After presicion planning we got up and set off for the starting point to the Kepler track. Decided not to go on the 8.30 am bus so we could get a good head start and avoid bunching up with other people at the start. Succeeded in avoiding other people apart from some runners who set off ahead of us and we never saw again ?! 60 kilometre trek which apparantly you can run in the yearly Kepler challenge. Yeah right !
Today was supposed to be a steady walk though forests around the lake before a incline up to limestone bluffs then out onto the mountain top for a night in the first hut - The Luxmore Hut.No problems with the first leg but quite a steep climb through the forests before breaking out into the alpine grassland
. Rain had been light all morning in the forest and the raindrops were reflecting the light off all the moss and hanging greenery. Very Lord of the rings ! The limestone bluffs had some walkways guiding you through the forest, soem of which had been washed away so we needed to do some sidetracking on alternative paths. As we walked out across the alpine grassland there were mountain daisys sprouting from the ground and every different colour of moss on the rocks marking the path. Didn'thave too much time to appreciate it before the heavens opened and we ended up running the last 5 min across the wooden boardwalks to the hut which was just visible though the mist which was as thick as pea soup.
Took the boots off on the rack (second ones in !) and settled in for a nice cuppa and to watch the rest of the bedraggeled walkers trail in over the next few hours. Attempted an off road expedition to the linmestones caves in th eporing rain. Start of the caves weer very cool with stalagtites but the rain was was coming in like a river, my torch failed and we would have had to have continued on all fours so we gave up and headed back to the warm hut were the fire had just been lit. Had a marvellous dinner risotto, chorizo and parmesan with some wine and port care of Nelson wine tour again (well it is Christmas) much to the envy of some of the rest of the cabin. I think we might be getting the hang of this camping stuff
! Crashed out in the bunk room, brr no heating but got snuggly in the sleeping bags and had a blissful nights sleep.
Woke up and the sun came out - Happy Christmas ! Took a quick shot on the balcony of the hut which was lucky as 10 min later the pea soup came down again. Struggled through soem interesting porridge stuff and a coffee then packed up and headed off. After 10 minutes of grumbling about the waether and how things generally stunk the sun started to burn through the thick cloud. Then as I lookedup the sky turned from grey to blue in front of my eyes. Turned aroundand nearly fell over as we could see snow capped mountains over the other side of the valley. And in front of us as we carried on for another hour there was snow on the ground. Besides oursleves with excitment we had a brief snowball fight and then ditched our backpacks to detour and climb to the top of Mount Luxmore. Stunning views from the top (see pictures) That made my Chistmas....then it got better ! The next 5 hours the sky was brilliant blue and we had views over the mountains and fjords as we walked across ridges up further peaks and onto the next hut. After reaching our highest point for the day we started the downhill path through forests and over rivers and past waterfalls
. Several hours later aftersome running downhill just when the legs were getting sore we reached the Iris Burn hut. Set in a bright yellow field of grass with mountains in th eback. Stunning ! After a rest we walked another 30 min to a waterfall which was incredible (forgot the camera which was a pain as we had no evidence). A couple of the other walkers had jumped in so obviously we had to follow. FREEEEZING cold. I screamed, dunked and jumped out. B had to show his manlyhood and had a quick swim then jumped out shouting "its lovely !" Love to see the testosterone in full swing... Back to the hut after a dry off with the feet really beginning to hurt. Bathed in the evening sunlight in the shadow of the mountains then whipped up another storm in the kitchen and tucked into our final supplies of alcohol. Luckily thr careful rationing last night allowed us some time to really enjoy the rest of the wine and port and we had an ecening stroll up the river before heading back to the hut for a couple of token games of cards and a serious pass out in the bunk room.
Not the best nights sleep as it was close to suffocation in the hut after all the heat and the windows didn't have full fly nets on. Bugger. Never mind got on the road and made our break for home
. The last day was always going to be fairly punishing with the longest walk but we thought no problem, its pretty flat. Hummmm. Started out fine back out into the valley and into the forests and we had a break after a couple of hours steady walk. Pushed on and the forest eventually turned started to break with some meadow type patches and a beautiful river running along side. Had to take a couple of detours where the path had fallen away but we were well on our way. Today was less about admiring the beauty and more about whether we woudl make the 3 o'clock bus from rainbow reach. By the time midday came I was crying out for another break and we reached the edges of a lake. We knew there was another hut where you could stay for the last night if you were doing the track in 4 days instead of 3 so we decided to push on there to have lunch. Just made it without the legs giving up. Those steep downhills the day before had really taken their toll. Tinned sardines and various other treats tasted like food from the gods. After a bit of a rest and kicking off the boots for a bit we kitted up again and off we went. Managed to score myself a walking stick for the last hour and a half which just about got me though. Was pleased to see one of the other walkers at lunch (bloke much bigger than me) was equally suffering. B was staying quiet but I knew he was ready for the end too ! Last push and hobbled over the bridge at rainbow reach. Amazing river with a swing bridge over. The only thing left that separated me with the end.
Hooray made it ! Missed bus by 10 min Boo ! Hitched a ride to the car Hooray! Relaxed and had a hot shower ! Would have paid a lot of money for that !
Great few days, amazing views, great experience. Check the pictures out. Happy Christmas.