Zen On Dirt

Rain, lakes, Twizel, and Mt Cook!

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Mt Cook, the highest peak in NZ, was on my list of things that I wanted to see before leaving the country. I like big mountains, even if all I get to do is look at them, because I don’t quite have the requisite skills to climb something like Cook.

Anyhow, today I got my wish. In fact, we got to watch the sun light up the mountain and provide a beautiful and colorful sunset while we ate dinner from camp. Tomorrow we go to the base for a few nights and do some tramping. We’ve got a 48 weather window, and we don’t plan to waste it.

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We did not really have a weather window this morning. The pitter patter of drops on the roof kept us all sleeping, and no one actually got up until just shy of 9am. Breakfast and two cups of coffee were not rushed affairs.

By the time we actually got riding, we knew that we’d hit the Ohau Lodge perfectly for lunch, perfectly for another round of coffees and a high country platter. This bike touring business, it’s rough.

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The tailwind that had pushed us into the hut had ceased, and the rain held off as we made our exit from the valley into the wide opens of southern Caterbury.

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Lunch was delicious, and we got the chance to see the logistics of a fully supported luxury tour of Alps to Ocean. Peoples’ luggage was unloaded and waiting for them when they got to the Lodge.

From the lodge, it was 39km to Twizel along the lakeside and a canal.

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There were no hills to speak of.

Or wind.

It’s been a while since I’ve experienced such easy and effortless riding.

It was beautiful too.

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And then we did something that is completely against our bike touring credo. We went into Twizel, bought a scone and donuts while we double checked the weather, loaded up on food and left.

Gah. Twizel looked neat, but Mt Cook is forecasted to have two days of good weather before it shuts down with rain for a bit, and a headstart for getting up there would do us good.

Hopefully we’ll hit up Twizel on our way back, towns are fun.

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We rolled out on the A2O track, turned a corner, and there was the giant mass of Mt Cook in the distance. It was covered in clouds, but it had to be it.

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As we rode down the trail, she gave us a tantalizing strip tease, the clouds slowly melting off the summit, exposing the peak that towered above everything else. Awestruck and in a full team-photo mode, it took us a long time to cover 5 miles.

We set camp up at the edge of Dept of Conservation land and drank our cider watching the light change on the mountain. It was magic, and I can’t wait to get closer tomorrow.

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