A hard month of work on the farm had me itching for a little backcountry time. Recently the family had done a short overnight tramp to Kowai stream and I had spent the walk wondering if my 9 year old daughter, Zoe would be up to riding her bike up the rough old 4WD track to the hut.
A term I had picked up recently from a bikepacking website was sub24O, sub 24 hour overnight ride! Boom that's me all over. Combining a full day's riding by a stay at a hut and still being able to knock out a half days work at each end! How convenient.
After packing early afternoon and then waiting for Zoe to get home on the school bus we scoffed sandwiches and headed for the hills. An hour and a half of pretty techy riding, for Zoe with stream bed riding and pushing through prickly matagouri ensued. This was the crux which lead us to come across an evening vista of an alpine basin flanked by the impressive Torrlesse Range and a hut sitting on a little terrace at the confluence of 2 streams.
Clag came piling up the valley at dusk and Zoe's memory of the first night we spent at this hut in a gale force NW lead to some dark moments, she asked "dad, what's the worst thing that could happen to us tonight?". I replied "probably being kept awake by me snoring". After dinner with the fire roaring and the war glow of candles Zoe said "dad, I feel comfortable with you", as all parents can imagine this statement made a smile spread further across my face.
In the morning after the bash on the riverbed and through the scrub, once we were back on the bikes Zoe was fresh, full of confidence enjoying the rocky bits and twisty sections. A descent down the fall line approached and I remember changing my line and hoping she followed me...she didn't and I looked to my left and watched her accelerate, get out of control and fly through the air. Many tears followed but after a dressing on the knee and 10 minutes to collect ourselves we continued.
We arrived back at the road end at 9.30am, drove home and Zoe had a great story to tell her school mates that afternoon. It was such a positive affirmation of parenting and an awesome way in the increasingly tech fuelled lives of our children to be able bond with her in a backcountry setting, some challenges, a touch of adversity and the satisfaction of completing a journey. I cant wait to make more opportunities to do similar adventures with my kids.