Monday, February 9, 2009

2/6/2009 - Alaska or New Zealand?

Up reasonably early at Lake Paringa. Ate breakfast in the tent, then packed up per usual. It's another 65 miles to camp tonight, and there is one big climb today (Knight's Point).

IMGP1625.JPG Starting off from Lake Paringa. It's a little misty, but no major rains. Very piney scent.

The clouds start to lift further and further, and by the time Knight's Point comes up, there is no more mist. This climb turns out to be pretty steep, and adds insult to injury by giving me a nice, steep downhill for about 300 feet that I have to immediately climb back up again. It is a beautiful coastal view, though.

IMGP1626.JPGRugged Knight's Point. Looks like a perfect spot for pirate gold.

IMGP1629.JPGLooking out over the ocean. I've noticed that my hair has conformed to the holes in my helmet, resulting in sort of a Bart Simpson thing going on. Ay caramba!

IMGP1631.JPGSome seriously cool scrub trees forming a phalanx against the prevailing wind.

The clouds continue as I pull into the town of Haast. There won't anything with regards to stores between here and Wanaka (2 days away), so I select some important staples (perhaps some peanut butter and jelly and bread?) and some quick energy. Then I set out for the campground which is another 30 miles.

There is very little traffic, and what there is is almost exclusively tourists. As I move more inland, the mountains start to tower over me and the rainforest style really comes out. It looks a lot like some parts of Alaska, minus the risk of bear disembowelment.

IMGP1632.JPGJust coming into the mountains. I think my face says it all - it is like coming home.

IMGP1633.JPGLooking up into the mountains. I finally start to feel like I'm really away from people, and it is very relaxing.

At last, I pull into the DOC campground. I am the only tent, though 2 or 3 campervans are here as well. Given the few people, the black flies are ravenous and I have to fight through clouds of them to get my full raingear and Deet on. The tent goes up quickly and I make a quick dinner. It is getting late and so I head towards bed, but not before getting this next picture looking toward the opening valley (back the direction I came from).

IMGP1635.JPGThe air freshener companies have a long way to go to get this right. I would have stood here for longer in the fresh, clean breeze if I didn't keep sucking black flies up my nose.

Tomorrow is the most dreaded hill on the trip, perhaps in New Zealand. Haast Pass. I need my sleep tonight. The only thing that keeps me from it is an even longer black fly genocide than usual in the tent, but soon I am asleep.

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