Friday, October 27, 2023

Day 7 Harahari to Fox Glacier

Distance 97 km
Time 5 hours 30 minutes
Travel Modalities: cycling, walking as mandated by law.
My windows are frosty when I depart. I am reminded of living in Napier.
I make the foolish mistake of wearing my regular socks. I am afraid I have frostbite, so I stop to change. It is even colder during the 10 seconds I am barefoot. I wish I had non-waterproof warm socks.
Still cold, I decide to push a little harder than in previous days. Minimal gravel, it's not a steep day. With effort, the bike goes 24 kmh. The wide tires, the baggage, and my exhaustion level are conspiring to make this a long day.
I stop at the first cafe/convenience store/souvenir shop (30k away) because nothing was open in Harihari when I left. I regret it as soon as I'm back on the bike and swear off flat whites and pies until Queenstown.
I pass a couple of lakes and stop at one so that nobody will reprimand me for skipping an important lake. I hope I picked the correct lake. The sandflies attack and I flee.
I cannot stop taking pictures of snow.
My info says Franz Josef Glacier is no longer worth seeing and I should go to Fox Glacier. I check into the (government) info center and the ranger does her best to not admit this. She tells me the smoke/ash from the Aussie fires discolored both glaciers and caused them to reflect less light. Which I guess is bad for glacier health. She warns me about the climbs I have ahead, which her cycling friends call the triple bypass.
I force myself to eat before said climbs. I realize I ate this exact same dish in the same restaurant the last time I was in Franz Josef. Nico probably ordered it.
I stop at the bottom of the first hill to remove clothes and to take a picture of my favourite road sign ever.
I stop at the top of the third hill to put clothes back on. I am beyond cold on the way down.
I check into the hotel and lighten up the bike as the (Fox) glacier is past town. 500 m from the closest viewing point I'm supposed to lock up my bike. But the lock i've been carrying for 400 miles is in the hotel. I walk the bike and hope I won't be arrested.
Last time I was here, you could touch the glacier. People were complaining that 10 years prior, the trail followed the glacier for 2 km. It is still stunning.
I'm terrified of bridges but force myself to photograph it on the way back.

The receptionist at the hotel recommends one restaurant over the other three in town. This is unusual behavior for a Kiwi and I wonder if she has a stake in the restaurant. I order a lot of food. The potato leek soup is excellent. The lamb ragout grows on me.

The GPS split today's ride in half.

No comments: