Friday, January 30, 2009

Kepler Track - Day 3

It was really hard to get going on the morning of Day 3. Craig still had a bad knee, but the lady needed her walking pole back, so he had to resort to making his own out of a tree branch. I was covered in open wounds from where my backpack had been rubbing :( and it wasn't long before my legs started to feel the pain of walking so much downhill the previous day. My sister still seemed fighting fit though - but she is a super fit freak anyway.

Day 3 was the last day of the trek, and although it was longer distance wise, at least there were not too many ups and downs. We were back in the forest now, the path meandering by the river and lakeside.

Above is the Iris Burn Hut where we spent the night. Nice hut but full of sand flies!

The 'Big Slip' - a landslide that occurred back in 1984.

This river seemed a bit dry!

Weird tree.

A New Zealand (South Island) Robin - Craig and I spent ages with two of these curious birds who came up very close to us. Below is some of my very bad footage (before I ran out of memory).

Craig loved the prehistoric looking forest - we had lots of pit stops for photo opportunities for his dinosaur blog. The breaks were killing me though - Craig made me a staff too as my legs were screaming in agony by the afternoon.

Unfortunately I ran out of camera memory, so the following photos are actually ones Craig took for me.

The river estuary coming out into Lake Manapouri.

Lake Manapouri.

We finally arrived at Moturau Hut, a lovely hut on the beach by Lake Manapouri. My mum came running up to meet us as we took a break here. How I wish we had opted to stay the night here! Unfortunately there was a further 6km walk ahead - which was pretty much all I could manage. This part of the track I had walked several times before so I didn't mind so much that I couldn't take anymore photos.

We finally got to Rainbow Reach at 7.30pm (so we had taken about 10.5hrs to walk the 22km from Iris Burn to Rainbow Reach). 2km an hour is a pretty poor pace to be honest! It was nice to get home and have a hot shower though - although we were promptly dragged out to a friend's barbecue.

So I had completed the Kepler Track, my first multi-day trek in New Zealand. It was great fun, but bloody hard work too. I did come away with a great sense of achievement though. Next time I might try the Routeburn Track!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Kepler Track - Day 2

Day 2 began relatively early, as lots of the other backpackers started rummaging around the bunk room and woke us up. We left Luxmore Hut around 9ish after a camper's breakfast of muesli bars and tea, and began what we thought would be a somewhat easier walk than yesterday - at least that was what it looked like on the map....

The morning began quite overcast, although it soon brightened up.

Luxmore Hut from further up the mountain path.

The peak of Mount Luxmore - we steadily climbed round and up almost to the top. We didn't opt to leave the path and climb all the way up, for reasons made clear below....

Unfortunately about half an hour into the day, as we began climbing Mt Luxmore, Craig's knee suddenly gave way. Luckily a passing trekker lent Craig one of her walking poles for the day - otherwise I don't think he would have made it.

A rest stop with a view.

Quick - hide from the Ringwraiths!

The walk today was mainly along the alpine ridges - usually Anne was miles in front, I was in the middle, and Craig was miles behind. At least being so exposed we could all still see each other, even from the other side of the mountain ridges...

One of the negatives about being spaced so far apart from each other was having to take awful self portraits like this one...

Craig having a much needed break.

The path goes up...

The small black dot is Craig.

Finally we start the downhill slog...

Unfortunately it involved climbing down several precarious staircases like this. Not fun when you have a massive backpack on making you very top heavy - I'm glad it wasn't windy!

All the staircases - with Craig at the very top.

Lake Manapouri in the distance. (Where we will be tomorrow.)

After this view point, we reached the bush line, and went steeply downhill through forest once more. I was keeping up with Anne now, but we lost Craig altogether. We would have stopped for him to catch up, but I was also in agony by this point - my legs do not like steep downhills, and I'd developed open pressures sores across my hips from the rather ill-fitting backpack.

We came from up there somewhere...

All in all, Day 2 was definitely the toughest day. What should have taken us about 6 hours, from Luxmore Hut to Iris Burn Hut, ended up taking us about 10hrs. Anne and I reached the Hut a good hour before Craig, dumped our stuff and had a quick break before going back up the hill to see if we could find him. After dinner, we were all so exhausted we collapsed to our bunks by about 8.30pm.