Monday, July 15, 2013

Getting Lost and Crashing a Lot

Picton River Bridge.
It's pretty hard to get lost and die in the bush. Most people, no matter how badly prepared they are, seem to muddle through ok and find their way home. You have to go to extraordinary lengths - like not taking maps or having a clear idea of where you are going to make sure of having a real adventure. In that pioneering spirit Ben and I tackled the Picton River loop on the weekend.

There was a minor series of fuck-ups to begin with. We started a bit late due to a miscommunication. At the Tahune Airwalk we breezed past the ticket-selling lady saying "We're just going up the Picton" so we didn't have to pay admission. She didn't bother pointing out we were heading the wrong way. Even before leaving the premises I managed to eat shit when my front wheel lost traction on the wet boardwalk and I went down hard. At least I got my hands out.

We set off at a good clip on a nice piece of track heading in the right general direction. Pretty soon it narrowed and it became apparent we were on the Airwalk's purpose-built mountain bike track. No big problem, except we were on road bikes and Ben was sporting 28mm slicks. Soon it was his turn to eat shit in the mud. Sadly I was too busy trying to hang on, but I'm assured his high speed crash could only have been more spectacular if there had been flames and a small explosion on impact.

Ben, not crashing. 

Once Ben had come to terms with the pain in his crash-injured leg, we decided we were heading in the wrong direction. Navigation was complicated by the fact that for some reason my bike computer was reading roughly twice what it should have, making it hard to know how far we'd gone. Doubling back we eventually found a faint track which took us out to the road we'd been looking for - about 800m from the start.

We set off on the fast, smooth surface, bounding up a few gentle undulations as Ben looked for the turnoff. We went past, "I Think This is It Road", past "No, This Looks More Like It Spur", before arriving at the "No, I Think It's This One turnoff - which happily it turned out to be.

Stunning tall forests.
As befits all grand adventures, the destination was well and truly worth the effort.With a little rain and fog about the old Picton River Bridge is a very atmospheric spot. The bridge is condemned and is probably not real safe even to walk across, but very scenic nonetheless. We stopped a while to soak it all in and put some more elaborate touches on the long-planned but highly unlikely to ever happen "Shitterbike Rafting Trip" - which is slated to begin at this spot - before heading back on the opposite bank of the river.

The road back featured even fewer of the gentle undulations of the other side. Since we now had a rough idea where we were going, progress was a lot faster and we were back at the Airwalk in fairly short order, where a couple of chicken burgers quickly eased the pain of our exertions. With all the detours we road about 25km and saw not a single car.

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