Day 20: Ross to Franz Joseph
Distance 108km. Ascent 808m. Pies 1 in Harihari 9/10
Today's forecast wasn't great, but it wasn't meant to be windy. I procrastinated too long so didn't leave Ross until 9am. Shane the 70km/day guy left before me after a 4 day stay to recover his energy, mine seems to be fine... so, turning on my rear light I head off down the main road.
I soon catch Shane who is chatting with his partner by phone, so I pass him. The route has taken us parallel to the highway on a gravel back road. I see a hint of blue sky, but dark clouds are building up and soon the rain sets in. I'm being constantly passed by motorbikes and later learn that there is the Burt Munroe memorial gathering in Invercargill this weekend, to remember the subject of the movie The World's Fastest Indian.
I pull into Harihari in the continuing rain for a pie. While shedding some gear, I strike up conversation with a retired woman traveling the Coast with an old school friend. Turns out she knows the parents of a friend from near Reparoa. As I sidle up to the pie warmer to inspect the offerings, she volunteers to buy me a 2nd breakfast for the good work I'm doing. It was very sweet of her. She is pleased she can help support the struggling local economy and I am pleased she is so generous. I realise that I've whiled away much time in the pleasant company of Kate & Lesley when Shane enters the premises, so I push on into more rain.
I pull into the next village and find shelter by the public toilets. While I'm eating, the rain actually stops and I stand in the sun enjoying its warmth. One benefit of the rain is that there are numerous waterfalls along the road edge, often hidden by ferns. I think rain is God's way of cleaning up the scenery.
I pass a couple of lakes but it's not tempting to swim. I'm wearing leggings, but my muscles get cold on the downhill sections and take a while to respond for the inevitable ascents.
Franz Joseph comes into view so I decide to call it a day, there are some big hills before Fox 23km further on and I want to get my gear dry. I find accommodation that offers not only a bed, but soup then breakfast.
As I settle in, I spy 2 bikes set up as mine is. I meet the owners, Bill & Ruth, and we spend a very pleasant evening chatting. They too have come from Cape Reinga and have had some great experiences along the way. They wisely have decided to wait this wet weather out so are staying another night here. They generously gave me 3 eggs which will help fuel the legs for what may be a big day tomorrow.