I had been looking forward to this trip for some time – a true ‘out of the way’ ride with stunning backcountry scenery – although I admit I had some apprehension. While the trail is near to Hanmer Springs, I would be cycling alone at altitude, away from roads, with no mobile coverage, rivers to ford and a storm due to hit the following day; it was not a ride to take lightly. You get my apprehension, right? So along with my GPS units to map the trail for the Great Rides App, I took my Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). The PLB I had yet to use. Well … I should say that I had not even taken it out of its packaging! I hoped I would not have to unpack this tiny yellow device, appropriately named ‘Rescue Me’, on this ride.

The waterfall that is fed by the Princess Bath with Mt Princess (2126m) behind

It’s a cool morning, the weather is prefrontal. While really wishing to stay overnight on the trail, I elect to complete the trail in a day as the rest of the week’s forecast is for heavy persistent rain. I am dropped at the start of the ride by Andrew of St James Journeys; his Land Rover Defender seems like the perfect vehicle in this tough environment. I wave goodbye to him, and in a few short moments I enter the wilderness pedalling along a 4WD track towards a pass on the St James Range.

Freewheeling off the pass down to the river

Beside me winds a clear babbling brook. My eyes follow its curves upstream towards its source near the skyline. Off to the side, behind a patch of beech forest, I spot a grand waterfall that cascades off a rocky terrace that is fed from the idyllic sounding tarn called the ‘Princess Bath’. It seems odd to have such a regal name for a backcountry lake. I don’t think there have been many princesses lazing about in those freezing waters.


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