Slept a bit later this morning due to getting in late the night before, thankfully it hadn't rained overnight, being so close to the highway I had been woken a few times in the night by passing trucks. I had an appetizing breakfast of creamed rice and an orange, during this time I was passed by the early risers who had stayed at the Jacksons camping ground. The morning was sunny and cool when I set off up SH73 riding into the sunrise
Sunrise at Jacksons.
The 18km to Otira was the usual struggle to get moving, I stopped at the Otira Hotel for a coffee and a packet of chocoade biscuits. Martin and Alistair were at the hotel and had both decided to pull the pin, they had had a hard time getting through Big river and were both carrying injuries, I wished them well and left them there waiting for the bus. As I was rolling out of Otira the train came through with no less than 5 locomotives pulling.
I had passed the official half way point sometime the night before but crossing the main divide felt more like a natural half way point, Arthurs Pass was as expected, steep with a mixture of riding and walking, interrupted by the kea that tried to eat my rear tyre at the lookout, the anemometer on the viaduct was motionless. I had seen Paul pass me at Otira, I cuaght him at a cafe in Arthurs Pass and had a proper breakfast. Paul hit the road and I want back down the road to the Sanctuary where I used the coin operated shower, $4 for 12 minutes. I knew Porters Pass was higher than Arthurs Pass but I was unprepared for how lumpy the terrain was between the two, I began to dread each river crossing as you had to invariably drop to the bottom of a gorge only to have to climb your way out again. Landmarks like Mt Horrible, Mt Misery and Broken Hill were appropriate with Broken hill just about living up to it's name.
Climb beside Lake Grassmere.
Somewhere past Flock Hill the weather packed in, the wind came up and it didn't matter which way I was facing it was into the wind, the rain then started which turned the climb to Porters Pass into a complete grovel. The wind finally turned on the downhill run into Springfield. I had thought about making a push to the Wharfedale Hut, but on stopping in Sheffield realised I was knackered. I grabbed the last cabin at the pub which was a bit like the crooked house that Jack built, but most importantly was clean and dry,
Huts at Sheffield, mine was back left.
Brett had stopped there as well and was suffering from the cold ride over Porters. I had an excellent steak for dinner while watching the Eagles and then Fleetwood Mac on the big screen, The Sheffield Hotel was another fine example of small town hospitality and the locals seemed genuinely interested in what we were doing, if a little bemused as to why. I ended the day trying to get the washing I had done earlier dry by the heater. Day 5 about 127km in 12 hours.