Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tramping through the Southern Alps

The Routeburn track is a popular multi-day hike in NZ with 13,000 trampers annually. It’s 32kms long and goes from Mt Aspiring National Park to Fiordland National Park with huts (which function/appear more like hostels) along the way.

Normally this tramp is done in 3 days, but Lowell and I decided to conquer it in 2. This meant that we had to cover 23kms of trail on our first day. FUN!

We’re ready to roll!

Take a gander at the sky for a second... is the moon not COOL?!

We attempted to keep track of the kilometers passing by with Lowell's hand-held GPS. Unfortunately, it was having trouble acquiring a signal in the trees, so Lowell gave it a little boost.

We crossed ‘Emily’s Creek’ and took photos in honour of our youngest niece Emily. So these, dear Emily, are for you…

(That's still Emily's Creek at the bottom).

We had spectacular scenery throughout the tramp...

(That's Harris Lake in the background).

(I had a little rest on the bridge).

We were so lucky to have such beautiful weather. It rains in this area nearly 300 days of the year (6.9 meters per year), but we had clear blue skies and sunshine for the entire day (which did a lot to limit/eliminate the misery factor for a 23 km stretch). Despite the ideal conditions, we were still thrilled at our first site of McKenzie Hut- our home for the night.

Yes, it’s still a few kms away. Here’s a closer view.

After tramping through some true blue rain forest, Lowell and I arrived at the hut in under 7 hours and our tummies were ready to be filled!

Lowell and I had packed canned beans (heavy to carry, but good protein), and dried mashed potatoes in a bag (light to carry, complex carbohydrates, and a little ridiculous).

Ah, a meal fit for a bachelor…

A few days prior to the hike, we made ourselves this same 20 second meal (to make sure that it didn’t induce vomiting) and Lowell had the leftovers for lunch the next day. When I asked him how it tasted, he exclaimed with exuberance, “Oh, it’s delicious!”

Should I be insulted? Here I thought I was all successful in my domesticity, but my husband was oddly thrilled with dried potato crumbs from a bag.

Anyhoo, after completing our meal, we made our way to the bunkhouse (which sleeps 32 people) bundled up into our warm gear, and wriggled ourselves into our sleeping bags. It was only 6pm, so we snuggled like this (whilst watching House on the ipod- tee hee hee this is roughing it!) until falling asleep around 9pm.

It had rained through the night, and there were rainfall warnings for the day, so we layered ourselves with merino and rented rain gear in preparation for the final 9kms. Within about 40 meters of the hike, we peeled off the rain gear and some merino and continued on. We had another gorgeous day on our hands, folks (which was just as well because the rented gaiters were fairly useless in their torn/tattered state).

The second and final day of the hike went by smoothly and relatively quickly. Again, there were very pleasant views, and even a welcome set of toilets in the middle of nowhere!

At the completion of the hike, we waited in a shelter for the bus to pick us up and take us on the 4 hour journey back to Queenstown. We had been in the shelter for less than an hour when the rain came pouring down mercilessly with no intention of relenting. We counted ourselves as lucky and continued to watch an episode of House while waiting for the bus. :)


Bloggy Mama said...

Wild! I'm wondering about "tramping"... is that an NZ term, because, here...?? ;)

Shelley said...

I need to do more guys have inspired me :)

Joni said...

i see you had the clear blue skies i'd dreamed of. awesome! i can't believe you combined day one a two though - you are CRAZY! i definitely was ready for some foot-up time after each of those days. glad you liked it. :)

Lowell & Julie said...

Haha- yes Liz. In NZ you "tramp a track" more so than you "hike a trail". Happy to clarify that we're not on some sort of prostitution mission in the southern alps! :)

marcandorkylie said...

nice pillows! glad you suwived your advenfures.