In what has quickly become a mid-week tradition we took for the hills once again. Mt Grey is a little closer to home, so provided us with the perfect opportunity to squeeze in an extra discipline: trail running and mountain biking this week!
Mt Grey, North Canterbury is 15km east from Amberley (Amberley is 47km north of Christchurch). The public access is along Cramptons Bush Road and is usually open although shut when it is high fire danger, high winds or they are logging in the area. You can ring Rayonier Ltd, +64 3 310 7612 and the answerphone will tell you whether the gate is locked.
Walking time is 2-3 hours one way from the Grey River picnic area to the summit.
DOC grade it as an easy walk , but with the top of Mt Grey/Maukatere at 934m don’t go thinking easy means there is no climbing! It is also pretty exposed at the top so you need to be equipped with a warm layer and raincoat, even if it isn’t raining the coat will stop any wind cooling you down too much.
You can go up the Mt Grey/Maukatere Track and back down the Red Beech Track, this is 3-4 hours on the way down. I have done it in the past and it is great making the trip a loop rather than up and back. You finish up just on the other side of the picnic area start point.
Last option is the one Michelle and I did so read on…
Numbers were light this week so it was just Team Hiking New Zealand (Anne, Michelle and Fern – the trail running dog). With bikes on the back of the car, flat whites in our hands we headed into the Ashley Forest. We chose to park at Lake Janet and run down to the Grey River picnic area so we got the road running bit out of the way first.
|The new Innov8 shoes being put through their paces
|I had sparkly new hoof covers (shoes) that I thought might help shorten the gap on the single-track downhill. I thought I would make the first outing for my new shoes a rather long run – usually a beginners mistake, but one I seem to get away with as not a sore foot or blister in sight. Shoes seem to dominate the conversation of late, none seem to last that long, yet switching brands can cause injuries in these post 40-year-old bodies (HPA’s in spirit though – High Performance Athletes). The performance of the new Innov-8s was impressive, I felt like I was essentially glued to the track with every step. Not satisfied with just boring Michelle with the pleasures of running in the new shoes I made her stop and experience the share joy of them herself. Michelle definitely got the good end of the deal, as I tried to think of other things as I slipped my feet into her warm and well-worn shoes. She has since purchased a pair herself in fear of that 'gap' closing too much.
The run/hike to the top was great – the climb is manageable so you can run a large portion of the trail and the track is well established yet still a single track that requires concentration.
The views at the top never cease to impress.
For the downhill section from the trig we headed towards the tower and started down the vehicle access road before dropping off the side and onto a single track that took us down to Lake Janet. The gradient on this section is much steeper but with “new sticky shoes” the gap between Michelle and I was closed!
The transition at the car would have been quick but I couldn’t decide what to do with the dog. Fern loves coming trail running with us but trying to keep up with mountain bikes is too much, I didn’t want to be the bad dog owner that leaves their beloved pet in a hot car nor did I want to tie her up somewhere for someone to realise her ‘cool pet potential’ and take her home. Finally; in her dog box in the car, in the shade, with the windows partially down she sulked about being left behind. Time check: 2 hours 20 minutes since we parked the car.
The cycle took us up the road to the summit and up it went! There were a few breaks from the incline but nothing too steep that you had to get into your lowest gear.
A quick stop to take in the stunning views of Pegasus Bay and a bit of discussion about whether we should take the single track back to the picnic area or the direct route back down the road to the car. Myself, who tends to get sweaty palms at the mere thought of downhill mountain biking suggested it was best to take the shorter route and get back to the dog.
Michelle being the speedster that she is put on her wind jacket for the downhill. I, on the other-hand didn’t need any form of windbreaker. The road back down is perfect for those that love speed as the gravel road has fabulous sweeping bends (if you’re into them).
As I rounded a bend about halfway down Michelle was there waiting for me, my protest of “thanks, but you don’t have to wait for me” was met with the rather cheeky “oh, I just wanted to ride with you to see how slow you actually go.” This is the bit where I'd love to say, I looked her up and down and then fanged it down the hill leaving Michelle in a cloud of dust. Alas, the reality was I continued to give my brakes a good workout whilst running my tongue across my teeth. Anyone who has lost a tooth through sporting endeavours knows it is hard to fang it down any hill without the odd sweep of the tongue to ensure all the ‘pearly whites’ are still in place. That’s not to mention the visions of endless dentists visits and dollar signs flashing before your eyes.
It was a quick ride (in my books anyway) back to the car.
As a group of Mum's juggling children, work and fitness we try and keep every Thursday free to blast out a #midweekmission. Check out the Hiking New Zealand Instagram page as there is always time for a photo or two when we are out there #livingthedream.