Stunned by Spectacularness (Part Two). Caples / Greenstone Camp.

“On a Mish” #78 Stunned by Spectacularness (Part Two). Caples / Greenstone Loop. Lake Wakatipu / Greenstone Conservation Area & Fiordland National Park. 24.1.2011. Calling any of New Zealand’s wilderness your ‘Office’ is a real treat, and a really good reason to get into the tourism industry. If you work in a place where you can be stunned by its spectacularness on a regular basis then in my mind you are doing things right…

After setting up my tent I finally had time to relax and enjoy the rather unique location I was calling home for the night. I had taken an Ultimate Hikes radio with me to see if it worked on the saddle and to my surprise I had crystal clear reception. I managed to hear the weather forecast for the next day and it mentioned low cloud clearing to a fine day. The cool clear evening meant I had a great sleep and woke early-ish the next morning refreshed and ready for battle.

I dragged the zipper up and parted the tent’s door to see what the weather was doing. Fog, fog and more fog! Sometimes a thick morning mist can sap your motivation away, however I was very fortunate to hear the weather forecast the night before and knew I was in for a cracker of a day.

Knowing the day was going to be awesome I wanted to get some elevation before I packed up and headed down to McKellar Lodge. In this part of the country elevation = world class mountain views. By the time I was on the move most of the cloud had disappeared. I was left with a bluebird masterpiece just perfect for alpine adventures.

I grabbed some food and then scrambled up onto the ridge above my camp. From here I enjoyed my breakfast with a view worth a billion bucks! The elevation of the ridge gave me a good look down at Lake Howden, and across the valley to the Key Summit section of the Routeburn Track. Places I knew so well and now I was getting a reverse view. I could see the tiny dots of the first hikers of the day, and it was great knowing they would be enjoying the epic morning just like me. I wished I could have stayed there all day, but a check of my watch revealed time was running out and it was time to get sorted for work.

After clambering back down to my camp with a belly full of brekky I packed up and headed back to the boardwalk section of the Caples Track. Beyond the track’s highpoint used to be a gnarly descent into the Greenstone Valley. A lot of work has gone into track improvements as, when compared to the rest of the track, the section is much more challenging. Although there was a brand new track available for added excitement I descended via what is now history. The old way is very steep and it is obvious why they switched to a much easier zig-zag track in a completely different place. I had fun clambering down the mix of steep track, rocks and tree roots, and was down on to the Greenstone Track in no time. I’ll admit that I had the odd scratch and scrape from my gravity aided adventure.

Once down in the Greenstone Valley I had an easy wander alongside Lake McKellar to the lodge, and from the moment I stepped in the door I was ‘at work’. As far as pre-work activities go, my mission up the Caples Valley to the Greenstone was about as good as it gets. Definitely a lot better than the normal bowl of muesli while watching morning TV!

A Rather Good Spot for Breakfast!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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