and now it was time for lights.  Another smaller (but wedged) tree, another one cleared.

Up the rocky outcrop, largely unrideable down to the creek that follows, and the slog up out of that, skirting the slips and back on the bikes, onwards ever onwards.  Another tree cleared, arms and shoulders starting to ache from the sawing. All the creek crossings are a lot more rideable now, there's been a fair bit of work put in in recent times, since all the slips and tree-throw of the last year or two.  Rode on, loving the downhill bits and enjoying the climbs.  Approaching the the switchbacks towards the end, the mudpugs were unavoidable.  I think there was maybe one or two more trees moved before the end.  We were at the saddle about 7pm, moreporks calling.  Pitch dark without the lights.  Surprisingly, I discovered I had cellphone reception, so flicked off a couple texts to home.

Then it was time to head back.  After the mud and the first creek crossing, we picked up speed down towards the first corner, assuming Jet was just behind, but got round that corner and looked back.  No Jet.  Waited, no sign.  Walked back up round the corner, calling, no sign!  Started to freak a bit, called and whistled, and no show!  Oh noes, I thought, I've lost the dog :(.  Then, in the distance, his wee glowing eyes, trotting along down the track.  Dunno what had kept him.  But he trotted onwards.

Rest of the ride out was good, I kept him in sight a bit more carefully, which slowed me down at times I'd have liked to go faster.  Somewhere, there was a tree across the track at about waist height we'd left on the way in, thinking it too hard, but we got sawing and cut nearly all the way through it but then couldnt move it.  Eventually, we pushed over a dead-standing widder-maker nearby and managed to use it to smash through our cut trunk.  Then we levered and bruteforced it off the trail.  Brilliant.  Continued on up to the high windblown point before the swoopy best fun descent began.  Once more I got a bit ahead of Jet and worried we'd lost him again, but he showed and just steadily trotted past and on not waiting for me - I think his wee paws were getting sore from all the sharp rocks. Awesome flow through this section now down to the low.  Final climb to the gate I was slooow and tired, legs spent, and lack of dinner taking it's toll.  Good pace down from the gate, waiting a few times for Jet, before finally getting back to the car, low cloud skudding through that saddle.  Was after 9.30 or so by the time we got to Nelson's place again.  A beer and a feed there, then I wasn't home til after 11.  Drove through some really heavy drizzle at Swannanoa.

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