Autumn has arrived and with it cooler temperatures. We seem to have been blessed here on the West Coast though as to date, our autumn has been lovely and this weekend is no exception – clear blue sunny skies and hot!
This afternoon we’re off to do a ride called Noname which meets up with the Mudplug to the Little Hohuhu creek and then back out again. Depending on the conditions we may go a little further for some West Coast backcountry exploration…… first though……..
The Noname starts in the back of Marsden, all forestry blocks in the back of Greymouth. This is all native bush and plantation pine forest. A cross between Jurassic Park and Sherwood forest…….
The first section is a bit of a slog up the actual Noname gravel road – nice loose gravel – best kind right! There are a scattering of houses/sections along the way so we have the dogs on their leads just to be safe. Not sure if this makes the hill climb easier or harder. Nico, if given the chance might just pull me up the hill but if he finds something to smell along the way, I could be on the ground very quickly! Ziggy is generally better behaved on his lead – not sure if that is his good behaviour or because Stephen has a hold of him and not me……..
Pretty soon we leave the gravel road and head up a 4WD forestry road. The first section of the forestry road is regenerated native bush. It is really pretty in here with the mix of native forest and plantation forest – deep ravines to the side that seem to drop off forever. The trail is a gradually meander through the bush before a short downhill and then the real climbing begins. It isn’t particularly long but the gravel is quite loose and there are some large rocks/stones to negotiate your way up and over. Once at the top we start the decent down through the native forest and into the start of the plantation forest. This section is really rough and rocky and very loose. Good fun but you have to take care and pick your lines. Already I’m thinking of the return trip and not feeling particularly confident that I can keep my balance for the climb back out. Nevermind – I’ll tackle that when the time comes….. back to concentrating on the downhill and enjoying the ride.
Eventually the bottom arrives and we enter the logged forest area. The trail meanders along with some large puddles to skirt around. The dogs are happy to see these and get a well-earned drink. Quite a bit of logging has gone on in here over the last five or so years. The first time every up this way, when I moved to the West Coast, I was biking through pine forest, now it is all mainly deadwood stumps as it has been completely logged.
We arrive at the junction of the two trails and head off down the Mudplug. The trail lives up to its name today after some rain last week. Stephen roars ahead as usual – he is much quicker than me and likes to jump off the rocks. My excuse is I’m always thinking of the dogs – and not trying to make them run too fast – it is a long run in the sunshine. That is my excuse anyway and I’m sticking to it!
The last section the boys leave me and scoot ahead to catch up with Dad who is waiting at the creek. They are keen to get in the creek for a drink and a cooling off. This is also a good opportunity for a lunch stop for Stephen and me. We’ve got a filled roll each from the Do Duck In bakery in Greymouth – a nice little treat. Better still is the apple turnover waiting for us back at the car…… that will help entice me back up the hills later……
Stephen heads off through the creek to find the original mud-plug loop track. I didn’t even know this existed! After a couple of creek crossings and some nice boggy sections the track veers off to the right and straight up. Stephen and I both attempt to climb it on our bikes but it is pretty steep and very rocky – nice slippery rocks as everything is well sheltered in here from the sun so no chance of drying out. We push our bikes up, up and up before it finally plateaus at the top. It is fairly well over grown up here, lots of trees down so the 4WD vehicles aren’t even coming up here to help keep it open and a bit more ridable. We push on – Stephen assures me he knows where he is going….. mmmmm……
There are plenty of bogs to negotiate, walking to the side or through them mainly – not many are ridable. We attempt a couple that look promising but soon end up caked in mud and sucked to the bottom – a nice sound and feeling! The old 4WD track meanders up and down, round and round, crisscrossing some bogs and straight through others. The boys are having a blast, into every bog possible and disappearing into the scrub only to come out a little further up the track. If they were smiling, it would be from ear to ear!
Eventually the trail gets quite rocky again and we start the decent – apparently I know where I’m going to end up – oh right, now I know, back at the creek. It was actually a fun little loop even if we walked most of it.
After a quick snack, time to get going – can’t delay the inevitable for ever – there are hills that must be climbed – time to head back out. Actually it isn’t that bad, pick the right line, bounce a bit over the boulders but all in all it is pretty good. The creek crossings are all ridable thanks to the earlier rainfall – keeps the water flowing rather than building up into deep holes. Stephen comments that this must be what Jurassic Park would look like – it is truly beautiful in here and climbing out you do notice the bush more so than hooting downhill. There are heaps of Rimu trees – young and old, ferns galore of all sizes and heaps of other native bush. We figure we’re riding up a ridgeline as there is quite the drop-off if you look out to the right of the climb through the bush. Even better reason to make sure you get your lines right and stay on your bike!
The top beckons and pretty soon we are back at the junction – it really is the junction of Jurassic Park and Sherwood Forest – the contrasts are classic. We’ve got a nice meander along through the logged plantation forest before the climb back out of the native forest. The odd bit of “bush lawyer” grabs me – and it hurts! Watch out for that, ouch! As if I didn’t have enough to concentrate on already. Classic.
Stoked though as soon I’m at the top and meandering back down the other side. We noticed a side trail coming in that we hadn’t seen before so decided to see if it lead us anywhere – could be a whole new trail to ride. It turns out to be an old rope road from mining we presume. Gorgeous though, and while reasonably flat, technical at the same time with heaps of tree roots, soft mossy ground and fallen branches to negotiate. We followed it as far as we could – basically until it got too overgrown. It went quite the distance and we were sure we were going to end up meeting one of the forestry roads. Wasn’t to be though, ended in the middle of the forest, in the middle of nowhere so back we headed to the main trail. Nice wee add-on though all the same.
Last downhill and Stephen speeds ahead again. Nico our dalmatian is quite large and I didn’t want him running too fast so I stayed at the back with him so he would just trot rather than run and do himself an injury. He seemed pretty happy to go at a slower pace and I’m sure his joints appreciated it too! Ziggy didnt’ seem to mind the excuse to go a little slower either – it’s been a big day exploring for both of them.
Back to the car, changed and loaded up ready for home. Another great afternoon on the wonderful West Coast. Now where are those apple turnovers, I think we deserve them……..
Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Punakaiki coastline, just north of Greymouth with the help of their faithful companions Nico and Ziggy. They love to get out and explore the wonders of the West Coast so check out their website or blog for other adventures and things to see and do on the West Coast.