After three long days of dodging bad weather and doing more driving than riding, we were gaining ground. We were heading up the pass through the Southern Alps towards the Canterbury high country, the home of popular ski fields just outside of Christchurch.
With nothing but riding on everyone's mind, we headed straight to Cheeseman Peak ski field for the afternoon. Sitting at just over 6,000ft, Cheeseman is known for its open rolling terrain and epic landscapes. We snaked our way through single-track surrounded by the native bush just before dusk. These were the conditions we had been dreaming of since arriving in New Zealand. After the first post-ride beer was cracked, we were faced with the realization that the next day would be early morning. Joey and Thomas had that look in their eyes, they were scheming up a plan for dawn.
|Today I rallied the troops. 4am wakeup call and we were on our way back up to the top of Cheeseman ski field. The hike up was brutal, but we were instantly rewarded with a stunning sunrise upon our arrival to the summit. Now to go down. Steep, full speed scree shredding. I had never ridden anything quite like it. - Joey Schusler|
|3/10/15 - woke up today at 3:30am with a fever and night sweats before our 4am departure. Climbing up the fire road felt like the most soul sucking, pain fueled 2 hours of my life. Dry heaving about every 200ft I made it to the base of the scree field. I couldn't move, I hunkered down while the crew pushed on. The fear of missing a shot is the most frustrating part of my job, but days like today have to happen every so often to give yourself a solid reminder that it's all about the experience. - Paris Gore|
"Spelunking" or "caving" was a nearby road side attraction for many summer travelers.
Established in 1857 Flock Hill Station is a high country farm nestled in the heartland of the Southern Alps and where we found comfort after every ride. It was like summer camp in the mountains. We stayed in the bunkhouse, cooked meals in a communal kitchen, and laid in the grass listening to hundreds of sheep in the nearby field until dark.
From shingle scree fields to beautiful beech forests, Craigieburn ski field offers a variety of terrain as the single track drops you from the ski lift to the root covered forest floor. In the winter, Craigieburn is operated by a non-profit organization of enthusiastic club members and seasonal staff. It exists solely for the purpose to fuel the passion of the mountains. We would say it accomplishes the same in the summer.
Our time in the mountains was up, we were back in the RV, back on the road, and back on this crazy journey heading south to Queenstown.
Alex “KrunkShox” McGuinnis
Photos: Paris Gore, and Joey Schusler
Film: Joey Schusler and Thomas Woodson
Words by: Mallory Burda, Team Managerwww.smithoptics.com