Another weekend adventure!! We rented a car (again… I’m starting to wonder if buying one might have been a worthwhile investment), and headed west. It’s was a girl’s weekend, which meant epic playlists for the car ride (our group rendition of “Defying Gravity”? Perf.). We had been celebrating the 21st of one person in the group the night before, and were still suffering the aftermath of that, so we weren’t as upbeat as usual, but were starting to recover well by the time we hit the hostel in Te Anau. A lot of laughter and a few Tim Tam slams later, however, we were ready to crash.
So, the Kepler. Our route, by the way, was to hike up to Luxmore hut, check out the caves, stay the night, and descend the mountain the next day.
Fiordland. Never disappoints. I love this part of New Zealand, made even better by the amazing people who helped me explore it.
The track started through the trees, keeping us shielded from the cold we had just been complaining about. We followed a side path to a beach, then hit the trail again, surrounded by green. The trail was steep, though, and soon someone said out loud what we had all been thinking: “Why do we do this?” It was a valid question. I’m no gung-ho athlete, no outdoor enthusiast, no adventure seeker. What the hell was I doing in the middle of nowhere with a pack on my back, sweating as I climbed and, of all things, smiling?
Not long after that, we hit a break in the trees, and we peered out.
That’s where we started.
Oh, yeah. I remember why I do this now.
It’s amazing. So much in a single view. It’s breathtaking, first of all. Beautiful. And inspiring. And it makes me feel so small and so huge at the same time. Small because the world is so much more than I am. Huge because I’m taking it on anyways, unafraid.
We kept walking.
As we climbed out of the treeline, the wind hit us. Hard. And the sign said we had 45 minutes left. We walked, pausing every now and again as a particularly strong gust threatened to knock our feet out from under us. We walked, shouting at one each other because the wind carried our voices away. We walked and, as the hut came into view, we walked faster. It promised one thing, in that moment more valuable than any other thing: warmth.
We refueled, and regained feeling in our hands, and were ready to go again. The day wasn’t over yet. There are caves, a ten minute walk from the hut, and we were ready to go exploring.
And they were so cool!! We had to crawl through a large portion of it, which honestly just made us feel adventurous. Neither pictures nor words can really capture what a great experience this was, so I’ll stop trying.
We ate and then girl talked the night away, hardly sleeping as wind worsened, making me fear for the status of our modest hut.
And then we woke. To…..SNOW.
I guess we should have been upset by the foul weather (everyone else seemed to be) but we embraced it, even leaving a snow angel behind as we started our tramp downwards, singing Christmas carols (my suggestion). We hit the trees again with great excitement, and sped down the mountain. There reaches a point in every adventure, I’ve found, when it was simply understood that the adventure is over, and you just want to get back to your car, and find a good fish and chips place.
We reached the car park, and turned back on the disney music, a perfect end to an amazing weekend. (And we found an amazing fish and chips place).