Our final day of hiking for our Kepler team was EPIC. So epic, in fact, that it has taken me until now to recover long enough to write about it.
We were down to 8 in number, as Carol, Dave, and Jen decided to explore Te Anau by eBike. They took off about 8.30am and by all reports had a wonderful day!
The epic-ness of my day started with Karla, bouncing back in to our motel room after one of the best breakfasts she’d ever had. The sourdough was to die for. The playlist at the cafe was awesome. Her eggs were done to perfection. Her coffee was amazing. and on. and on. and on… To top her off, she’d even had a great sleep! She was beside herself and had no where to put her energy – i guessed it was time to go!
Our bus wasn’t until 9.45am, and thankfully this one arrived and collected us without any dramas. I’d given us 4hrs to complete 9km before our bus ride home again. My expectations were:
- an easier hike
- a shorter hike
- another brilliant and different landscape
- a bit of a meander along a glacier-fed river
- having a leisurely lunch beside an alpine lake
- i was open to finishing my cold water challenge in said alpine lake
At first, all my expectations were met. The water was crystal clear, a bright aqua colour, and we were surrounded on all sides by lush rainforest. The trail was an easy-to-follow boardwalk, and our first 2km was a piece of cake.
Things rapidly went uphill, in the literal and figurative sense, from there.
The whole 3km to the lake was supposed to take 1.5hrs. At 2hrs in, we still had 45min to go. There were ROOTS. There were rock scrambles. There were amazing views that we absolutely had to stop at. I turned Kass and Fiona around, and Cindy came back voluntarily, but then there was no sign of Rocket Rod, Juz, and Ali.
Now, i had the first aid kit, and 2L of extra water, and had also learned of Ali’s spectacular sense of mis-direction this week, so i was a little concerned about the people out front. Furthermore, every one of those people were extremely competitive and goal-oriented.
The goal was the lake.
The bus was coming in 2hrs.
Time to run.
Karla shot off ahead to try and catch them, and I shot off a bit slower behind her, in order to get the first aid kit to the back of our group (assuming they’d be turned around). The remainder of the trail was muddy, so steep in sections that I was climbing, ladder-like, up embankments, and dotted with crumbly river beds.
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I was all-the-way gassed.
Karla was all-the-way-gassed.
But we caught them.
Unfortunately Karla and I are goal-oriented too.
The goal was the lake.
The bus was coming in 1 & 3/4 hrs.
Time to run.
Run we did! We made it to the lake in 15min. We took a pic. De-layered. Did a wee. Shovelled in some sugar. Then we turned around to run back down as fast as we dared without injuring ourselves.
Rocket Rod was adamant he wasn’t going to run, and left before we’d finished our tasks above. Karla took off ahead to try and catch the others who were turned around – we’d asked them to have a break so she was to get them up and moving again. I stayed behind with Ali and Justine, who decided to make it down in under an hour (and preferably without two broken ankles).
We caught up with both our turned-arounders and Rocket Rod at the same time, with about 20min left until the 60min goal to get down. Ali mentioned to Rocket Rod they were aiming for under an hour. Rod couldn’t resist, and next thing you know, this man who hasn’t run in 20-odd-years is leaping and bounding like a gazelle over the terrain like someone half his age. Karla flew off with them, and I kept the first aid kit firmly at the back of the pack and walked down with the rest of our crew.
Understandably, Cindy, FAB, and Kass were disappointed at not making it to the lake, but there was no way of knowing the trail was going to be quite so difficult. All of them had the best attitude though, and they had done their best, stayed safe, and seen some amazing things.
True to Murphey’s Law, the bus was late. There was time for my last cold-water challenge in the icy river, as well as lunch at the bus stop, before the bus finally arrived to take us back to Te Anau.
Special mention has to go to Rod and Karla, who completed the cold-water challenge today… but waited for the relatively warm lake waters of Te Anau… Still bloody cold though!
At dinner that night Juz, Ali, Karla, and Rod were absolutely chuffed with their efforts. It was like the running endorphins were still circulating, and they were so proud of themselves! None of them had ever run before, with the exception of Rod who hadn’t run in 20 years and was only a year past his last hip replacement. There is something special about fighting for something, or giving it all you’ve got and achieving it, that’s addictive – kinda like walking the Kepler Trail!
I am really proud of our trekkers – or trampers as they say in NZ. They’ve been wet, uncomfortable, scared, and exhausted but without exception have done it with a solid attitude and continued to keep trying. I am so happy our annual adventures are back baby!