26 Dec Southern Epicer: DAY 4: Millers Flat to Alexandra – 190km
Whew, another epic day for us. Left camp at around 8:45 and it was a few hours of easy backcountry roads. Nice and cruisy, though not great for fuel consumption.
From Piano Flat it was lovely hard-packed dirt roads through the forest, winding up and down. Traction in the rear isn’t great on these kinds of roads, we think the rear suspension is struggling.
At the start of Waikaia Bush Road, there is a sign that says “it’s harder than it looks” they weren’t kidding. If it had been raining, we would have turned around. Straight off the bat, we had some very steep dirt to climb. Probably the steepest we have encountered. If at any time we had stalled or stopped the bikes, we would have had to turn around, go back down and try again. Fortunately, we didn’t have to do that, maybe its skill, but most likely we are just lucky.
After the steep climb, the trail meandered upwards, occasionally boggy, eroded in places to rock steps and deeply rutted in others.
We came across a couple of dirt bikers, a guy on a quad and his 10 year old son on the tiniest dirt bike we have ever seen. That made it look easy. Kudos to the little guy, this track was tough and his dad had to lift him and his bike out of some of the boggy mud holes that were as big as his bike.
By the time we made it to Potters Hut ( another remain from another mini gold rush), we were getting pretty fatigued. When I get fatigued, I tend to get stuck more often, and we both get a bit snippy with each other. A short break and some food usually sorts us both out.
Our main objective today was to reach Old Man Obelisk. A large rock formation at the top of a ridgeline. To get there though we had to slowly climb to a higher altitude. Unsurprisingly this meant that we encountered some snowy patches along the trail. Snow is lovely except when it masks the muddy ruts. We made it through the first one with a bit of extra pushing and shoving. A group of 4x4s came through and made the remaining patches easier by carving a path through them.
Our 4×4 escort turned off and we finished the remainder of the track in thick mist with the visibility dropping to less than 20m in some parts. After taking some photos at the big rock, it started to hail. We figured we needed to get down to a lower elevation and hurried down what was now a maintained dirt access road to the valley below.
We rolled into Alexander on fumes. Groms still had half a litre of fuel in them and we still have not had to use the extra fuel we have lugged along with us.