Friday, October 27, 2006
Just got back from my 5 day hike in Nelson Lakes National Park. The Park is comprised of two large lakes, Roititi and Rotoroa, and a range of peaks up to 2900m. The track I took wound along the Travers river into the heart of the park. I made it to John Tait Hut the first night, about 13 miles in, for my first taste of the NZ wilderness. It was windy and cold on the way up, so I was very happy to step into a wood-fire heated, running water, mattress equiped cabin that evening. These things are nice, and for $10nz a night, a bargain.
Inside, I met a group of 9 (more on them later) and two couples, one of them climbers who I had some nice chats with, the other a couple who had been working in Antarctica, at McMurdo station, where my old friend Ian is right now!
I asked them if they knew who he was, and they said no. I mentioned offhand as I trailed off that he had gotten frostbite. "Mittens!" they exclaimed. Apparently thats what everyone has been calling him there days.
The next day took a leisurly 3 hours to get to the next hut, Upper Travers, which is situated in an alpine cirque at 1700m. Took the rest of the day as a rest, lounging in the sun in 70 degree temps. Spent the evening talking and playing cards with the group of nine. Turns out they were with a Christian Organization that organizes these trips. The two leaders, Norm and Christie, where volunteers who had moved over from the states, and the participants were from all over; switzerland, the netherlands, oregon. They were very welcoming, warm, and kind, and we spent an excellent night and morning together before they set off on day 3.
I left most of my gear at the hut and ran the 2 or 3 miles up to the top of the saddle, around 2300m, which was a steep climb on slushy snow. It was reassuring to have my ice axe. The views on the top were spectacular, especially of the east face of Travers Peak. Imposing, to say the least.
I spent the next day and a half descending, and the weather held out just long enough for me. I'm back in Nelson now, off to Christchurch in the morning for a few days, then to Castle Hill. Hope everyone is well!