I am a moderate hiker and I love to go out there for the absolute experience of the outdoors, to fill up my senses with spectacular views, to be in transport of delight for being able to do so and to enjoy the company of my friends.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I together with our Auckland and Wellington pals, packed our bags, flew to Queenstown and trekked one of New Zealand’s Great Walks: The Routeburn Track.
It was the most amazing break away from the taxing daily enterprises that we did in a while. We are so glad we did it!
The Routeburn Track is a world renowned walk located in Fiordland National Park and Mount Aspiring National Park in South Island. The track has offered us an impressive 32km breathtaking views from The Divide in Te Anau to Routeburn Shelter near Glenorchy as we winded over its extensive mountain ranges and into its valleys and forests for three days.
From The Divide, we snaked through magnificent silver beech forests for about a couple of hours and we were welcomed by alpine views as we emerged from the woods until we reached Lake Howden. The climb was longer than the average time as we took a halt several times to just appreciate the natural scenes and… to take photos. My friends took heaps of photos!!!
We stopped by Lake Howden to fill our rumbling breadbaskets and took the first interlude of the tramp. We shared the spot with other hikers, young and old, coming from opposite directions of the Routeburn Track.
I guess one of the best things about this climb was the complete lack of signal. Yes, you got it! No wifi, no phone calls, no texts, no social media! We were perfectly unplugged for three days. How amazing was that! It was a beautiful quietude from the disquiet of the usual daily life. Indeed, it was a great escape!
As we continued our gradual ascend for another couple of hours from Lake Howden, we were already heating up under the scorching sun. Sweaty and sweltry and thirsty, we were more than elated to reach Earland Falls which was just off the side of our track. So what do you expect? We amusingly and boisterously dipped and soaked ourselves in the water.
Bathing under the roaring waterfalls was like enjoying a Thai massage. I felt like there were strong hands rigorously working on my entire body, taking away the little muscle and joint discomfort, however blissful, from the few hours of threading the trail. It was delightfully invigorating!
We were so recharged that we playfully carried forward for a few more hours until we reached Mckenzie Hut in the evening.
Since we were sweating buckets again from the long walk, our tired feet led us to this gorgeous lake where we took a dip before we assembled together to feast on our evening meal. Afterall, there were no shower facilities in the hut for independent walkers so we were tickled pink when we saw this natural water to bathe in.
I did not completely drift to the slumber zone on my first night in the hut. There were 50 hikers sleeping in this communal layout. There were no power so we had to hit the beds as soon as the sun completely set. It was not an issue though as it was still showing its face until about 10PM. Well, I just enjoyed (though forcefully) listening to the varying tunes and sounds that are otherwise blending in some kind of makeshift orchestra. Phew!
But how can I make a fuss about not getting into a golden trance when a seemingly magical and enchanting forest welcomed me and my friends as we recommenced our wandering the next day.
As we climbed higher, nature with all its generosity , continued to charm us with its elegance and artistry. Perhaps now, you understand how the reality of daily life was pushed to oblivion for three days ha. Who will not be beguiled by these splendours before our eyes and disremember in the entirety of the 32km march the hustle and bustle of the places we left temporarily? It was utterly awesome!
We sidled along uncovered ascending path until we reached Harris Saddle, the highest point on the track (1255 metres) shortly after midday. Quite sunburned and exhausted, we collapsed for a few minutes on the shelter’s benches while we patted ourselves on the back for getting there. It was time to devour on our trail mixes and nut bars! Yummm!
We already realized the massive task of embarking into this great walk even before we started but man, it was all worth it! We tried to keep our solid pace along the bluff above the impressive Harris Saddle Lake, a small alpine lake, but we can’t help to stop for a while and mindfully reveled in the view. Was I feeling my pinky toes quite painfully rubbing against my boots? Yes! But I didn’t mind. If I have to reiterate, it was all worth it!
As we continued to advance in this little adventure of ours, nature kept on putting up a show by its changing landscapes as we traversed in the track’s tussock-covered flats and vast valleys.
Our thirst was quenched by drinking the stream waters. Thank goodness, we did not have to carry many bottles of water with us. The stream waters were safe to drink! Our rucksacks were heavy enough to carry!
I think this brief intimacy with nature has not only given us the convenience to take instagrammable depictions of our experiences. I mean, that’s one of its countless perks. Personally, I was brimming with gratitude for its very existence and more so for the opportunity to witness its beauty.
The conclusion of Day 2’s walk was spent in Routeburn Shelter. By then, my pinky toes and knees were already complaining. A couple of band aids and bandages offered resolution to its silent protest. 🙂
The last day was just a short walk so we spent it freely gallivanting and resting and eating and posing and documenting and stopping in several spots and…
Walking the Great Walk is an absolutely great experience which was more highlighted by walking with great friends. It was very much a wonderful wandering!
Thank you Beah Ulama, Mean & Ilya Anacan, Ferdie & Joanne Dasigao, Weny & John Cruz, Jezel & Joanne Cudis, Jen De San Miguel, Angel Jaurigue and Carlo!!! 🙂