Sunday, December 02, 2007

Day 64-67 Greenstone/Caples Track

Time: 4 Days
Distance: 53 k
Avg Speed: walking
Terrain: Two river valleys, one high pass in between

Day 1: Car Park to Greentstone Hut
We started the day and the trip with an early rise to get the bikes and panniers into storage before we caught the bus to Glenorchy. Leslie and I were both really excited to get some hiking in and some time off of the bikes. The bus dropped us off at a small store/campground/bus stop in Glenorchy where we caught a smaller bus that took us to the dock. We had an exciting boat ride across Lake Wakatipu where we caught yet another bus that took us to the trailhead. We finally got hiking around 10:30 or so and were in awe from that point forward. We had a great hike along crystal clear rivers in the shadow of snow capped peaks. We got to the hut about the same time as a hiking group from the north island. They were out hiking another track and returning to the trailhead in the opposite direction we were going. The evening took a turn towards the interesting when they insisted that Leslie and I play a couple of rounds of male vs. female charades. I somehow had to go first for our team and drew the movie Deliverance. I was thankful that I didn’t have to act out ‘squeal like a pig’. My team got it at canoes and drawing a bow. Leslie, being the CSI fan that she is, drew non-other than CSI. You can’t make this stuff up.

Day 2: Greenstone Hut to McKellar Hut
After a night of synchronized snoring we rose early and brewed some coffee. We had about 15k to cover up the Greenstone Valley and rain was predicted towards the middle of the day. We were out the door by 8am. We rounded the bend and found our old friend, the headwind, greeting us with cold air and drizzle. We stopped to take in the views every once in awhile, but for the most part we put our heads down and trudged forward. By 1pm we had reached the McKellar Hut. While much smaller and older than the Greenstone Hut, this DOC cabin had lots of character and some nice views. Chris fixed some soup and we spent the rest of the afternoon resting in preparation for the next day’s trek over McKellar Pass. Toward evening we were joined by a group a European guys, 2 Germans, 1 Austrian and 1 French. They told us that they decided to speak English to each other because of the French guy…Anyway, they had great camaraderie and really seemed to be enjoying life in general.

Day 3: McKellar Hut to Mid Caples Hut via McKellar Saddle
We had nice night sleep in the hut, with everyone being quiet when we went to sleep and us trying to be quiet when we got up. We got on the trail pretty early and had a wet hike along Lake McKellar towards the saddle. We had an hour long scramble up wet rocks and roots to the clear views from the saddle. The beautiful Mt. Lyttle loomed in the background. If you were to picture a glacier covered mountain you would come up with Mt. Lyttle…awesome. The top of the saddle is a marshland from the runoff on the two surrounding peaks. We were glad to find a 2 foot wide boardwalk about 500 meters long over the wet areas. We had a rooty rocky descent down to the Caples river valley. The valley bottom appeared suddenly and twenty minutes later we got to the upper hut. There was a young couple inside when we got there. We had decided to get some water there and as soon as we sat down our packs the guy came out to chat. We ended up staying thirty minutes there chatting with them. The couple was excited to have some new people to talk to for awhile. We kind of recognized where they were coming from. Sometimes it is nice to have different people to tell your same stories to. We had an uneventful walk down the valley to the mid-Caples hut where I managed to snore out my wife and Leslie and I had two honeymooners in our room. Thank goodness they weren’t amorous, or at least very discreet.

Day 4: Mid Caples hut to Car Park
After saying goodbye to our Aussie friends we enjoyed a leisurely stroll to the car park – only about 7k. From the hut we crossed another deep gorge section of the Caples River and then walked down the right side of the valley. We reached the trailhead with plenty of time to spare before the Backpacker Bus came to pick us up. We chatted with our British friend that we met two nights before at the McKellar Hut. He was very well traveled and we picked his brain to see what kinds of interesting places he’s visited.
In true Kiwi fashion, the shuttle arrived right on time and whisked us away to the boat dock for the exciting boat ride back across Lake Wakatipu. From there we took another shuttle back to Queenstown. All in all, it was a great trip and a relaxing way to spend time off the bike.

1 comment:

JennSean said...

Glad to hear you were able to give your rears a break from the bike! The pictures you have taken so far are absolutely spectacular & I feel like we are right there with you!