Saturday, April 28, 2012

part 4: Kepler Track

After Queenstown Lauren and I caught a bus further south to Te Anau, a little town at the edge of Fiordland National Park. We heaved our food-laden packs onto our backs. Then we set off into the wild. Sort of.
The Kepler is one of NZ's Great Walks - a manicured 40-mile trail up a mountain, along the ridge, and down through the bush. The trail is perfectly clear, and the alpine section even has stairs and handrails. The Department of Conservation offers 3 huts along the way with running water, mattresses, and gas stoves. It's not exactly roughing it.

We'd booked all the huts a few months in advance. But soon we realized that we probably could have done the whole track in three days instead of four. Each day we started at 9:00 and reached the next hut at around 2:00 with plenty of time to sit around and scratch our sandfly bites.

Still. That's not to say that the experience wasn't astoundingly beautiful.

We had amazing weather at the first hut, which sits up above the town of Te Anau.
We did some casual caving that night.
At this point, we realized we should've packed matches and hiking-friendly food. The fresh carrots and canned tuna seemed like such a good idea at the beginning. But they turned out to be really heavy and smelly. Thankfully our packs got lighter as we got down to eating. And there were lots of friendly Germans on the trail who were willing to share their matches.

We had a fantastic sunrise view the next morning. I took at least twenty thousand pictures of it.
Then we headed off to walk the alpine section in mystical fog.
I wore those compression tights for four days. Not a good idea.
The next two days were an easy downhill walk through the bush back to town.
The last hut was on the side of another ridiculously lovely NZ lake, where we attempted to wash some grime off ourselves.
And the next day we stumbled back into the civilized world (aka: where you can buy cake).

It was a pretty good time. 

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