Sunday, December 24, 2006

Twas The Night Before Xmas

It's now Xmas Eve at Hanaia. Sister Janine and nephew Phillip have just arrived. Leigh is vacuuming and the house and land is in good nick after Lucy especially, Thomas, Sam and I did a big clean up this morning while Leigh was out mtbing with Shirley. We didn't get a traditional Xmas tree this year. A couple of nights ago Lucy and I went down the hill and chopped a branch off the pohutukawa which was planted on her afterbirth and have used that. It appears to be fading fast and is making the place smell funny so I took a photo last night in case it doesn't last past tomorrow.

Despite struggling with a heavy cold had a stunning day mtbing in the Whirinaki with 16 other possums. It's a 2 hour drive deep into the boondocks to arrive at Minginui, but well worth the effort. Kurt was heard to say that these were the best tracks he had ever ridden in NZ. Jacquie. Kerry and Neil did some bush walks while myself, Kurt, Lucy, Thomas, Andrew, Amber, Kerr, Tine, Brian, Michael, Hamish, Marg, Tim and Anthony all MTBed.The native bush is outstanding. All virgin natives with ancient rimu and lots of other podocarps I can't identify. Underneath there was awesome regeneration. A lot of work has gone into the tracks. While some of the climbs were tough they were all manageable. The downhills were awesome with quite a bit of sweeping corners, then some tricky tight corners, with great low jumps all on single track. We soon split into 3 groups. Kerr, Brian, Michael and Hamish were champing at the bit so we sent them on to complete the 16k circuit without stopping. The middle group of Tine, Kurt, Tim, Amber, Thomas, Tim and Anthony set off with instructions to wait at the junction of the long and short track. Lucy, Andrew and I decided to bike in sections to support Marg who proved to be a tough possum.

Groups 2 and 3 met at the junction and Thomas, Lucy and Tine decided to wait for Marg and take the short route back. They experienced some very steep downhill with Thomas claiming he was the downhill ace, tho Lucy disputed this! The rest of us headed up a steep climb and because of a little bit of luck and a very high level of geograpic skill and sense of direction on my part found the unmarked sharp turn we were meant to take. We had 6-7k of fantastic and almost-out-of-control single track downhill.

We manged that without any mishaps. I was quite impressed with Tim's fearlessness on the downhill, but I was able to put him in his place on the short, but steep uphill climbs. We gathered together at the top of Kereru Rd before the final 5 min downhill to the finish where we discovered that every one was back except for Kerr, Brian, Michael and Hamish. It soon became apparent that the only group without a teacher in it was lost. We correctly assumed they had missed the left hand turn that we had expertly found and had cycled deep into the Ureweras heading overland generally in the direction of Taupo 150km away! There was nothing for it but to eat our lunch and wait. About an hour later they turned up proud of their adventure into uncharted territory. Apparently, Kerr had a spectatular fall into a large puddle of mud. It really seemed to make Brian's day.

Marg headed off to Wanganui (before the lost boys had returned!) and we all took off. We took a spin through Minginui Village which was very depressing. We could all hear the Deliverance music and were keen not to end up down a cul-de-sac never to be seen again!

I've just discovered Flickr and I've put all of the photos from Whirinaki there. Click here to view them.

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