Sunday, 18 November 2012

Final trip of the Semester

Laura and I had always been talking about one last amazing trip to end off the crazy smester we have had and we finally decided on doing the Kepler track. It's on the West side of the South island in Te Anau. Laura being on top of everything had it all planned out already (track direction, huts, campsites, etc).

So my final exam at Otago was on the Tuesday November 6th and we were planning on leaving the following day. The night was really our last night seeing many of the people that we hung out with during the semester. So we stuck to the Scarfie tradition and got on "the piss" for one last time all together. Wednesday morning was super sad with saying many more goodbyes and if it wasn't already a rough morning, we were running around like crazy to get the last minute things we needed for our trip! But it all worked out and we were leaving our flat by 2pm.

Of course we were hitch hiking out! (That was Laura and my last hitch hiking experience together) and boy was it a journey! We got 4 rides (a woman with two babies, a couple who shared their life story, a guy who did not want to talk at all, and a very racist old guy). The old guy took us to the outside of a small town called Riversdale which is about 130km's from Te Anau. It didn't seem like a far distance considering how far we had already come that day, so we were confident in making it for later that night. Turns out no one leaving Riversdale was going to Te Anau or just did not want to pick up the two people standing on the side of the road. We hung around the same spot for around 2 hours playing the harmonica (trying to learn), throwing rocks at signs, and scouting out different places to stay if no one picked us up. Sure enough the sun was setting and by this time no cars were even driving by anymore so we found a bush and called it home for the night.

It was really funny setting up a tarp and laying our sleeping bags down while all these people were walking by having no clue that two people were in the bush eating peanut butter sandwiches. Probably one of the funniest things that happened on that trip later that night around 1am was when I couldn't understand why Laura was eating some muesli.  I got even more confused when she rolled over and said "Jordan, do you hear that noise?" Sure enough a possum was nibbling on a bag of muesli that was 2 feet away from my head! I leaped up, the thing scattered and never really came back around. I don't think either of us really slept that much after that.

Tuesday morning we were up bright and early, both really unsure of if we'd ever actually make it to Te Anau. We caught a ride within 20 minutes to the next town which was even smaller than Riversdale. We were there for about a half hour when this vehicle flew onto the side of the road and the girl yelled at us to hurry up because her son was late for a doctors appointment in Te Anau. Score! We got a ride the who way there. We met up with our friend Robbie who hitch hiked out the same time we did but he actually made it there in one day.

Luxmore Hut - Night #1

We had a 'pre-tramp' PB&J and were off to start the Kepler track. The first day started out real easy walking along the lake and about halfway in, it gradually started to go up hill. It was all up hill from there until we reached the cabin we were staying in that night, but "the higher you climb the better the view!" The hut was around halfway up Mt. Luxmore and overlooked all of Te Anau. That night we had an awful meal of baked beans, partially cooked rice mixed with onions and garlic. Thinking back on it now makes me want to be sick, but at the time it tasted amazing. There was 17 other trampers doing the same course as us and staying at the that hut as well; we were all in bed super early.


Friday morning Laura, Robbie and I got up at 6:20am to catch the sunrise over the mountains. It was probably one of the coolest things I saw in New Zealand. Afterwards we made some porridge mixed with jam (amazing combo) and left around 9am all bundled up with our sock gloves to start day 2 of tramping. Compared to day 1, day 2 was much more challenging but it was also much more scenic and exciting. Basically we walked up the rest of Mt. Luxmore and literally hit the summit. During this entire day we were battling 80km winds and even with a 30lb bag it was still pushing me over. Coming down from the summit I had to sit down twice because I thought I was going to be blown over the edge!

We trekked on walking along the ridge of the mountain stopping in both emergency huts to warm up and eat one of the four massive chocolate bars that we brought on the tramp. Finally we started heading downwards off of Mt. Luxmore and headed straight into a forest. At the bottom was were we were staying the second night. We decided to camp out the second night, so we got a fire going, set up the tent and fought of the dreadful sand flies (the sand flies were so bad that at one point Robbie actually had around 15 on each ankle). As the night progressed the sand fly invasion died down and we made a pasta dinner with meat stick. We sat around the fire for a little longer more and headed to bed all praying that it wouldn't rain later on that night.

The third day was the longest but mostly an easy flat walk the whole way through. We planned to be back in Te Anau by 3pm so we were up at 6 and leaving just before 7. The walk was mostly through forests; we passed a rock slide and stopped for lunch an hour out of the car park. Laura and Robbie went swimming as I life-guarded. The last hour was a breeze and we made it to the car park just after 3. I ended up hitching solo (for the first time) and Laura and Robbie were going to go together. I got picked up first by a couple in their late 60's who were only going a little while down the road. The second ride was by a guy heading to a car crash derby and they set fire to one car and watch it explode! Third ride was by two Filipino's who absolutely loved Toronto! We talked about the Raptors the entire time. They dropped me off in Gore and I walked for almost an hour until 4 teenagers picked me up, made me chug a beer, then threw me out of the car (probably my craziest experience to date). I walked for another 45 minutes and started to get worried because there were absolutely no cars on the road and the sun was setting fast. Finally a car pulls over and I think I might have scared the man as I freaked out when he told me that he was heading back to Dunedin that night. I got home just in time to return the camping stuff to the rental shop. Met up with the rest of the students that were still in Dunedin for the remainder of the night.

Laura and Robbie got stuck in Gore that night and had to hitch hike back the following day. I won that race!

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