It has been a unique ten days for the Schlarb family here in New Zealand. For those of you who read Jason’s Blog, you know we cycled up to the Divide from Te Anau to tramp along the Routeburn track. It was a successful backpacking adventure leaving us exhausted and excited for tramping the Kepler Track. We spent one full day of rest in Te Anau getting organized and clean. When we were on the Routeburn track, we had just enough food to get us back to Te Anau for a late lunch and nothing to spare. Seeing as we still had this idea of ‘going hungry’ on our minds, we loaded up on food. As we packed on Wednesday morning, I was pleased that I only had to carry Felix and a small pack on my front. Jason had a huge load. A big kudos to him as he carried, three sleeping bags, clothes for three people for four days, a pot and dishes, three breakfasts, four lunches, many snacks and a few other items. Now let me tell you. Our lunches are not light. They ususally consist of hummus, half a cucumber or a whole pepper, one whole salami, lots of cheese, an avacado, crackers and I like to finish a meal with a few bites of chocolate. Yes we eat a lot and that’s just one lunch. Needless to say, even with Felix’s wiggles and extra entertainment duties, I got the better load for this adventure.
Once we were loaded up, we began the first day of hiking up 13.8km to Luxmore hut. It was a marvelous five hours of hiking. The climb was good and the reward once we got past treeline was well worth the effort. We had forty-five minutes of hiking past along treeline on the first day to the Luxmore hut. Upon arrival we found the last few of 55 bunk beds and headed to the caves located 10 minutes from the hut. Felix and I braved the caves for a short period of time, while Jason and Becca (a fellow Canadain) went further into the cave exploring. The rest of our evening was fun getting to know some of our fellow bunk mates.
Thursday we started early (for us) at 8:30 am and we were the second last to leave the hut! There was 14.6 km ahead of us that day. We spent the majority of our time along the ridgeline and we were blessed with beautiful weather. There were magnificent views in every direction. The final decent to Iris Burn hut was the most challenging. There were numerous switchbacks that I felt would never end. Fortunately they did and upon arrival we found our bunks. At the Iris Burn Hut there are three different bunk rooms. We particulary liked this set up as we had three bottom bunnks all together that was somewhat secluded. It was our best hut sleep thus far.
Friday was another beautiful day, threatening rain but only sprinkled a little. Today felt like the longest day and with 16.2 km of trail, technically it was. We were quite tired from the climbing and decending of the previous days. It was a good walk through varying forests. I was particullary relieved to reach the hut today. The Moturau Hut was another unique experience. It is located beside a beach on Lake Manapouri. Jason immediately went in the water while Felix and I played on the beach. I then escaped to make myself a little cup of coffee and enjoy some time with our fellow hut friends. After chatting for a little while, our new friends from New Mexico and I decided we would be brave and take a swim. It was a chilly dip in the lake but well worth it. We had dinner shortly after my swim, listened to the hut talk (this happens at each hut). Once Felix was asleep in the bunk room we went back to the beech to hang out, enjoy the sunset and a bon fire. It was a perfect way to spend the last night of this trip.
Saturday morning was a slower morning as our bodies were quite tired. We spent about four hours making our way back to our bikes for a total of 15.6km. We were happy to find our bikes and our belongings in the same place we left them (hidden in the woods); re-packed our goods and made our way to the Holiday park indulge in a hot shower.
We are now reminicing on the fun we had and the new friends we met along the track and preparing our minds, bodies and bikes for the next part of the trip.