Kepler Trek, New Zealand - Hiking From the Luxmore Hut to Iris Burn Hut
The hut master had the typical expected Kiwi sense of humor. His speech started with a lecture, “I am not your Mommy! Don’t tell me how much your blisters hurt. DO tell me if the toilet overflows.” The as always when the discourse turned to the weather he got serious. He warned about gale force winds. “Again!” I thought. I couldn’t get a break. Apparently, they don’t close the trail for wind. Then came the encouragement, “Many of you can make it. Of course, if you can’t, just turn around.”
Sleep felt very cramped without a wall between the many bunks. Soon after I laid down I was treated numerous snorers. They were drowned out by 120 kph winds whipping about. Still I managed to sleep through to almost 6:00 AM. I joined a British trekker named Andy and we hit the trail with one eye on the ominous clouds in the distance with a sliver of bright red light.
The early start gave us a great vantage point to watch the sunrise. The layered terrain was painted in understated blues, with xyz terrain and abc light. Andy would be my model for the day. Not quite the same as my wife, but he was a real trooper considering the winds were fierce.
Given the propensity for wind there were two shelters . We reached the first in an hour and a half, took a break and then pressed on. The trail was completely exposed and we tried to hold a quick pace while still being safe. In a distance we saw a hiker getting pushed back and forth by the swirling wind. To make matters worse, a pesky bird was repeatedly swooping down upon him. When we met up with the harassed Frechman, he described the bird as a fierce owl-like creature with a sharp pointed beak. You know like some kind of prehistoric monster. We didn’t linger, and anxiously made our way to the next shelter. From there it was all downhill on a very well built series of steps. However, the severe wind didn’t let us keep our balance. This continued all the way down to the bush line. Sheltered by the brush, it was actually a pleasant switch backed descent from there. Well except for the eerie creaking of the trees as the wind beat down upon them.
We made it to the hut first and selected the best of the bunks. With plenty of time, we dropped our packs and took a side trip to a waterfall. When we returned a met a guy that had a math challenge. With plenty of time to kill I spent hours trying to figure out the missing angles of his little geometric puzzle. When I finally gave up, he looked at it and realized he didn’t remember the right question. So two hours of my life I wouldn’t get back. Kinda like watching Ishtar.
The story continues...