Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 5 Fox Glacier to Lake Paringa: limping along.

 day 5 started out very bad. When I woke, I made it about 20 steps before the pain in my right Achilles flared its mean head.  As we were packing, Drew kept eyeing me, trying to figure out if we could start the day or if we should just call it off and chill in Fox for a day.  I kept a brave face, but honestly, i was gave myself a 50% chance of even starting.  Something told me the wise thing to do would be to hang out and play games all day - no walking or cycling allowed. Tendonitis treatment includes ice and stretching, but the only way to actually heal is non-use.  But i really wanted to keep us moving, so I suited up for the road. The weather was almost drizzle-y, and I had a very hard time getting going, even after a large long white coffee with the nice couple from Iowa and a chap from the Isle of Man, all bike touring as well.

Drew was my mule today. He carried everything heavy.  All I had to carry was my clothes, the tent, and my sleeping bag. He had all the food, bike gear, guidebooks, and misc junk.  Easily a shift of 10 pounds off me, in an effort to just get me to the next overnight.  Even so, as we headed out of town, with a fresh tube of muscle menthol cream and 800 mg of ibuprofen, I was pedaling at a snail's pace.
The scenery was mostly forest, but once in a while we would pop out to the ocean, and that has cool. Here is Bruce Bay.

Luckily for us, the weather actually improved throughout the day, and by pedaling only the very minimal amount with big Drew blocking the wind 100% of the way, by 25 km I was feeling ok to keep going.  At one point, I even imagined we could make it all the way to Haast, following our original plan.  However, by about 50 km, the sharp pain was back, so we pulled into the Salmon farm and cafe to find some ice and eat the freshest salmon I have ever had.  I lovely couple from Iowa that we met in Fox had suggested a salmon, red onion, and cream cheese panini, so I was eager to try it.

As we waited for our food and watched the salmon swim below the deck,
, Drew's sunglasses went overboard!

Oh no! You  can't cycle without sunglasses.  The staff was so helpful in getting them back.

Our lunch came and the panini was the bomb. Couple the yummy food with a flat white and ice on the tendon and I was good to go.  Back out on the road, though, another 60 km was not feasible, so we opted for Lake Paringa Lodge, a small, ultra quiet fishing lodge on the shore of tranquil Lake Paringa run by a nice gentleman named Ken.

With many hours to kill, we rented kayaks.

Apparently, pulling me all the way from Fox to Paringa carrying a good part of the load was too much for Drew, so he opted to turn back after 20 minutes, but I continued on, unencumbered by my bad foot all the way around the big lake.  I was out for a good 2.5 hours, checking out the clear but  brown water.  I am guessing that because the lake is surrounded by lush, thick, semi-tropical forest and it rains here something like 6 meters a year, the lake water is full of tannins, which makes it brown.

Whatever the case, I was fascinated by areas where fresh water entered the lake.  The rivers here are super clear.  I found one rather large inlet and was able to paddle up it quite a ways, dodging downed trees and small rapids.

Strangely, there were not many signs of life.  Few water birds, not many fish jumping, not that many aquatic plants, and the weird brown clear water all gave me an erie feeling.  The vegetation on the banks was plenty lush, though, and I could hear lots of birds.

There was no restaurant at this place, so we subsisted on our leftover salami, cheese, pb&j, and a chocolate muffin we had bought at the salmon farm.  The community kitchen had two jars of Vegemite in the fridge, so of course I had to try it.  Now, I have a very easy to please palate, especially after biking, but Vegemite is not for the masses.  It is really just salty yeast.  Who ever thought that would be good to eat? It was gross, and it takes a lot for me to call food gross.

Another first today was to see a dead New Zealand possum on the side of the road.  I didn't get a picture for you though. Possums here are a big problem. NZ has no native land mammals except a few bats.  Somewhere along the line, possums were introduced.  Now they are a major pest. So major, in fact, the government aerial drops poison to kill them.  It is a big debate weather or not this is a good idea.

The accommodations were very spacious, clean and very comfortable.  If we had to be waylaid somewhere, this was a relaxing place to be.

With ibuprofen, an ice pack from the owner, and more stretching, I was hoping tomorrow would be a better day on the bike.

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