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Published: February 18th 2010
With Judy, above Jacks Pass
Judy joined me for a long weekend at Hanmer Springs, before I set off on the Rainbow. We had a wonderful time catching up and going for a couple of walks - including this one into the hills above Jacks Pass.
It was a purple kind of dawn. The peaks stood out so sharply in the early light they looked as though they had been chiseled from the skyline. The valley was still in darkness, but as my first brew of the morning came to the boil, a hawk (or more properly an Australasian harrier) was trying to make breakfast out of a skylark and then a magpie. But the hawk’s usual aerial grace was missing. It was flying just over the trees outside the hut, but it was clumsy and struggling to stay airborne as it’s prey ducked and dived through the uppermost branches. It soon gave up and moved on, and I took my cup of tea back to my bunk.
No Bull, Thanks
I was in the DOC hut at Lake Sedgemere, roughly half way between Hanmer Springs and St Arnaud. I’d ended up here by accident. My intention had been to camp, but the obvious spots had drawbacks - a lack of water and a bull. It was amongst a herd of cows and their calves and had sniffed the air in a somewhat menacing manner as I cycled past. Whether it was my
Mist Clearing On Jacks Pass
Cycling out of Hanmer Springs, the first of two climbs on the Rainbow is here - Jacks Pass. It has a reputation with motorists as a rough stretch of road, but apart from a few corrugations it was fine.
smelly shirt or simply my presence I wasn’t sure, but I figured I’d sleep better with a fence or better still a wall, between him and me.
The hut was empty and it felt a luxury to nestle back into my sleeping bag and watch the day brighten.
Straight Into It
My first day on the Rainbow had started with a stiff climb up Jacks Pass, 500m in six kilometres. I’d paused for a breather part way up, but didn’t find the going too tough.
Pretty as a Picture But ….
After that the landscape had opened out, but I was just a little disappointed. My cycling guide books had promised more, but this reminded me of neighboring Molesworth. It had been stunning - but the guidebooks said the Rainbow was even better. However, Lake Tennyson was pretty, and I thought about pitching my tent. It was at an altitude of 1120m and there was absolutely no shelter if the weather turned bad. Reluctantly, I pedaled on and by day’s end found myself at Sedgemore.
By the time I cycled off the next morning, the sky was overcast
Dammed behind glacial moraines, Lake Tennyson was a pretty spot and I would have liked to have camped here. But at 1120m above sea level, it was very exposed to the weather and there were no natural windbreaks.
with high cloud and it felt as though rain was on the way. At Coldwater Stream, I pulled off and talked to the only people I’d met so far - two campers in a four wheel drive. He’d caught a trout which they’d had for breakfast, but the sandflies were biting my bare legs and it wasn’t long before I was moving on.
Suddenly the scenery became more dramatic. I found myself cycling through a gorge with the Wairau River on my left and huge boulders and a shattered landscape all around me. The road is described as suitable for 4WD vehicles and mountain bikes only - and now I believed it. The road dropped down through fords, climbed steeply out of them and twisted and turned as it cut through scree slopes and steep cliffs. And everywhere was the river and giant power pylons, for like the Molesworth, this road was made to enable their construction.
“Don’t Forget to Pay"
The Rainbow Station is Crown land leased to Star Holdings and farmed. Those using the road must pay a toll - $5 for bicycles in an icecream
container at a closed gate. A woman in a house nearby emerged to remind me. While I was at it, I used a handily placed bottle of disinfectant to spray my shoes against the spread of didymo - a microscopic alga that is threatening some of our rivers.
Heading for Shelter
With about 25 kilometres to go, the first light rain arrived. But I didn’t care. I was back on tar seal and closing on St Arnaud. And my day was made when I discovered the DOC campground here has hot showers - just what every mountain biker needs when he’s ridden the Rainbow.
Tot: 0.092s; Tpl: 0.026s; cc: 15; qc: 28; dbt: 0.0119s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb