Saturday, August 13, 2016

Week 3. Mt Gerald Station, Frozen Pipes, Mackenzie Country

Fri 05.08.16. It snowed all day at Fairlie. Leah's lessons were cancelled at St Josephs School, as half the snowbound students didn't arrive at school. Buses were cancelled due to snowfalls. We glamped in our Talbot Rd lounge beside our log burner. We lunched at Eat cafe. Fairlie & Alpine ranges were covered in snow: Albury, Mt Maud, Mt Edward, Mt Dobson, Sherwood, Mt Fox, Mt Michael, Devils Peak, The Brothers. It snowed all night, 10 cms.

Sat 06.08.16. Leah's Geraldine student lessons were cancelled at St Josephs School due to snowfalls, In our rental, we'd left our fin heater on in the bathroom & kept our log burner going for most of the day & night to stop pipes freezing. We'd had similar freezing winter conditions during last year's big snows in June. The year before 2014, our first year in Mackenzie Country, the winter was mild, no snowfalls in Fairlie.

We lunched at Fairlie Bakery & exchanged books at Mackenzie College Community Library. Throughout the day there were snowfalls, which soon thawed due to scudding clouds, intermittent sunshine & blue skies.

Sun 07.08.16. Before driving back to Mt Gerald Station I turned off our Fairlie rental's Toby (water main tap) to stop water pipes freezing in our absence. Mackenzie Basin was covered in thick snow. Beside Lake Tekapo, Lilybank Rd was icy in places due to compacted snow caused by Round Hill Ski Field traffic.

Our lake house water pipes were frozen, despite our leaving heat pump & fin heaters on in our absence. All water pipes were frozen except bathroom & kitchen cold water pipes. We had no hot water. Our shower didn't work. Over the next couple of days, we bucketed bathroom water to our toilet cistern to enable flushing. We boiled drinking water we'd transported from Fairlie & Lake Tekapo village. We put fin heaters near frozen water pipes to thaw them.

Evening: I TV watched Rio Olympics cycling road races: several burnouts & crashes. Before bed time, as our toilet was bung, I pissed in the snow in our garden. Minus 10 degrees Centigrade.

Mon 08.08.16. Lake house water pipes still frozen. Had to boil bathroom bucketed water to wash dishes in the kitchen sink. School day, Mt Gerald Station.

I walked the icy north bank of Coal River & watched a tractor driver feed hay to cows in the snow. I returned to the lake house via 2 icy streams, snowy cattle, red deer & horse paddocks. I checked out a neighbouring farm house, pipes were frozen too.

Afternoon: I drove along snowy Lilybank Rd to Lake Tekapo School for Leah's computer course. Evening: Return drive to Mt Gerald Station, car's temperature gauge showed outside temp minus 5 degrees Centigrade.

Tue 09.08.16. School day, Mt Gerald Station. Cold water pipes still frozen. Drinking water & dish wash water still being boiled. No shower. Hot water pipes still frozen. Toilet still bung.

I did a 4 hour, 9 km circular walk from Mt Gerald homestead, past snowy cattle & red deer paddocks by Oregon Pine shelter belts up Mt Gerald snowy & icy lower slopes. I wandered through snowy matagouri, shoving pricks aside with my walking stick. I wandered across icy swampland, myriads of icy puddles, Given icy Mt Gerald, no wonder our lake house pipes were frozen.

I watch a circle of ice, about 1 m diameter, swirl round and round in a Mt Gerald Stream eddy. I crossed Mt Gerald Stream, boots & socks sopping the next 3 hours, to a snowy farm track going up Mt Gerald slope to a low moraine ridge & an old fence line. Map ref: BY17 058524. From the ridge I had grand Alpine views of Godley River Valley & Macaulay River Valley.

I followed the snowy fence line between snowy red deer & cattle paddocks to Lilybank Rd & back to Mt Gerald Station homestead.

Meanwhile a plumber arrived to thaw the frozen pipes. He banged pipes, sawed a hole through the decking to find the Toby & left taps on inside & outside the house, to encourage water flow. After two hours most pipes flowed, but it took another day for kitchen hot water to flow. We left taps dripping all night to stop water pipes freezing again. Our heat pump & fin heaters stayed on days & nights, for weeks.

Wed 10.08.16. School day, Mt Gerald Station.

Afternoon: Leah & I went on a 2 hour, 6 km snow & ice walk on Mt Gerald Slopes, a shortened version of my yesterday's walk. On the icy farm track we bounced on a bog bubble covered in frozen alpine plants & grass. How did it form? - Decomposing organic matter? Explosive methane? Hydrogen sulphide?

Evening: I TV watched Rio Olympic highlights: Sevens rugby, hockey, soccer, rowing, cycling on Rio roads, weightlifting, medal ceremonies.

Thurs 11.08.16. School day, Mt Gerald Station. Afternoon: I drove along Lilybank Rd for Leah to teach a student at Lake Tekapo School & for her Pilates class. Afterwards I drove down Burkes Pass to Fairlie for the weekend, the Alps still covered in deep snow.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

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