Dogs range accessed by the Ashburton Lakes is a true Canterbury high country ride,remote and seldom riden. Two hunters turned up at the hut and treated me. Result a true NZ backcountry hut experience...
The deep, and dark blue water of lake Clearwater made for a stunning warm up. It was short lived with double track turning into technical singletrack through sparse alpine vegetation climbing steadily past 2 tarns. At the intersection to Mystery Lake, which I've heard is well stocked with trout for those hardy few prepared to hike up for a cast, the hike a bike begins.
The next couple of hours are a blur of sweat, delirium and otherworldly mountain vistas. A steep bulldozed track pushed through in the 1950's to access the upper valleys for the most marginal of grazing, long ago retired and left to the few who venture to recreate. This gnarly old double track runs pretty much up the fall line with baby head rocks making anything going up walking and down, white knuckle.
At the the top of the last climb the sound of a distant quad bike came into earshot. Shortly after and while I was preparing for the descent to the next mountain tarn, 2 guys and a heap of gear passed me on the quad bike. It only took me a few minutes to wind them in with the benefit of gravity. 650m to descend to Potts hut.
I arrived at the hut mid afternoon, totally screwed, dehydrated and scorched by the sun. It's an awesome old musters hut. A siesta followed.
I was just thinking of preparing my freeze dried dinner. When the quad bikers turned up w a bottle of 16 year old whiskey under one arm and 2 rifles under the other. Needless to say that in the late afternoon warmth we enjoyed shooting some shit, drank beer and whiskey and ate sausages.
slightly weary in the morning I set off after a hearty breakfast provided by Scott from Methven. A long hike a bike back up onto dogs range ensued with a couple of filming stops thrown in. Once on the ridge the elation grew as I knew I was getting closer to completing another solo backcountry bikepacking mish.
I still had almost 2 hours of descending through rock gardens, Spaniard grasses and tussocks. The head wind grind back along the lake was done w a smug sense of satisfaction and a big grin.