Another Great Walk (Part Four) – The Kepler Track

“On a Mish” #169 Another Great Walk (Part Four). The Kepler Track. Fiordland National Park. 6.5.2010. There are pictures of little Bobcat diggers cutting the Kepler Track into the Jackson Peaks and Kepler Mountain Range. The work has created an incredible walkway which at times is in the clouds, like you are flying in an aircraft. When my father and I tramped the Kepler Track we were treated to a snowy paradise with whipped cream clouds floating by as we wandered the wintery world above Lake Te Anau…

After the summit of Mt Luxmore, we followed the connecting ridges while being followed / lead by several Kea, which were slowly leading us to the Iris Burn Valley. The alpine section of the Kepler Track is up there with some of the best hiking / trekking tramping on the planet. The views of Fiordland seem endless, and the mixture of snow and cloud was true magic.

(It was on the ridge that my father’s competitive side appeared, as he saw my fellow guides as competition, and there was no way he was letting a bunch of young fellas beat him to the hut. He has always looked back at this with a little bit of regret because it did speed us up when, really, we should have been soaking up the alpine atmosphere.)

After the ridge trip the track descends into the Iris Burn Valley via a series of zigzags and staircases – knee destroying staircases.

By the time we got to the valley floor we could feel the 900m of descent and needed a good break before taking the short hike to the Iris Burn Waterfall. It was safe to say we ‘won’ the race to the hut, but it did come at a knee wrecking cost! We caught up with the hut’s ranger and gave him our tickets. It was great to see the track so busy considering it was outside of the normal ‘Great Walk’ season.

During the afternoon and early evening, the hikers rolled on in, and just like up at Luxmore Hut time ticked on, and the older couple were still out there somewhere. The comradery was high amongst the group by now and some former strangers now friends were joining us guides in hatching a plan if the couple didn’t show up. Luckily, just like the night before, headtorches appeared out of the darkness and the couple were cheered into Iris Burn Hut!

Early-ish the next morning we were up getting ready to finish our mish with a big trek to the Rainbow Reach car park. There is another hut along the way but we decided to smash the track out in three days instead of four. It is common for people to hike the track this way and, in the candlelight, we were joined by a couple of young English fellas who were doing the same thing.

We said whispered ‘good mornings’ before getting back to the task of cooking breakfast. The boys decided to fire up their multifuel burner on the table instead of the stainless-steel cook bench. One clumsy move later and the burner was knocked over and the fuel spilt out all over the wooden table. It immediately ignited and the Iris Burn Hut dining room was alight with burning fuel…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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