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Five weeks in New Zealand

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by warpus, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    There was a portable GPS beacon you could rent for a week for $60 or so, and I did look into it a bit before the trip, but in the end decided not to rent one. I figured that I most probably wouldn't need it.

    I'm generally pretty good with my compass and map though and the 2 trails I was walking were well marked and maintained.. so no problem, right? I just got confused a bit eventually when the hike was taking what I thought was way too long, with none of the expected geographical features in sight... and the trail markers don't tell you which trail you're on. I don't even remember now why that waterfall, which was clearly marked, didn't help. Maybe my map was crap. I was using a small one from the pamphlet.

    I figured I was probably heading the right way, but if I wasn't.. there would be a hut eventually. And I wouldn't have a ticket for a hut I didn't book, but they would accommodate me, assuming there was room. If not, it wouldn't be the end of the world. It's New Zealand, they wouldn't let me die. The ranger at the hut would figure out what to do!

    The stupid sun, painkillers, and my general tiredness made the situation a lot more worrysome than it probably had to be.
     
  2. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 9 - Routeburn Track day 1 part 3

    I was really enjoying the hike, even though I realllly wanted to already be at the hut, eating dinner, reading a book.. relaxing.



    I almost felt as though I was slowly going mad. I found myself taking photos of moss



    I don't think I really overdid it, but every once in a while I'd have to take some aspirin for the pain. It wasn't bad, but it was annoying.



    The Hollyford Valley



    The hut!!! I MADE IT TO THE HUT!



    Lake MacKenzie



    I thought about jumping in for a swim, but the water was really cold.



    There was almost nobody at the hut, just a couple people. I made chicken soup with sausage for dinner.. and then spaghetti, which I must have gotten from the Australians on the Milford Track, because I don't remember buying spaghetti.

    Sleeping arrangements:

     
  3. ywhtptgtfo

    ywhtptgtfo Emperor

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    Do you put your legs in a bath and massage them after a hike?

    From personal experience, legs and feet do need some maintenance between long exertions, although there's no perfect solution for your case since you can't rest for a day.
     
  4. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Nope, there was nowhere in Milford Sound to do anything like this, in between my 2 hikes, except maybe in the shower.. but I didn't know enough about muscle maintenance to even think of giving myself any sort of massage.

    I actually did get that rest in Milford Sound for a day and a half, but it wasn't enough! And I should have done research in terms of what you're talking about, but it just didn't cross my mind. I figured I would just rest and that's the best you can do.. I had only ever done 1 long-distance hike before this, a 66km one in Patagonia, and that tired me the hell out, but my legs didn't have any problems.

    For my next hike I'm definitely reading up on some of this. Because apparently I am not invincible after all
     
  5. Gangor

    Gangor King

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    I remember corresponding with you about this trip before you left - hope my advice was helpful! Looks like you had an amazing trip, in any case.
     
  6. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    I remember.. but I totally can't remember what your advice was! I hope you're not the guy who lead me to that abandoned warehouse in Wellington though :p

    Nah, that totally didn't happen. My trip was amazing and I don't think I will ever forget any part of it.

    It's amazing re-living it all in this thread by going through all the pictures, my notes, and remembering the stories. It was one hell of an action-packed trip.. I'm not sure how I'm ever going to top it

    Speaking of which, I think it's time for day 10
     
  7. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 10 - Routeburn Track day 2

    Day 2 takes you up above the tree line, where you stay for the rest of the day. .. and I had learned my lesson - it was time for the sun hat.



    .. the ridiculously bright orange hat that I borrowed from my then-roommate. It made me look a bit cartoony, what with my shorts and the black merino wool base layer around my legs. I did not mind though, as the hat was protecting me from the sun as well as anybody who might be hunting in the area. Plus if I got lost, it would be easier to spot me. There were many benefits to this arrangement, saving a bit of money on an expensive trip being only one of them.

    The previous day really tired me out, so I made sure to get plenty of sleep.. and this time I actually could, since the room I slept in was almost completely empty. Well rested, well fed, all packed and almost ready to go, I was tightening up my shoelaces beside MacKenzie Hut and lake, surveying my map, and getting ready for the long hike ahead.

    And at that exact moment a girl in a skimpy yellow bikini and a towel walked up from somewhere out of my view and stopped not too far from me. She said good morning and walked on, then dropped the towel, and jumped into the lake.

    This blew my mind. That water was ice cold! Who was this and why did I not remember any women who might look cute in bikinis from the night before? I wasn't on the lookout for women or anything, but cute women who might look good in bikinis tend to stand out, especially in the middle of nowhere with not too many people around and only 1 common area where you can sit down, cook, read, or socialize indoors. There was a campground, but if she was staying there, that's where she'd go swimming. And how could she just jump into super ice cold water like that anyway, and why would anybody ever do something like that?

    I pondered all that for a while, tied up my shoelaces, and set off. This was going to be a long day - longer and more challenging than the previous day's hike, taking me over the highest part of the trail, for the most part all above the treeline. I popped 2 aspirin pills and started walking. About an hour later I found myself high above Mackenzie Lake.



    In the centre of the image below, down by the clearing by the lake, you can sort of see Mackenzie Hut.



    The pain in my left knee quickly came back and started bothering me a bit.. This coincided with plenty of amazing photo ops though, leading to frequent breaks... and the fact that I had a bunch of snacks and a lot of food left and "only" 2 days of hiking left also meant that I could also be far less conservative with my snack and food rationing. All that went hand in hand with me taking my damn sweet time.



    Did I mention how clear the skies were? Fiordland National park, which I had been hiking through on both trails so far, gets 200 rain days a year and some parts more than 8m/320 inches of rain a year. That is a lot of rain! The wettest place in the world reportedly gets 12m. I was incredibly lucky to have encountered only a couple hours of light rain on day 4 of the Milford Track, zero rain after that, and incredible blue skies for all of my time spent in Milford Sound and on the Routeburn Track.



    This mountain had a very unique mountaintop



    Another view of MacKenzie Lake and Hut. The trail slowly takes you about 270 degrees to the right and up back into the Hollyford Valley, then over the Ailsa mountains through the Harris Saddle and eventually into the Routeburn Valley, which the trail is named after.



    What the hell am I talking about? Reference map again here

    Spoiler :
     
  8. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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  9. Silurian

    Silurian Deity

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    Can we be sure that the girl in the skimpy yellow bikini was not caused by the sun.:)
     
  10. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    She was real! More on this in the next installment
     
  11. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 10 - Routeburn Track day 2 part 2

    We'll begin this installment with another poorly narrated video


    Link to video.

    A couple passing by stopped for a chat and ended up taking a photo of me. The (ultra-thin) merino wool leggings might look a bit odd, but at that point it was pure function over form.



    And you know what's awesome?


    Link to video.

    I was wrapping up my lunch and packing things up when I saw another hiker making his/her way up the trail. As I continued packing, I eventually realized that the person walking towards me sort of looked like the yellow bikini girl from that morning. It was her! She said hi, introduced herself, and stopped for a break and a chat. An invitation was put forth for me to become her hiking buddy for the forseeable future. I (of course) agreed.

    Turns out she's from Estonia but was then living in Australia, there on a one year long sabbatical of sorts. New Zealand was her vacation away from her vacation.

    And the reason I did not see her the night before was because she wasn't at the hut the night before.. or the campsite. She made the walk to Mackenzie Lake from the beginning of the trail that morning, while I was sleeping. That seemed crazy to me.. This girl was in shape! I felt puny in comparison

    We chatted about this and that as we made our way through the beautiful landscape.





    We were leaving the Hollyford Valley behind. You can't see it in this photo anymore - it's running left to right though.



    My knee was acting up again and by the time we got to Harris Saddle Shelter, essentially the mid-point of the whole trail, I was limping.. It was bad. I could barely put any pressure on my left leg at all. I had to hop around on one leg to see if there was a ranger in the hut. Mari, my Estonian hiking companion, slipped me some of her strong Australian pain medication, which I believe was just very strong tylenol.. but I'm not really sure. I downed 2 pills and hoped for the best.

    We sat down and started chatting with a German couple that had hiked up to the shelter from the other side, in the direction we were headed in - on a day trip! They were planning on returning to the car park at the end of the trail before sundown. That seemed pretty crazy to me too.

    They just got there though, and the German guy brought a board game with him.. Something Kiwi called Tantrix that sounded intriguing enough.

    The object of the game is to create the longest path of your colour, in my case blue. I ended up blowing the German guy's mind by forming a loop and winning the game. It was pure luck really, but I did use a rule that according to him "shouldn't have been possible at the time" a couple moves before the end. It essentially forced him to place one of his pieces as an extension of my path, helping me quite a bit to make the loop a reality.



    After an hour long break it was time to go. The Australian drugs were sort of working, but I was very apprehensive about applying unnecessary pressure to my left knee. That was sort of unavoidable, especially when walking up or downhill, but my trusty hiking stick helped a bit as well. I had to somehow forget about my knee and move on, there were no other options.

    The four of us made our way through the Harris Saddle, towards the Routeburn Falls Hut. Along the way we passed Lake Harris:

     
  12. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    I wish there was someplace pretty like that around here.
     
  13. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Same here, everything around here is flat. Going through all these photos makes me want to fly somewhere like that again and go for a hike.. but my left ankle isn't healed yet and my work is busy. I'm thinking of flying somewhere in the fall, but I have no idea where yet.

    It's no wonder Kiwis call these the "Great walks". I saw the photos going in and was all "yeah yeah great walks", but they really are quite amazing
     
  14. Silurian

    Silurian Deity

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  15. JohannaK

    JohannaK Careless Whisperer

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    Lovely scenery. Tantrix is one quite challenging game. Individual challenges quite more so than player-to-player competition.
     
  16. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    It's a very interesting game, but one that you can start playing almost right away, as the big-picture concepts are quite easy to convey. It gets quite complex though when you're sitting there, looking at all the available pieces that you have, all the pieces your opponents have, what can fit where, and what sort of implications that can have not only for your goals, but also the goals of your opponents.

    I wonder if I should retire after playing it just once though :p I have a feeling that creating a loop again like that would not be easy, especially for a novice like me
     
  17. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 10 - Routeburn Track day 2 part 3

    Lake Harris is pretty damn cool.







    Somewhere in this direction was the next hut - Routeburn Falls Hut



    I was almost kinda keeping up with my now 3 hiking companions



    Looking back at Lake Harris



    Hiking hipster ready for action

     
  18. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 10 - Routeburn Track day 2 part 4

    At this point and at any point after the Harris Saddle Shelter we were no longer in Fiordland National Park but now in Mount Aspiring National Park. The two parks and a couple other ones form a larger UNESCO Worth Heritage site named Te Wahipounamu.



    The German couple had powered ahead and left us in the dust. They had to get back to their car before sundown, and there was still an hour left to go to Routeburn Falls Hat, which was 3.5-5 hours away from the car park itself. Me and Mari slowed down a bit, our hut not too far now. The terrain was a bit better for my knee, but I was eager to lie down and get some rest...



    A lot of these landscape shots ended up making the cut.





    The German guy (why am I so bad with names?) told us that on their way back to the car he'd mark a spot where there was a worthy sidetrip to a lookout point. He didn't say what the sign would be, but he did say that we'd know as soon as we saw it..

    A bit further down the trail we found it: a stack of obviously human-assembled rocks. My hiking buddy was eager to check it out, mostly because she did not get to do the Conical Hill side-trip by the Harris Saddle Shelter earlier because it was closed due to.. something. I seem to remember snow, but I'm not sure if that's right.

    There was no way I would be able to do the side-trip, so we split up and I kept on going to the hut, which was close now.



    And soon enough there it was: The Routeburn Valley

     
  19. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    I like how there's still ice and snow on the mountains in what was, what, late spring down there?
     
  20. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Yeah, it was the beginning of their summer. You'd think that their summer would start Dec 21st, but down there summer is Dec 1st - end of Feb. There's an article about the "controversy" here if you're curious.

    My trip was planned around the Milford Track, and there is still deep snow on that trail in September. By January summer and the tourist season are in full swing. My plan was to squeeze in between the snow and the tourists and that's why I ended up going in late November/December. It was warm and nice out, but the masses of tourists hadn't really arrived yet, except for to the to most popular attractions (like Milford Sound)
     

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