The Kepler Track – Part 2

“A Mish a Day” #169 The Kepler Track – Part Two. Fiordland National Park. 4.5.2010. One thing that draws me to a life of adventure in the mountains is the forced commitment. Giving up is not an option when you are in the middle of a mish. You got yourself here, and now you have to get yourself home again. I have been lucky to not have been put into a position where I couldn’t get myself out of a jam. So far. With that being said, many of my missions haven’t gone to plan, and moaning about the situation had no effect on the predicament I found myself in. Still soaked from the lake, Jeremy Wilson and I found ourselves above the treeline in a Fiordland storm

Luckily the track is well marked, as the snow began to coat the ground around us. Hoods up and heads down, we pushed on through the storm and were relieved when we spotted the lights of the hut. Even though it was outside of the summer hiking season, Luxmore Hut had a hut ranger who had kept the hut’s fire roaring. The hit of warmth when walking into the hut brought us back to life, and signaled the end of the day’s hiking. As the storm raged outside more people showed up, and in no time the hut was steaming with the activity of many people inside. Amongst the people was a group of guides from the Routeburn Track, and it was great to hang out with my workmates / friends away from the busy Routeburn. As darkness overcame the area we heard that an older couple were still out on the track. As we began the discussion of heading out to look for them we saw the faint light of head torches appearing from the storm. With everyone safe and sound inside, we could all now enjoy the benefits of a good hut during a wintry blast.

Murchison Mountains from the Kepler Track

Early-ish the next morning Jeremy and I were up and away, with a side trip to the Mt Luxmore Caves. As we are both not fond of enclosed spaces (caves) we didn’t stick around for very long. The section of the track across the Kepler Range tops is one of the most spectacular in Aotearoa. Wide and well designed, this track is a real alpine epic for everyone walking it. We were in and out of clouds which added to the alpine feel of the place, and in the times when the clouds parted we could see the massive drop down to the South Fiord of Lake Te Anau. After a quick reccie to the summit of Mt Luxmore(1472m) we kept pushing on towards the descent into the Iris Burn Valley. The ridge top track was even more amazing than expected, and we both took in the magnificent splendor of the countless mountains of east Fiordland and beyond. Dark clouds still hung over the mountains to the west, but this wasn’t a bad thing for it added to the mystery and remoteness of western Fiordland. What goes up must come down, and the numerous zigzags of the track quickly take you out of the alpine environment and back down into the beech forest. After many knee-wrecking steps down the track we finally spotted Iris Burn Hut and knew we both needed a cup of tea and sit down…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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