Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Day 4 - Arthurs Pass to Big River Hut

I'm going to Jackson ...! 
In the chair at the Hilton

Historic School near Waiuta

Waiuta remains

Tor at Big River Hut

Resisting an OSM in Big River Hut
Massive bowl of muesli for breakfast and off by seven. Clothing not completely dry but at least clean. Clear skies still holding so after gentle climb to Arthur's Pass, Tor and I raced down Otira Gorge unfortunately getting held up by the truck that just passed us climbing the pass. However this meant we had time to admire the impressive viaduct and other engineering feats on the way down. Seemed very little time before we were at the historic Jacksons Pub, but no sign of life at 8 am so we carried on towards Inchbonnie. The cool back roads of compacted earth and typical West Coast bush through to Stillwater provided some of the most pleasant riding of the Brevet. Unfortunately Stillwater cafe was shut on Tuesdays! so it was off to Blackball for a healthy steak pie and coke. As we finished young Owen and Mick turned up. They had stayed at the Bealey the previous night. We were unsure as to whether we could get through Big River to Reefton that night (given the horific stories about this stage from the 2010 Brevet) so were prepared to camp out if necessary. On the back road to Ikamatua we met up with Julie and Thomas so ended shopping at the store and eating iceblocks together to cool down a bit before setting off for the old gold mining town of Waiuta. We kept a steady pace arriving about 5pm so decided it was worth pushing on. The gradient up to big river hut was mostly ridable but the ground was very soft and spongy. It was very easy to follow the route as the track was quite badly cut up by the previous riders and since we could only manage 3-4 km/hr we mostly walked. 3 hours later we arrived at Big River Hut and decided it looked like a great place for an overnight. Mick and Owen turned up just as it was getting dark so we had a large bunk each for the night. We didn't see Julie and Thomas so presumed they had camped out. Another good nights sleep on a thick mattress.

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