Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Kepler Track

Covering february 6th to february 8th

I appologize in advance for the sappiness of this post.

A part of myself was lost on that mountain.

Part of me left and now lives somewhere on the slopes of Mt Luxmore. I saw it today, from Te Anau. It was making rainbows.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about my hike on the Kepler track. I did a huge amount of video blogging, which I edited down to these three. Notice how cocky I am to begin with? It didn't last long...

And I know the hat is stupid, but it was all I had!

According to my Lord of the Rings location guide, this river was used as part of the Anduin.

As I was hiking, I was painfully aware that other people did this track easily. It was never meant to be a test of stamina for me, and I felt like an amateur for being so exhausted. As the trail wound along however, I stopped comparing myself to others and just took it as an opportunity to show myself what I was really capable of. That I was capable of stretching myself out beyond what I previously found possible. Who cares what others can do - this is about what I can do! In that light, the hike was a tremendous success.

The first victory: Reaching the ridge!

A sleepy Kea

At some point after the second day's first shelter along the ridge, I sat down against a mound and laid back on my pack. I closed my eyes as a heavy drowsiness took me, but was awoken from half-sleep as I heard voices approaching. I thought it odd since I'd expected to be the last one on the track. I opened my eyes and found that I was all alone. Trick of the brain I though, and closed them again. I drifted off again, and again I heard them, this time accommpanied by approaching footsteps. As I drifted back to consciousness I thought I saw human shapes, but as I came fully awake I realized that, as before, there was no-one there. Was it ghosts I had seen? Or maybe the spirits of the mountain? I rested a while longer and then set off again.

As I arrived at the second shelter, I saw a hiker coming towards me in the opposite direction. I waited for him at the shelter, and of all people it turned out to be Matthis, a french guy I'd met on two previous occasions. He (like all other french people) turned out to be crazy. Obviously, we make good companions. He'd chosen to do the track in two days, doing the first two parts in one go. On top of that, all he had was his jeans, shirt and hoodie, a tent, a fairly light backpack, and a pair of 30$ sneakers. We shared a rest at the shelter, and then set off again in opposite directions.

About an hour after ascending Mt Luxmore peak, I crossed a small stream. i sat down by it, marvelling at the changes of mood I'd gone through since starting the hike. Physically, I was completely smashed. Mentally and emotionally however, I found myself in a strange, empty, comfortable and calm state. It was as if a part of me had torn itself free. The part that focuses on problems and worries about everything it can think of. I was left feeling completely at peace, and completely accepting of my place. I was right here. Right now. And loving it!

- 'I feel at home here' he said. He that had torn away from me. He was now sitting beside me at the stream.
- 'I think I'll stay, if you don't mind' he added. He felt so incredibly far removed from me that I found it hard to believe that we'd been one and the same just moments earlier.
- 'I don't mind one bit', I answered, happy to see him content.
He smiled and looked around, taking in the landscape.
- 'I don't suppose we'll ever see each other again.' he said, sharing my relief.
- 'I suppose not'
We sat there for a while. Waiting. Enjoying our last moments together. At last I got up. I picked up my pack and adjusted the straps.
- 'goodbye'
I said, smiling a half-sad smile. He didn't answer, but smiled as he splashed his feet in the cold water of the stream. I turned my back and started out on the day's last stretch. I never looked back.

On the last little slope before the hut, I heard the voices again. I turned around and stood listening intently in silence. I thought I heard footsteps, but as I waited no-one came. I know that it was most likely one of a hundred perfectly reasonable explanations, but still I like to think that there was someone there with me looking after me. Spirits? Who knows!

That night I went caving in a tight cavesystem close to the Luxmore hut. I went with an aussie called Luke. The caves extended quite far, and we must have gone on for maybe a kilometer or so. In some places we had to squeeze through sideways, in others, we were on our hands and knees crawling through shallow water, and in still others we'd be climbing over huge boulders, dropping feet first into the unknown blackness.

this is Luke, my impromptu caving buddy.

My first aid kit:

Relieving sore feet:

1 comment:

Torben Nyman Nielsen said...

My dear Son.
You are so tough - what a trip in the mountanins - very beatiful. I can understand your thoughts about the hut - it is always behind the corner only, no one tells you which corner. You got to go with me to the mountains in Austria some time.
I think you learned a lot about "safety first" from the first day - man, you looked exactly as tired as you said you were.
I think it doesn't matter if you, at the moment, don't know why you are doing it, that will come to you later I am shure.
Very good to see you and hear your voice again so now I will go to bed and dream about you on the mountain.
PS. The voices and steps you heard was probably me trying to find you to nurse your sore feet :-)
Make it a great experience.
I love you,