Friday, April 15, 2016

Nelson Lakes National Park - Day 3

25 Jan 2016

We woke up to a splendid sunrise. To get a better view of the sun, I climbed up a mountain in front of the hut and sat there watching the show.

Sunrise at Angelus hut
The last day of the walk was the longest with 20 kms to walk and unlike yesterday, it turned out to be a sunny day. Though we had a long way to the car park and catch the ferry back, we took time to get ready and start the walk. The initial walk was a drastic downhill along the waterfall for more than an hour.

Pic by Nipuni

I struggled with the heavy camera hanging on my front making it difficult to run down. Few sections were really challenging, forcing me to come on all-fours to get down. I was already tired by the time I reached the bottom of the hill. The view from here was splendid. The tall mountains all around and waterfalls running down from them made the walk worth it. 

Walk inside the forest

The rest of the walk was on flat ground inside the forest with beautiful flowers fully blossomed in purple and yellow kept us going. The views of the clean blue sky was gorgeous and I was very tired to stop and click anymore. We stopped at Coldwater hut for a quick lunch break and it my first encounter with Sandflies here. They are real monsters even with a repellent, which gives me a hint of how bad Sandfly Point on Milford track could be. The hut faces the Lake Rotoiti, with ducks swimming close to the banks. It felt so relaxing soaking the feet in the water for a short while before continuing along the river bank for the last stretch of the walk.

View from coldwater hut
The route to Whiskey falls suggested a 45 min walk, which never appeared until 90 mins. We were slogging so slowly. We sat for a break at the falls which was a 10 mins climb up in the forest. I was not able to pull through any extra mile but the sight of the falls could not be missed so we threw our bags by the side and went up. In about 5 mins the tall falls appeared in the scene. The water drops falling on the face felt soothing and it is always mesmerizing watching nature’s grandeur. 

Whiskey Falls
Back on track, we walked towards the carpark as swiftly as possible. Scott, our organizer went ahead to drive the car closer to some save time as we were behind schedule. Our return ferry was at 915 from Picton which was more than an hour drive from Nelson.

View of the surrounding mountains
When the last person hit the road, the rest of us were lying flat on the ground waiting for the car. We threw ourselves inside the van and I only opened my eyes when we reached the ferry station. I had bad cramps already and struggled to get off from the van.

View from Angelus hut
The cafĂ© in the ferry served hot dinner. We were all so hungry that we grabbed plate full of meals and hogged. Joked around the table pulling each other’s legs and found a place to catch a nap for the rest of the journey.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Nelson Lakes National Park - Day 2

24 Jan 2016

The best part of travelling for me is to wake up in the morning in a new place, in a tent, a hut, a bunker. I sit there looking around me with a feeling that haunts you for a short while, that I might never visit the place again in this life. It teaches me detachment. Just before setting off, I always look back one last time at the place, I feel sad, terribly sad. It’s strange, as it doesn’t happen in every place. But when I do, I know that I am leaving behind a part of me, forever.

Happy me!!

This morning was one such experience. I woke up after a tight sleep, to see some early clouds hanging outside. There was light in the sky, already. I did my morning prayers and went back to sleep. When I opened my eyes again, the hut was busy. People making breakfast, morning tea and soups, few still in bed. We had Granola for breakfast, it was yum, healthy and filling. A perfect tramp food.

Clouds surrounding the mountains

Other groups left before us. We had all day and the next hut was only a 9 km walk. The weather looked cloudy today and seemed perfect day for walk. We started walking around 1030.

View of the lake around the Angelus Hut 

Just after walking for about half an hour, there was an abandoned hut and we reached the ridge. From here, the walk was along the ridge, with gradual incline and at places a drastic climb. The wind was hard along the ridge, making it difficult to walk. Just the way, walking in a tree’s shadow brings a huge relief on a hot day, walking behind the tall rocks to save us from strong winds and at once, there would be complete silence. We stopped for lunch on our way where there was not much wind blowing.

We all walked at our own pace and stuck to ourselves most of the walk. None around for a hundred meters. All you hear is the wind that blew so strong like the sound of a machinery. Somewhere halfway the walk, on one of the mountains, from nowhere, I heard a musical sound, it played continuously. There was an iron pole stuck between the rocks, but how could that make a musical sound, like the flute. I could not comprehend, until I reached its front to see this amazing creativity. It was so joyful to find something so soulful on a barren mountain like this one.

The clouds increased later during the day. It drizzled slightly for a few minutes. The gravels on the slopes, made it difficult to walk fast in few sections, otherwise finding your feet on the huge rocks were much easier. I could just go on walking, for the weather and the climb made it so much easy.

View of the surrounding valley

On the last stretch of the walk, we reached the view point from where the beautiful sight of Angelus hut was visible. Soaked in nature, surrounded by two lakes and mountains all around. It was a downhill from here for the next half an hour to reach the hut.  

View of Angelus Hut from a distance

Angelus hut is bigger and more sophisticated compared to Bushline hut. It could accommodate upto 32 people, and it was fully booked for the day. There were already many groups sitting around table playing cards and sharing stories. We had time to relax before preparing dinner. Some of us took a dip in the lake where swimming was allowed, but the water was so cold that they were out in less than a minute. I relaxed my feet in water and what a relief it was.

Walk along the ridge

What followed was popcorn for evening snack and an elaborate dinner, pasta with smoked salmon. It was one of the most delicious pasta I have ever had. We emptied more than 3 packs of pasta within minutes and settled around the table playing poker with corn in place of money. I was playing cards after many many years. Reminded me of our late night UNO game with travel freaks. One of our team members taught us a new game called Cribbage, I enjoyed it so much that I ordered my own cribbage board.  

Cribbage board - my new tramp companion

The light in the sky with the full moon, the lakes glowing in its light and the mountains still in sight altogether made it a wonderful night. I sneaked away for some time, meditated in the full moon before getting into my sleeping bag. Tomorrow was the last day of the walk and a long one. I slept peacefully hoping for some good weather.