Maruia Springs - Hanmer Springs: Spring to spring in spring...

Friday November 12, 2010, 80 km (49 miles) - Total so far: 1,077 km (669 miles)

Time: 5:26 Distance: 79.55 km Average: 14.6 kph Max: 65.5 kph Altitude Gain: 1006 m

Despite the expense, my stay at the Maruia Springs Japanese Bath House resort was a very pleasant one. Indeed, the hot baths are just the thing for soothing weary legs. And what luxury to have a room with an ensuite bathroom, and a very comfortable king-size bed with crisp white linen. It was difficult to drag myself out of it this morning.

But morning also brought an email from Heather - she and her group have had a successwful trek to Everest Base Camp, and have returned safely to Namche Bazaar. They will fly out to Kathmandu on Monday from Lukla, so I won't be completely at ease on that score until the flight arrives at KTM.

A few damp patches indicated there had been showers during the night, and the resort was swathed in mountain mist. The route started with something my cold body really does not like - a 6 kilometre climb to the pass, without preamble. Nonetheless I soon found the rhythm and climbed away in the mist, which was cool but humid and in no time at all I was literally dripping, stopping several times to strip off the layers.

Lewis Pass does not have a marker at the high point, but after an hour the road turned downward and I stopped to put on jacket and gloves for the descent. It was a real screamer (see my max speed) even modulating the brakes continuously until my arms started to pump and I gave up, and it was very cold.

Eventually the grades eased and the landscape began to roll along the spectacular Lewis Valley.

Last night at Maruia Springs, after reviewing my planned itinerary, I had virtually decided against taking the option of a return to the west coast over Arthur's Pass. It required four long hard days of riding, and I was already a day behind schedule.

Today a change in the weather confirmed the decision, a strong blustery wind began to blow out of the north-west, and there was not way the option was doable with that to contend with.

With the wind again at my back, I bowled along briskly, hardly pedalling at all except for on the occasional rise, until I encountered a series of short but very steep climbs, five or six in succession. By now the cloud had cleared to a fine day, and the sun blazed down on my back, so the climbing was very tiring, and tiresome.

Eventually the climbing was done and once again I enjoyed being propelled by the wind, and wondered about the possibility of using a windsurfers kite as an engine. Sounds kinda fun, and probably quite dangerous.

Edit: This series of climbs near the Hope River I later learned are actually a major fault line dividing the east and west coasts.

Arriving at the Hanmer Springs turnoff I found a café and adventure site perched on the edge of a canyon, where bungee jumping, jet boats, and white water rafting featured, and with only 10 kilometres to go, enjoyed a burger and a leisurely lunch break before finishing the day off.

The Japanese Bath Houses - an idyllic setting in a tranquil location...

Massive moraines and terraces are evident everywhere - these bands suggest different periods of glaciation...

The landscapes are huge...

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