Why are there so many...
Intentions were for Mt Grey, early start. Willis was out due to concerns for the weather, and then got a cancellation txt from Nelson first thing - crook neck from awkward lifting last night. Leaving just Bex and me. I hit the road, 8.10, picked up Bex, and we headed north, Mt Grey with looming stormy dark clouds building from the westerly behind. We took the left after Salt Water Creek across through Balcairn, all the while watching the darkness escalating but all the while hoping for the best. Turned onto Comptons Bush Rd and headed in, onto the gravel, marvelling at the rainbow(s), and then the rain hit. Downpour; Mt Grey completely obscured from view and looking pretty set in... Damn...
Quick U-turn and we contemplated our options as we headed for Amblesville. One was the Leithfield trails, flat and possibly a little boring, one was exploring around Mt Cass, i'd heard there was some potential riding up there, and the other (hindsight is always 20/20) was head into Amblesville for a coffee. We chose option 2: Mt Cass vicinity. Headed to Waipara, struggling to shake the rain, but then into sunshine there and hung a right. Mt Cass Walkway 3kms, Tirimoana Walkway 8kms. Pulled into Mt Cass and the sign said No Cycles or Motorcycles... oh well, so headed further to the latter. Again with the No Cycles of Motorcycles. What up with that? Surreptitiously ignoring said notice we hit the trail. A loop. Pretty much all 4wd or quad trail, farm tracks. Numerous steep stepladder stiles. Their reason for lack of access to Mountain Bikes or Horses is due to "conflict with other users"... What other users? We were the only ones in the area. This place is PERFECT for bikers, they really need to open their eyes and get with the programme. The potential for purpose built singletrack in this area is huge.
Started out at around 280-300m alt, dropping 80 m over around half a km to an intersection of the loop, with a weird little square 'person' gate hanging in the middle of the deer fence that we figured would be tricky for bikes so we continued along the clockwise version of the loop, along a ridge, maybe 40 or 50m climb then lots of descent, zipping along, rolling, cruising nicely, into some sweet singletrack that zigged and zagged through some forestry, then again open country, mostly descending down down, past a portaloo in the middle of nowhere on the way down to a turn off for the beach, nearly all of the 300odd m lost. Over a stile at Kate Ford, and down the singletrack following the creek, crossing it a couple of times. The first crossing, i popped my front wheel over, then over-popped my back wheel and proceeded to go straight over the handlebars, landing with a whumpf and a giggle from behind. Brushed myself off, crossed the creek a couple more times, and there was the surf.
Me approaching the Beach
Looking northwards, nice spot.
Looking south, here comes the rain.
Rain started as we left the beach, back up the creek gulch, successful crossings of the stream this time, and left at the ford, straight into steepness. Lots of steepness followed, with views of rainbows, and more steepness. Eventually a sidle, more rain, a couple of increasingly wet descents, one to a cool lookout into a gulley, another steepness, another longer descent, longer, down to the flatlands with picturesque ponds and swampland. I'm dubious tho, cos its all leachate treatment area from the giant 'super' dump, just upstream.
Across the boggy flats, and back into climbing, again, steep, eventually back to the weird little square gate we now had to go through. Bikes passed over the fence, a little tricky, and then climb climb climb back to the car. Starting at 300m, down to sealevel, and climbing back, with ups and downs in between, adds up to roughly 500m of climbing total.
All up, a couple hours, and when we drove back over the hill, overlooking picturesque north canterbury, there's Mt Grey, basking in the sunshine, gloating at us. If only the coffee in Amblesville had been our choice, we likely would have gotten up there. It was only 11.30 and i was almost tempted to head over there, but, things to do etc headed home.