chilling feet

chilling feet

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Our First Great Walk

(Oddly enough this is maybe the only pic we got of all five
of us together.  This was taken on the second day of the
hike after we climbed up and out of Lake McKenzie - so
After months of planning and making arrangements, it finally happened.  We completed our first New Zealand Great Walk - there are nine total in NZ.  Out of the nine we picked the historical and illustrious Routeburn Trek.  It seemed almost surreal as we started the hike.  All of that planning and then the day had finally come upon us.  As we started working up into the mountains of the Routeburn Trek, we ceremoniously passed those who were finishing in the opposite direction.  If their smell was any indication of how amazing the hike would be, then we were in for one heck of an adventure!

This two minute video on Routeburn gave us an idea of what to expect:

+Miriam Williamson+Gordon Paulson+Scott Smith+Sarah Baddorf, and myself made up our motley crew.  Gordon has already given a moving account of our Routeburn via the blog he and Miriam do found at Game of Chicken (click there to go and check them out).

How does one describe a three day/two night journey through some of the most beautiful land that he or she has ever traversed?  Instead of attempting that which is impossible, I will fall back to my trustworthy photos.  Have no worries as I will describe each photo with as much detail as I can.

Oh and if you are wondering about the mustache... well I grew it for this occasion deliberately.  I think by the time you have seen all of the photos you will understand its significance.
(We have to start off with this photo because without Shona and Sara - two wonderful Kiwis who work with Sarah - this trip would have been a whole heck of a lot more impossible.  They agreed to walk Routeburn in the opposite direction so that we could exchange cars.  This not only saved us A LOT of money, but it also made the whole experience easier and better.  We caught up with them the second day and paused for some photos and chat) 
(I love this shot.  I have no idea what we were talking about but it seems to me that perhaps I am telling a joke.  Shona looks as though she is weighing my punchline to see if she will laugh while Sarah seems to be enjoying the joke quite  a bit.  I bet it was funny no matter what anyone thought.)
(Here comes +Scott Smith wandering up the winding Routeburn Trek.  Google tells me that they have taken multiple shots we took of this area and created a nice big panorama.)
(Oh ya, we started the trek right around Christmas time.  We actually finished on Christmas Eve.  +Gordon Paulson and +Miriam Williamson made us a super tasty and traditional Williamson Christmas breakfast.  This was not only delicious but also helped us work through our first day of hiking with no problem at all - plenty of energy!)
(On our first day of hiking we had a nice side trek to climb this... hill.  Here you can see our crew posing around the 360 degree stone map that showed the names of all peaks in view.  Pretty cool.)
(We have to stop and get some pics of the three of us - clearly Sarah should have had her sunglasses on too but she most likely took them off as a nicety for the photo taking.  
(Posing for a shot, I am modeling my "sweet as" walking poles that +Bevin Baddorf and +Jamie Baddorf got for Sarah and me for our birthdays right before we left.  They knew we would be doing plenty of hiking over here in beautiful New Zealand.)
(Do not even try and act like this is not one of the coolest shots you've seen in a while. Yep, I took it on my fantastic camera which I have been learning to use properly.  I feel as though this shot sums up the entire hike for me.  No matter what one looked at as they wander through the beautiful Routeburn countryside, the mountains were there demanding to be seen.)   
(Even high up on mountains we had the pleasure of suddenly taking a side 'nature walk.'  And look at what it offered us!  It really looks as though we are walking through the props of some strange movie.  But no, it's all real.)
(Mayhaps Routeburn is German for bridge - that's a joke.  There are some many amazing bridges we crossed, most right over waterfalls or rivers careening below us.)
(The track would move in and out of mountain viewing.  When it took us into the wooded area we were gifted with views like this.)
(Sister shot!  What goofballs.  This shot did well to capture the overall spirit of our adventure.  Every hiker in our group simply loved the experience of Routeburn.)
(We rounded a corner and saw an epic waterfall.  Sarah stopped and had the idea to take photos of the rest of our crew right when they saw the sight.  Here is Miriam's natural reaction.) 
(And Gordon's)
(And Scott's....) 
(And this, out of nowhere, is almost exactly what they saw when they rounded the corner.)
(From a farther angle as the track continues past the waterfall.)
(Ok.  You might be wondering what is going on here.  And as you can expect, when someone sees a waterfall like this one simply has to go for a swim.  At least Scott and I did.  The others looked at us like we were crazy but how many times does one get the chance to go swimming in a waterfall?  Who cares if the water appears to be coming directly from melting snow!? Also, I had to add this pic because I love it so much.)
(And it was COLD.  But that was to be expected.  It was also quite refreshing.)
(After the waterfall experience Gordon and Miriam refused to walk behind me.) 
(The views just kept getting better the higher we climbed.) 
(And now you can see why Gordon and Miriam refused to walk behind me anymore.  I decided the best way to dry off after the swim was by air drying.  Sarah was sweet enough to pose with me and smile even though she thinks I am completely crazy.)
(Can you imagine hiking up a trail and seeing views like this??) 
(This shot is taken just as we could finally see our trail moving up to our lodge for the night.  I think it's safe to say that we were ready for some dinner and relaxing.)
(After finishing our first day I walked down to Lake McKenzie.  It was so pretty I called Sarah down to take this shot before the sun dipped behind the mountains.)
(After rising on the second day, eating some porridge - that's oatmeal to you Americans who don't know what porridge is - and getting ready we did a short side trek before heading forward.  It lead us to this crazy crag in big rocks.  Gordon and I climbed in there but before the girls could come down he or I, or maybe both of us though I am blaming him, polluted the air and it was no longer a good idea to check it out.)
(We had to take one more shot before taking off on the hike, this time with morning light coming in from the other side of the mountains.)
(Sarah says that I will do this pose for shots and that she does not like it.  So in typical Brett fashion I still have to do it sometimes.  Thus I started the second day of the hike with laughter in my heart.)
(Sarah started snagging shots like this over her shoulder while hiking - not bad.  Up we went - up up up.)
(You cannot quite see where we started from but just to the right of this shot is where we took those photos down on the lake.  We hiked around it and then up to this spot.  Such amazing water here in NZ.) 
(There you go - you can see our cabins where we slept on our first night.  Cool.)
(And up and up)
(Clearly enjoying my poles and moves as I jump over the little stream in our path.)
(What did I say about bridges?  Just out in the middle of nowhere is this little beauty, waiting for us so that we can walk across whatever river, crag, waterfall, or obstacle this particular bridge was helping us over.)
(It got a little bit cooler as we ventured up closer to the clouds.  Such fantastic hiking and views.)
(One of my favorite shots of the mustache.  Sometimes even the mustache needs rest.  This shot was taken going up Conical Hill.  It's pretty weird when you are already at the top of a saddle moving through a mountain range that anyone would call a summit a hill, but that's what all of the signs say.  Hill.  Whatever.)
(Sarah had to take a break as well!  Ha.  We were getting pretty high up and the combinations of altitude along with two days of hiking was starting to show on folks.)
(But the views at the top were worth it!  When the clouds moved.)
(Sarah, Gordon, and Miriam all pose for a cloud-like moment.) 
(This would be a nice place to have a picnic.)
(And yes.)
(The view back down Conical hill as we descended - a nice emergency shelter waits for the truly unfortunate who might need such a thing in case weather really gets bad.)
(After coming down the hike we had this gem of a trail curling along yet another mountain lakeside, this time with a nice drop down into the water.) 
(Gordon and Miriam posing on the amazing rock path.) 
(Miriam and Sarah called this the Rainbow rock.)
(They both had to pose for it.)
(What sort of trek goes through stuff like this?  You can't even make it up.)
(Trying to beat the rain.  Still got suited up for it just in case.)
(This shot of Miriam and Gordon is one of my favs from the trip.)
(This one speaks for itself.)
(As we neared the end of our second day I stop for a pose.  Not sure how we didn't get any shots of the last short descent but it was nice.)
(That's how it was.  Dinner time.)
(Stopping from pasta time for a smile.)
(Not sure if you can see it but we did beat the rain - and then it rained, hard.  All night long and the next day.)

Thanks to the rain we did not get any shots the last day.  Miriam and Gordon took some shots so for now if you really want to see what it looked like on that day you can bounce back to their blog for some views.  Hope you enjoyed the views!

Happy New Years!!

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