(January 5, 2021 – written by Dave)
There was no rain overnight at the Corinna wilderness lodge camping but still this morning everything seemed a tad damp. Being right on the river, in the narrow rainforest strip was nice, but it probably never really dries out. We got things hanging while we ate brekkie but tent and sleeping bag still went away a little damp – a chore for later in the day.
We enjoyed brekkie with Edda and her parents. Edda is the lovely 2 year old who kept us awake the night before last. We got to know her and her parents a bit during our stay and they are all very nice. I predicted correctly that Edda’s second night in the tent would go much better and I think to her father’s surprise it actually did. Everyone was happier this morning (well, at least until she fell off the bench on the picnic table, as 2-year olds often do).
The first ferry – or should I say barge – over the river is at 9am and we were in the queue ready to cross. Actually, we were the queue. A couple cars were waiting on the other side but we were the only passengers for the first crossing today.
We’d read a lot about the steep climb away from the ferry but the ferryman told us that if we’d ridden in on the Western Explorer (we did), that the ferry climb would be a breeze. I tried to get his name and employee ID number just in case but he refused. It turns out that the climb was hard, with a couple bits over 15 degrees but all the steep bits were sealed and with fresh legs, we both rode the entire climb. And, he was correct – there were much harder climbs coming into Corinna so thankfully, there was no need to follow-up with the Corinna HR department.
We thought we’d heard that there was 10k more gravel after the ferry but it turned out that it was 10k after the ferry that the gravel ended. Given that the climb was 5k long and entirely sealed, that meant we only had 5k more gravel to ride for the entire day. Happy days.
We had almost no traffic today again. There was one car out from the ferry, then no more for a long spell. We ended up counting four cars for the entire day, which has to be some kind of record – for those keeping track. We thought we’d get more traffic after we left the Tarkine Forest, out on the main road C249. But other than a couple guys from the nearby wind farm, it was virtually car free.
We were both felling sluggish riding today, the legs seemed to still be tired from the other day. That meant we slowed more for hills. It could have been the winds as well, being generally a head wind. We were supposed to ride onwards to Strahan but we were both independently thinking of pulling up short in Zeehan.
About 5k from Zeehan we met a couple cyclists coming the other way – Craig and Kim. To our surprise, they had matching Lynskey bikes just somewhat older than ours. They had ridden up from Strahan and said that getting there would be easy – they seemed to be pretty fresh. We had a nice roadside meeting exchanging information with them. The only trouble was that after they left, we started to re-think our re-thinking of stopping in Zeean and continue on to Strahan.
In the end, we stopped in Zeehan. We found a nice caravan park with a cheap donga and we needed to get cleaned up, dried out and get some laundry done. If we’d gone onto Strahan, we would have gotten in later and felt more rushed. Strahan will wait for tomorrow.
Zeehan is an odd little town. It is/was a mining town but clearly it has seen better days. Many shops and businesses in town are boarded up and there are many buildings for sale. Many of the houses appear to be almost abandoned. We learned from a gal at the store that some of the mines are still going but that a few had closed. Clearly, those that are open require fewer workers than they used to. Population today is 728, in 1910, it was over 10,000. There is a pioneer museum here that gets great reviews but we ran out of time this arvo and had to settle just walking around and looking at the old buildings – still a fun exercise.
So, tomorrow, we have a short, more down than up, ride to Strahan. Craig and Kim gave us advice on where to get the best lobster – a specialty of Strahan – so we’re all set for an easy day with more food intake than calories burned. Sounds perfect as here in Zeehan, the dwindling population and business closures has created a bit of a food desert.