I flew down to Christchurch on Thursday and worked remotely on Friday (although a healthy amount of time was spent drinking beer with Nick at the adventure park). In the evening Katie, Gina, Cass, Simon and family, and I drove to Port Levy Saddle and walked to the Rod Donald Hut. Due to all manner of disorganised-ness we arrived at the saddle at different times in different cars. I transported (formerly) my ladies and noted that I was slowly paying down my massive taxi-ing debt that I racked up in my previous pre-Europe life. They noted that the debt was great and the trip was short.
The Smalley’s had already set off when we arrived at Port Levy Saddle and after some faffing we did too. It was a short walk to the hut. We walked along the ridge in the moonlight with just a couple of headlamps between the four of us. Once at the hut we made hot chocolates and desserts and the girls toasted marshmallows on a candle that Gina lit. After the kids went to bed we lay outside in the grass near the hut. It was a warm night with some wind. The hills were illuminated by the almost full moon. It was very nice. We kept an eye on the stars and chatted. I asked Gina if the last 21 years had been good. We retired later to the hut to sleep.
The hut is a tidy nine bunk arrangement that you can book. I’d booked it all, which was nice.
On Saturday we made pancakes downstairs in the kitchen and started the day slowly. Before leaving, we hid Easter eggs outside for the girls to relive the great Otehake Easter Egg hunt from days gone by. The walk out was short again and we drove down to Little River for lunch. Such are the ways of us cafe dwelling types.
Gina and Katie headed off home and the rest of us went to Okains Bay for a night of camping.
On Saturday I rode a two stage Tasman Wheelers race. The first stage was a 30km graded scratch race that headed out over Rai Saddle. I started in B grade and along with some of the older guys got dropped on the hilly bits. I just don’t have the legs to keep up with the young guys. We had a nice descent from the saddle. I tried to mash the pedals as I used to do quite well on the flat. It wasn’t awful but I didn’t feel like I was producing the power I’d have liked to. Before the finish line an A grader, Mike, caught up with a young B grader in tow (the only one I managed to drop). I sat on and sprinted at the finish.
I started with the young B grader for the return race. It was a handicap race back. We worked together well but I couldn’t keep up with him going up the saddle and dropped off the pace as he rode away with some others. A few more passed me until Mike caught up again riding like a mad thing. I jumped on and to my surprise managed to stay on his wheel. I was working hard to keep up. He got away a few times in the descent but I managed to get back on even taking some turns at the front.
Near the end it suddenly began to pour with rain and sweat and sunblock ran into my eyes making them sting. I could hardly see where I was going having to close my eyes every few seconds. There was water everywhere but I followed. Another turn at the front I think. Then we could see the front bunch before us. Mike caught them up and then sprinted past. I stayed on his wheel for a bit but then a gap opened up. Still we were in front of the bunch and I sprinted across the line behind him and another guy who had managed to get on Mike’s wheel. It was good fun.
Two stage Tasman Wheelers race
I headed back to Nelson, got sorted and drove to the Rai Valley where I met Finnish Annu. We left her car there and drove with mine to French Pass. We pitched our tents just before it started raining heavily. It cleared later and we made a simple pasta meal before heading down to the beach to chat and look at the sky, now full of stars.
The following day we had a nosey around French Bay before driving back to Elaine Bay. It was warm and sunny and by chance we found a guy renting out a double kayak. We took the opportunity and rolled the kayak down to the shore. We spent about 3 hours kayaking in the beautiful sounds with blue sky and mostly flat water. We stopped briefly at Deep Bay and then kayaked across to the Matai Bay hut. It looks like a nice little place to stay. We then battled into a head wind until we had shelter behind and island. It was a cruisy paddle back to Elaine Bay.