Journal entry for April 23, 2015
Distance Hiked: 14.6 km
After almost 11 hours of sleep, I woke up refreshed and energized. It was around 7am and some people were already ready the hit the trail. I never understood why some people are in such a hurry to leave in the morning. From the moment they get up they do everything in a rush (get dressed, eat breakfast, pack everything up). My theory is that they are used to that pace back home everyday before work, so they keep doing it on the trail. Otherwise I don’t see the point of rushing and leaving at 7am, when there’s only 5-6 hours of hiking for the day.
I made the short 10-minute side trip to Luxmore Cave after breakfast. It was slippery, dark, and I didn’t see anything interesting.
Back at the hut, the views were spectacular with two layers of clouds, one covering Lake Te Anau, and the other touching the mountain peaks.
The trail continues its climb from yesterday up to Mount Luxmore. At times it felt steeper than the prior day. The views were simply breathtaking, especially with the perfect weather which included some clouds to soften the sunlight.
There’s a short side trail that allows you to climb to the top of Mount Luxmore. To get to the trail junction you first have to go around the mountain. The views from the top were one of the best I’d seen in my life, surrounded by 360 degrees of mountains.
I stayed up there for a while, trying to absorb the moment as much as I could until it started to get very foggy.
Back on the trail, the only snow I had to step on during all four days was this small patch.
The views continued to be breathtaking.
Next up was the famous section of ridgeline trails. It looks scarier than it actually is. I didn’t feel vertigo or danger at any point. Here I met Oscar from Switzerland, and Martin and Oliver from Germany. They were very friendly and we took pictures of each other.
I skipped Forest Burn Saddle Shelter, deciding to eat lunch at Hanging Valley Shelter instead. To make things even more beautiful, a rainbow came out. A kea parrot also came to visit us, looking for our food.
The trail continues its descent, first through a series of long wooden steps, then through forest.
The trail drops almost 1000 meters into Iris Burn Hut, but once again it didn’t feel too steep because of the grading on the switchbacks. But, despite the great trail condition, my bad knees were sore and tired at the end of the day. My left heel would also get sore at the end of hiking days. I suspect is because I’m compensating somehow for the bad knee, and not walking with the correct form.
Iris Burn Hut is not as new or big as Luxmore Hut. What I liked about it was the smaller and separate bunk rooms (eight beds in each), lowering the chance of getting the dreaded loud snorers that are present in every hut. I shared the room with Antti, a very friendly guy from Finland, and two German girls. I slept very peacefully that night.