Wild Workplace (Part Four) – The Routeburn Track

“On a Mish” #59 Wild Workplace – Part Four. The Routeburn Track. Fiordland National Park / Mt Aspiring National Park. 22.3.2009. Going from filing cabinets to flying in choppers was a welcome change, and it needed a spine fracture and bulging disk in my back to happen. Things always happen for a reason, a positive outlook will turn even the worst situation into something good. For example, my back injury took me out of the dull surroundings of a warehouse and into the awe-inspiring world of the wilderness. A big part of that was the support of my family and now I had a chance to show them that their persistence had paid off…

We said goodbye to the lodgies at Lake Mackenzie Lodge and began to climb the zigzags above the lake towards Ocean Peak Corner. The weather gods were nicer to us on this day as we were spared a soaking, and got views as the mountains would disappear and reappear amongst the swirling clouds. We pushed on across the Hollyford Face and arrived at the Harris Shelter with the first of the guided party. The guides suggested that I head up Conical Hill(1515m) with the first walkers, which included my family. “No worries” I said, I didn’t explain that due to snow on our training trip and then pure coincidence throughout the season, this would be my first trip to the high point of the Routeburn Track, which is also the highest point of all of the many Ultimate Hikes Guided adventures. Confidence is as good as experience (a very young and dumb way of thinking) and together we all made our way to the top for the first time (not that I told anyone about this being my first time). The clouds returned on the way up, so our view was obscured, but the satisfaction of a summit will overpower any downness due to the weather. After Conical Hill(1515m) we made our way down to Falls Lodge, and like Lake Mackenzie, we were spoiled by the lodge attendants, and everyone appreciated their hard work and effort in the form of good food and comfortable beds. At dinner time I found myself in the kitchen cooking the steaks (not normally done by the customers!), but who doesn’t love cooking a big slab of beef on a hot pan. The night was capped off with the famous Falls Lodge pancake throw, and it is amazing how throwing pancakes through the air becomes the highlight of an adventure packed with some of the greatest sights on the planet.

After a good sleep we were up early-ish enjoying breakfast with the team for the last time, and then we were away on our last day. As a unit we charged our way down the Routeburn Valley towards the shelter at the end of the track, and it is around this time where most wish there were a couple more days instead of kilometres to go (including myself, even though I would return a couple of days later). After finishing we headed to the Glenorchy Pub for a victory drink and then it was back to civilization. If you had told me a few years before this experience that I would be taking my family to my workplace on my days off for fun I probably would have laughed at the idea. But thanks to an interesting series of events and constant encouragement by the very same people who would be out there enjoying it with me, I am happy to be someone with a wild workplace!

Success on the Routeburn Track!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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