We woke up to another gorgeous day with golden light shining across the valley. It was cold but more like 6 to 8 degrees.
Yesterday afternoon Darb pointed out Bethune mountain and that we are going over it first thing in the morning. It looked steep!
Here’s the climb on a graph… 400 metres over just roughly 3.5 kilometres wth grass and rocks.
We first climbed up out of Jones River camp and then through a private property with a gate at the bottom of Bethune mountain.
We pretty much pushed the whole way up. At various times we zigg-zagged to reduce the gradient.
On a positive note, as we got higher, the view just got better on this beautiful day.
Bethune mountain had a couple of false summits though. You’d push hard to finish the climb only to discover it’s a small plateau before she goes straight up again!
We rested on one and enjoyed the view.
It was hard work pushing a heavily packed fat bike up this mountain. I also have arthritis in my right ankle with a limited range of movement, this made it tough for me but I drew strength again from my grandfathers war heroics and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
At the top, the view was worth it. We lapped it up.
We continued on following the markers, it got rougher with more rocks at this point, at times we split into various different lines.
We passed a tree with markers pointing left and right but we decided to follow our GPS plot straight into long grass down a steep slope instead.
I got quite concerned about snakes but luckily we had no serious problems.
We followed different lines down the steep slope. I tried to stick close to Eric and Darb but ended up in a difficult situation where it was just too steep so I just kept a good eye on the GPS plot. I started feeling exhausted and stopped at a log that was in my way.
Warning!! Foul language! > Click here for a short video of where I stopped and gathered myself.
From here I kept running into multiple spider webs. I ended up using sticks to pull the spider webs down while trying to hold my heavy bike. It all added to the adventure.
When I got through the worse of it, I could see Darb and Eric down the bottom rolling towards a gate.
Once through the gate we got back onto the trail at a nice gravel road.We sat down and spent some time picking all the thistles off our legs and shoes.
By now my shoe covers were ripped and ruined so I decided to ditch them and dispose of them when we got into the next town.
We then followed some quiet gravel roads over some undulating hills through nice farmland.
It was a pretty hot day now, the sun was pretty intense. Even the sheep were in the shade.
We soon turned off the main road through a locked gate onto a bushy track. There were some nice looking black berry shrubs at this gate so we had another free snack.
Things kept getting tough. If we weren’t going up we were going down on rough loose terrain. We had to push a fair bit and get our breath back at the top of each climb.
We reached a grassy plateau hoping we were at the top again. The view to each side was impressive.
On the other side, the trail went up steep again. More pushing. I felt a little exhausted and rested my head on the bike seat.
At the top we got to another grassy plateau, a much bigger one. The flat riding was a relief. We went through a few gates.
The views in all directions up here was typically awesome for Tasmania.
Before today I always felt strong on the trail but now I was feeling weak. Click on this link for a short video of me having a whinge.
Now it was downhill for a while with gorgeous views, the smile quickly came back to my dial.
This valley is known as ‘the jungle’. The official origin of the name refers to a number of workers huts but one wonders if it was influenced by the jungle look of the hop vines in full leaf.
We got back onto a main gravel road and cruised towards Bushy Park via Styx River. Darb was rolling downhill on one section when he started getting hit in the face with white liquid. He quickly realised it was tyre sealant from his tubeless tyre. A sharp triangular shaped rock had wedged itself into the tyre, too savage for sealant. He pulled out the tubeless tyre repair kit that our good friend Nic had supplied and got to work.
Darb’s repair worked first go, well done mate!
We then crossed Styx River and rolled downhill into Bushy Park.
Bushy Park describes itself as the hop capital of Tasmania. It is a charming, small village where 19th century houses, deciduous trees and hopfields combine to give it a decidedly English feel.
We stopped at the local shop and smashed some chocolate milk down, the day was getting on but we still had a big climb to do. The lady in the shop offered to give me a massage but I thought she would be better at serving food.
So off we went. The views of Derwent valley were magnificent again.
These llamas looked dismayed at our fat tyres, especially the green ones!
As the base of the ascent of Black Hills Road came into view, we stopped and took our layers off. This climb has 500 metres of elevation gain and our legs were very tired.
The road was littered with these pretty flowers.
I really enjoyed the climb, the gradient was kind and my body found a good rhythm. Once at the top I rested in the shade.
We then had a tremendous descent that felt like ages with views of Mount Wellington. Click here for a short video I made on the lower tarmac part of the descent.
We camped at the trotting track that night as recommended by the Tasmanian Trail guidebook. Eric as usual got a warm fire going in a drum we found. Well done Eric!
That night we had the best sunset on the trip, we sat back around the warm fire and soaked it up.
Today we rode 55 kilometres and climbed 1,397 metres of elevation gain.
With the steep push up Bethune Mountain, the battle through thick scrub, the several steep pinch climbs towards Bushy Park and then a huge climb in the afternoon, I would rate this day as 9 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.