23-24th September 2017
By Kerry Clapham
Participants: Kerry Clapham, Andre Le Lievre, Ruth McKie
With one week to go before consortium applications closed, we were made aware of Worsley Biv. A bit of Thursday / Friday night banter and Andre, Ruth and I somehow managed to talk ourselves into a quick 20km bike ride followed by a 5km walk up to Worsley biv (and then the same return). The only problem with this plan is the fact we all had to stay in Christchurch Saturday (instead of bush ball) due to other things we couldn’t miss. This inevitably meant that the leaving time (from chch) was identified to be 3pm.
After negotiating delayed flights, Election Day traffic and hectic supermarkets we managed to reach the road end at 7:30pm. At this point, we dismounted the bikes from the car in the cool wind flowing directly down the valley. Instead of arriving in the dark we set off in the dark. To begin with, Ruth battled away trying to get a reliable lighting system in operation, we loaded Andre up with as many tools as possible and I learnt how to ride a mountain bike for the first time.
The first section of track is notoriously hilly. Andre typically had a keen approach where he would cycle all the way up the hill without stopping. Ruth and I would typically take a slightly different approach, we would cycle till the gradient reached a maximum threshold then dismount and walk. Watching the white light of Andre ahead was like watching a one-dimensional horror movie. The higher the white dot appeared above us on the y-axis the higher we knew the hill would be.
At about 10pm Andre got a flat tyre. After a snack stop, we got back on our bikes again, to then encounter a very steep rocky section. Ruth leading the way had the unfortunate experience of going OTB (biking slang for over the bar apparently). Luckily the hilly section was over fairly quickly after the ordeal and we hit Aeroplane Flat and Rabbit Flat. We made good progress across the flats however tiredness was most definitely beginning to set in. After Rabbit flat, the track veered into the beach forest and crossed over a small creek.
After refilling our water bottles we admired the copious quantity of firewood in the creek bed and eyed up the old beach terraces nearby for camping opportunities. As it was close to 11 pm we decided to call it a night. We cooked up our super lightweight dehy meals and warmed up by the fire. It was all pretty epic till we busted out the trusty AM radio to hear the election results… The results were about as exciting as clicking our clocks forward an hour realising that we only had 4hrs sleep ahead.
We left the campsite at around 7:30am and continued on our now slightly lighter journey upstream. Near Casey Stream Ruth’s breakfast was kicking in and there was some serious thinking happening. Ruth proposed that she should head on up to Trust / Poulter Hut at her own pace and Andre and I should boost on ahead and do crazy Worsley Biv stuff. It was a tough call, which Andre and I debated for the following hour or so after agreeing to it – but in hindsight, it was probably quite a stroke of genius by Ruth. Splitting up meant that Ruth had a leisurely more enjoyable trip – and Andre and I managed to do a comprehensive biv inspection.
Leaving the flats beside Casey Campsite (what a crime of a name – Casey Hut sounds much better) there is a large change in terraces. In hindsight, it was a tad naive to think that I could get a run-up and attempt it. Halfway up the bank, my kinetic energy had fully been converted to gravitational potential energy resulting in me awkwardly falling off. Somehow I got terribly caught up in my bike seat completely shredding my nylon shorts. Continuing on we descended back down towards the flats again. At the flats the 4WD track split into two, one track slightly overgrown with orange triangles, and one more well-used track heading directly towards the river. In a spur of the moment decision, Andre and I debated the route to take and headed along the one with track markers. Eventually, the track narrowed into more of an underutilised foot track. The fit mountain biking extraordinaire Andre went ahead and did this kind of bunny hop technique where he smashed down small fallen rotten beach poles lying across the track. Andre and I reached Poulter at 10am.
We dropped off our bikes and started the 5km powerwalk part of the mission. We marched (yeah it wasn’t necessarily a leisurely pace) up to the Biv contemplating why we had chosen such a punishing mission. Approaching Worsley Biv the valley narrows a bit and becomes more epic (kind of like Avoca really). Opposite the Biv there is a pretty choice waterfall in-amongst the beach trees.
The hut is a bit scary in its similarities with Avoca. There’s a creek out the front, A-frame design, needing a repaint, dull fibreglass skylight and plenty of encroaching trees. Post-trip looking at it there wasn’t much change from a photo taken in front of it in 2007 – ten years ago. The mangled tin at the end of the hut was still mangled, the flaked paint was still peeling. The most dramatic change was the saplings, they were now three meters taller.
Anyway, there wasn’t much time to look around, Andre and I got straight into it doing a measure up. We whipped the materials out from under the hut and ripped the panel under the bunk to do a stock take of what was onsite. With one of us doing a stock take the other ripped the ridge cap off the munted side of the hut. The idea was to assess the condition of the internal timber. We found the ridge board had actually snapped, which made the whole exercise worthwhile. Elsewhere there were other discoveries of neglect. Below the discoloured old skylight, the iron had begun rusting significantly (more so than the small patches of rust found elsewhere on the roof). The long drops’ roof was also very rusty.
After taking photos and measurements we whipped the ridge cap back on and had the worlds quickest lunch. Lunch comprised of oily rolls filled with almond chocolate – the perfect combination of fat energy and carbohydrate to begin our return trip down the valley. Although we only spent two hours at the hut we were slightly behind schedule and were worrying about Ruth down the valley waiting for us. With that thought, we took one last look at the hut and began the return marathon. We ran back down past Poulter hut passing just 100m away from it. Andre had reserved bagging Poulter for another trip – such dedication! Even though I had been there before my internal hut compass was spinning wondering how I had walked past a hut twice in one day without calling in to say hi – but compromised were made, this was a limited time trip.
Heading down the valley we had a tailwind and downhill gradient giving us a helping hand. Hitting the bikes the chocolate roll had sunk in quite nicely and I set off in a cracker un-sustainable pace. As a newbie to biking, I was yet to learn the hard way that for some reason you can tire yourself out without feeling any sort of pain whatsoever. Looking behind us a couple of times we felt a few drops of rain and witnesses clouds rolling down the valley.
We meet Ruth at the camping spot at 3pm. After recharging her batteries for a couple of hours swatting sandflies Ruth leapt into action sprinting off down the valley to get a head start. At this point, I think Andre and I were both feeling discharged, kind of hoping a second lunch would top up the energy levels. We sat there eating with a very surprisingly low banter level.
Back on the bikes, we headed off attempting to catch up with Ruth (although we did exchange enough banter to agree that it was probably a lost cause). Cycling in daylight was like doing the whole trip again. The hills that we battled with on the way in looked significantly larger on the way out. On the trip in my chain derailed a few times, but when hitting the hills on the way out it was now continuously derailing. At the steep rocky section where Ruth previously went OTB; Andre pretty much bailed on the way out, hitting a rock with the back tyre causing him to fly backwards.
We meet Ruth back at the carpark about five minutes after she arrived. 5:30pm Arrival at the carpark meant the total trip time was 20hrs – it would have been a much more pleasant experience without the daylight saving change, but the evening sun was appreciated. There were consequences of such a short trip. Andre announced on Sunday night “I broke Kerry” – what an accurate description! I’m not sure I’ve ever reached such a high peak of tiredness before!