Saturday, December 20, 2008

12/20/2008 - The Campfire Principle

Well, the day dawned with my usual rethink of my previous plan. Last night, I had decided to make it all the way to Rawene, about 50 miles away. This puts me through the kauri forests and on my way to the far north.

But waking up with sore legs has a way of making you rethink things. "Maybe another day to let my legs get better." "Isn't it supposed to rain today?" "Is there a next campsite that is closer?"

But in the end, pride won out and off I went, directly up a steep hill. With a bit of a shock, a hawk or bird-of-prey of some kind flushed up about 10 feet away from me, then lofted lazily over the bluff.

IMGP0845.JPGIstarted at the very bottom of the valley behind me. Ah, the smell of dripping sunscreen in the morning!

Actually, the day was magnificent, and soon I found myself dropping quickly into the thick Kauri forest after a very long 5 mile climb.

IMGP0846.JPGThe Kauri forest before dropping down into it. I get to cross all those big ridges today!

IMGP0847.JPGPart of the long climb before dropping into the forest. The ocean is in the distance and the wind is fierce. It is also directly in my face.

IMGP0848.JPGThe land goes from the picture above this one almost directly into the thick forest. These two trees seemed like good gatekeepers, hence the picture.

The bike through the Kauri Forest was really a highlight. Lots of time spent climbing, but much more gentle grades for the most part. This meant that I could concentrate on the scenery and the extremely varied bird calls, from a "whip-o-whil" to some bird that sounded like the calliope at a circus. Little traffic came through, and what did was kind enough to give plenty of room, and usually a honk or a thumbs up if I was on a grade.

There was a short hike to see the mondo gigantor tree (the king of the forest), which I took the bike on.

IMGP0850.JPGThis does not give a good indication of size. That trunk is about 75 feet away and is something like 20-25 feet in diameter.

IMGP0851.JPGA small house could actually fit up in the top of this tree, just for scale's sake.

The only negative to this hike was that I talked to the lady at the hot dog stand (had to get one, running low on calories) and, when questioned, she let me know that a "really big hill" stood between the forest and Rawene.

"Is is worse than the ones south of the forest?" I asked, hopefully.

"Oh, yes! It is a lot longer and steeper than those." Not what I was hoping to hear. Oh well, no choice but to push on.

Well, she was right about one thing: that sucker was STEEP. Was only about 2km to the top, though, so not very long.

IMGP0852.JPGOK, so the guns have dropped to airguns. It still felt good to get to the top of this ridiculous hill and I was celebrating.

IMGP0853.JPGThe bay from up above.

It was somewhere around this point that my oxygen-deprived mind decided that the same force in the universe that causes campfire smoke to always head right for you was also in charge of headwinds. No matter what direction I turned, I kept getting just blasted. Downhill, it just slowed me down to comfortable speeds. Uphill, though, was torturous. I'd just get into a pedal rhythm when I would see the grass bend and the wind whistle would start, and all of a sudden the pedals became a lot harder to push. On average, it was two drops in a gear for the headwind today. And I often had to pedal with some force even downhill. Points for driving a car.

Met an Austrian hitchhiker today, nice guy, ran into him twice as I caught up to him. He is planning to camp deep in the woods for a few nights to get away from the crowds. Not sure what crowds he is talking about, but Herbert is determined.

Around 3PM, the sky had become overcast (as they often do), except this time it dumped down rain. I only had about 15 miles left, so did not get my raingear - it felt good for awhile, even if it did sting on downhills.

IMGP0854.JPGThe rain had lightened up enough that I could get into the waterproof pouch for the camera.

Needless to say, it got a bit chilly. Shoes, socks, shirt, and shorts might as well have gone through the wash.

But, finally pulled into Rawene around 6PM after 7 hours of biking today. 50 miles: A new record!

Found the campground (alas, at the top of another steep hill) and pitched my tent in the rain. 15 minutes later, the rain stopped completely. Gah.

I didn't care, though. I was in the warm shower. Chills were gone.

IMGP0855.JPGOn the way into Rawene during a short slowdown of the rain.

Bought a frozen pizza and made some PB&J while it cooked. I was calorie deficient. Wolfed it down to a backdrop like this:

IMGP0858.JPGThis was well AFTER I put up my tent.

Off to bed, another 40 miles on the plan for tomorrow.


  1. I can't help read your blog thinking this is great, but what could put it right over the top. What would realy set it apart from other travel blogs bringing you instant fame and likely fortune. Wait...I have it! Geotag your photos and upload a map of your days travles for us to follow along.


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