Sunday, 25 April 2010

Quick Visit to Fiordland

So at the start of the holidays I got the opportunity for a ride down to my home town Te Anau. The problem was the car wasn't going all the way - conveniently the Routeburn track section would have to be navigated by foot.


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We drove down to Glenorchy late on Thursday in the last week of term. Setting off on the run early the next morning. The crew comprised tramping club members and was pretty strong, although we weren't out for a race. For some reason everyone else ran straight past the turn off to the Flats hut, a mere five minute diversion. Needless to say I stopped at every hut, signed the hut books, talked to the hut wardens. By the time I got onto the tops after Falls Creek Hut, I'd entirely lost site of my running companions! A chase ensued, and I caught up at the harris saddle shelter. Lindsey was hiding from the elements while the others were heading up to the viewpoint. That reminds me, it was horrible weather. A heavy rain warning was out for the following day and it was wet and pretty damn cold - especially on the tops.



As I passed a hut warden working above Falls Creek, I enquired about the hut warden based at McKenzie Hut - to my delight it was Clive Rule, an old family friend. A quick message on the radio mentioned I was running through, and would pop in for a visit.

With McKenzie Hut, and the gorgeous lake in sight we ran into Clive, he had left the hut to do some track maintenance. Anyhow after catching up on all the gossip, he mentioned he'd left the hat wardens quarters open for us - with tea and biscuits inside! During a cold mountain run hot tea tastes amazing might I add. Sadly Lindsey ate all the biscuits, somewhere around 15. Boy she is greedy. Ivor, Tom, Mattias and I barely managed to get crumbs.  :-p

As we left McKenzie Hut, we met the Te Anau scout troop coming the other way. This slowed me down substantially as I recognized and talked to all the scout leaders, including my flatmate's mother! I half expected to see my little brother walking along, but apparently he is too cool for scouts.

The Routeburn Runners
As we approached Te Anau more and more runners were on the track, after talking with a few I found out why - the Routeburn classic event was only a few weeks away and everybody thought we were training for it! Our time wasn't exactly competitive, but we were out and back to Te Anau before dark.

Chilling in Te Anau, waiting for the rain to pass
That heavy rain that was forewarned came true, our plans of heading into the darrens were put on hold while the worst of it passed. Luckily my Mum was a great sport and didn't seem to mind too much having 8 extra people in the house! The rain was fierce but thankfully brief, only one day of intense Fiordland storm. I did feel very sorry for that scout troop though - they would have been going over the tops in the worst of it!



With a day of watching movies and chilling out inside over, we drove back up the Milford road into the Darrans - starting out at Homer Hut we crossed an icy icy stream before ascending to Gertrude Saddle on an amazingly clear day. The river/stream was supposed to have a bridge but it was underwater!




Lunch on the saddle was helped by my Mum bringing out Salman bagels and the hot chocolate and coffee! With lunch over the group split up, Mum, Liz, Ellen and Sally all turned around and went the tourist route back to Te Anau. Ivor, Mattias, Lindsey, Tom, Monica, Neville and I all opted to keep climbing - with Barrier Knob in our sights.


Just as we hit this ridiculously hard blue ice Dave, Vaughan and Kieran from CUTC just happened to show up, talk about random! A small Christchurch reunion took place before finding a rock route around this small obstacle (we didn't all have crampons with us)


Once we got right up to the Barrier Saddle, Lake Adelaide presented itself to us. An absolutely amazing view, really steep drops like that just take your breath away.


Well although everyone else was staying in Fiordland for the Kepler, the Dusky and various missions around Queenstown sadly I had to return north - I had two days to hitchhick back to Christchurch, create a presentation for a conference then fly to Wellington! Part one of the holidays was a definite success!
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