After the Kepler

Trip Start Jan 14, 2008
Trip End Feb 21, 2008

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Whew! After finally getting off the Kepler Track, we are now in Te Anau library, typing this blog entry for all our friends to see. The Kepler was really great because we upgraded the final campsite to a hut, and we didn't have to carry our tents (we left them in Te Anau). The most exciting point of this tramp was the second day, where we battled 80 KPH winds (about 48 MPH) to cross Forest Burn saddle. After that, the trip was a bit of an anticlimax, although we discussed topics including races from Lord of the Rings, the Eee PC (an ultra-cheap laptop), and ways of making US$1000 (this means a thousand US dollars). Thanks to Dave Perrin for the election infromation, and keep sending it, Dave! There's not really much to be said (by me) after all this, so I'll turn it over to Mom.

As Sidney mentioned, our tramp on the Kepler Track in Fiordland National Park took us high over the fiords of Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri. Day 2 was definitley the most spectacular and exciting for all of us--4 hours above tree line, walking along the narrow spine of an alpine saddle. Although there was cloud cover, it was high enough so we could see the tops of all the surrounding peaks, and we summitted one, Mt. Luxmore. The last hours of that day dropped sharply through a green, green hanging valley thick with ferns, beech, and moss.

Since this was our first tramp staying in huts, and since we didn't carry tents or sleeping pads, our packs were relatively light. New Zealanders typically use the huts instead of tents; it's a different experience than camping out--a little like being in a tour group with no leader or schedule, just with everyone having the same itinerary. The first night there were 60 trampers in the hut; not one empty bunk. All around us there was scenery that could have been a set for the Lord of the Rings, but on our fourth and last day of the tramp, we actually did pass the location where, in the film, Frodo and friends were sent on in boats by the elves down a broad, swift, and flat river--a lovely spot.

It truly  IS a small world--on the tramp we ran into a recent Dartmouth grad who knew several NOC instructors. And for my family in Vermont, if you run into Theodore or Andrea Ambrose, please tell them we ran into their daughter Alex in the motor camp before we left. She was on an extended visit to NZ, travelling, climbing, and camping with a friend.

We leave tomorrow morning for a day of kayaking on Milford Sound, followed by two tramps back to back--the Caples Track and the Routeburn Track.

Happy Birthday on February 11 to Suzanne Vincent!

Mary Ellen

P.S. We are coming to really like Te Anau, and it worked its way deeper into our hearts last night when we settled into big cushy seats at the local cinema, which, except for Sunday nights, shows a NZ nature documentary almost continuously. Last night it was The Golden Compass, which we had all read and had wanted to see (but it didn't come to Sylva!). The movie was so-so, but we loved it anyway. It's hard to beat a theater where your popcorn is served in a large ceramic bowl. Perfect.
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nz2008 on

Re: Hi Ho.

Great to hear from you; hope life in NYC is going well. We'll be home around Feb 21, so it won't be long!

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