January 26 Te Anau Laundromat and Internet Cafe

Note: We walked it backwards.
Well we've done it!!! We did the Routeburn, and don't feel too bad.  More about it later.....

After Stewart Island, the plane ride back was much better.  It wasn't as windy, so we weren't tossed as much.  The plane was full this time, and Bob had to sit in the co-pilot's seat because it was the only one left!!!  I was very tempted to grab the controls which were right in front of me, but I didn't think the pilot would have liked that much.

We drove up from Invercargill to Te Anau, and listened to national radio about the fires in Canberra.  That was crazy what those people were told to do, defend their houses!!!!  Once in Te Anau we checked in to the YHA, and picked up our tickets for the Routeburn and the pack liners we needed, because it rains a lot in Fiordland, which is were we are now.  We packed our MacPacs with raingear, cold weather gear, (left out the swim suits because it's only 12 degrees here), and the rest of our camping gear and food for the four days in the wilderness.  We had booked track transport to leave at 7 am, so we tried to get a good night sleep, but I was too nervous so I didn't sleep very well, and woke up very early.  I'll let Bob tell you about the track.  I'll just say that the views were spectacular, right out of Lord of the Rings, that the rain was heavy, that my feet have never been so wet, but I felt good about how I climbed, and I'm not even sore!

Hmm, so it's left to me to tell about the track, eh?  Carol seems to have gotten off pretty easy on this update.  Well, day one was almost entirely in the bush, which was nice because it was raining pretty heavily most of the time.  This actually made the bush nicer, as it was very green and glistening, and the waterfalls were bigger.  We walked for about 5 and a half hours to get to the hut at which we stayed for the night.  A few times while walking the clouds cleared a bit and we could see snow-capped mountains peek out.  That was quite cool.  There was one time in particular that we were standing on a ridge, and we noticed just a tiny bit of a peak in the clouds.  As we stood there, the clouds cleared bit by bit, and we were presented with this incredible vista.  It was actually much cooler than it would have been to be walking around the stuff all day.  Also, at one point I pointed out to Carol that the track was less scary, becuase you couldn't see the sheer drop with was just inches to our left at the side of the track (because all you could see was the white of the coulds).  Carol agreed, saying that there was just abig pillow there to catch us if we fell off the side.

Day two we went "over the top", meaning we finished the climbing for the trip and crossed the alps via the Harris Saddle.  To the west of the saddle it was generally cloudy and overcast, but at least it didn't rain much (which is especially good as we were above the bush line all day).  When we got to the other side we saw that it was a bit clearer, and were rewarded with some great views.  The last part of day two was a decent down to the Routeburn Falls hut, which pretty much involved walking down beside the Routeburn Falls, which are a particularly spectacular set of waterfalls.  Day two was another five and a half hours.

Normally the Routeburn is a three day walk, but we made it into a four day tramp by doing a big side track on day three.  We started with a one-hour walk from the Routeburn Falls hut to the Routeburn Flats hut (where we spent the evening on day three).  We dropped our packs there (well Carol did, and I took a bunch of stuff out of my pack), and then we headed up the North Branch of the Routeburn river.  We had to start with a river crossing, which isn't a bridge, or even a bunch of stones that you pick your way across - it's walking through a river.  At its deepest it was about knee high, and it was about 8 metres wide, so our feet and boots got soaked in the process (which is totally expected in a river crossing).  We then followed a track which ran alongside the north branch of the river for about two and a half hours.  We went in and out of the bush a few times, and, as it was a clear day, had incredible mountain scenery which changed each time we emerged from the bush.  It rained on and off, and it was raining when we stopped for lunch, so we set up camp in the rain shadow of a large rock and made soup (using out camp stove and camp cook set) and had sandwiches.  We then went back the same way, back to the hut, which took about two hours, making day three another 5 and a half hour day.

On day four we slept in, as we didn't have to catch a bus at the end of the track until 2:00pm, then we slowly walked out, which only took about 2 hours, so we made lots of stops along the way.

And that's the story of the Routeburn.  It was kinda weird, because it was what we'd been training for for the past couple of months, but then it ended up being quite easy.  I guess that was the point of the training, so it definitely worked, but it still seemed kind of strange.

>> On to Fiordland


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