Friday, December 28, 2007

From the top of Kepler Track

I'm typing up a few notes I took while on the Kepler Track...
We're just finishing up lunch after an awesome day of hiking. We only have a 1.5 hr descent down to the Iris Burn Hut.

The hut-to-hut system is awesome. Last night we stayed at Luxmore: sleeps 50 in big bunkrooms and has a bunch of gas burners in a kitchen with a monster view of Te Anau and the snow capped ranges that surround it.

We were happy to see the shelter since it had been a pretty steep climb... 2500' in 13.8 km. Emma and I had been laughing about how her pack looked super big but weighed about half of mine. The hike started along the lake, with nice sandy beaches and clear blue water. When the uphill started, however, we both realized just *how* heavy our packs were. By halfway up, Emma looked like a flower after 30 seconds in the microwave. And it dawned on us we were doing a loop; that is, we could have left a bunch of stuff in Te Anau. The tent, two stoves, two sleeping pads, and the liter of soy sauce all were suddenly extraneous.

I fantasized about having a contest on the blog where we post a comprehensive list of everything we were carrying, its weight, and its reason for being in the packs, then let everybody vote items off the list. But it would have been too much work.

So the main debate went something like this... Chris: We're carrying too much shit. Emma: This is what you have to carry in order to go backpacking. Chris: We're carrying too much shit. Emma: Find something we don't need. Chris: When I find it, I'm chucking it off the next viewpoint I find.

To be honest, my vision of backpacking is a bit unrealistic. In 7th grade I read Ray Jardine's book, which laid out a system for ultralight backpacking: like 12 pounds without food. Straight minimalist to a psycho degree. But there's gotta be a way to not carry over 60 pounds. (Update: we found a bunch of stuff to ship to Christchurch so that we don't have to hike with it. The next hike was a bunch easier because of it.)

But we both made it to the top without trouble and we got a great view as a reward. And upon arriving to the hut we found some other people had carried some extraneous stuff too... half a dozen guys had a 20 pack each, and a few bottles of whiskey as well. To each their own, eh? As for us, we made a huge stirfry with this teriyaki packet. Oh man it was awesome.

And today, the views have been out-of-control awesome. Panoramas. Lakes and green valleys and snowy mountaintops and a trail tracing its way along grassy passes.

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