Friday, March 15, 2013

Keppler Track and Milford Sound

Here are a few photos from our two days (one night in a hut) on the Keppler track, plus some from our drive down to Milford Sound and a hike en route at Gertrude Saddle. We decided to stay at the Luxmore hut on the Keppler track so that we could do a full afternoon on the ridge between this hut and the two emergency shelters. Our first day was full - 3.5 hours to the Luxmore hut, then 6 hours along the ridge and back including climbing to the summit of Luxmore.

The Keppler Track hike began in forest along a lake and then climbed out onto a mist-shrouded plateau . This 'fog-bow' lay over the fields just before the Luxmore hut.

Lovely alpine flowers - - the Common New Zealand Gentian (Gentianella bellidifolia). See this blog for details on why this and other NZ gentians are not blue.

The mist highlighted hundreds of webs in the alpine meadows

Rani looks out from the ridge walk trail. The inversion layer clouds soon cleared off.

Chris stands near the summit of Mount Luxmore

Rani consults the map to try to identify nearby peaks and lakes

This mountain had a lovely and tempting ridge walk, but we had a long enough day (about 10 hours hiking) without adding another side trip

We were mutually surprised and delighted to meet our sailing friends, Yoshi and Myumi, off 'Gaku' at the Luxmore hut.

Returning to the Luxmore hut from an extended ridge walk to the Hanging Valley shelter (6 hours return with day packs - after we left our full packs at the shelter)

The Luxmore hut deck at sunrise the next day.

Rani enters the Luxmore cave - about 10 minutes walk above the hut.

Trampers enter the Luxmore cave.

The next day, an inversion layer hid the lake below as we descended to the car park. It cleared as the morning wore on and we had nice views of the lake.

Rani outstanding in her field - on the road to Milford Sound

Stunning scenery on the last 40 kms of the road to Milford Sound. This road passes through an incredible tunnel (the Homer Tunnel), which essentially burrows under the roots of a mountain much like the ones in the picture.

Tree ferns give this place a different feel from our Canadian west coast forest.

Milford Sound from the shore near the departure point for cruises.

New Zealand edelweiss

The awe-inspiring cliffs that guard access to Gertrude Saddle - a challenging day hike that can be accessed along the Milford Sound Road.

This helicopter flew very close to us as it took tourists on a hair-raising flight through the mountain pass.

Climbing the steep smooth slabs.

Rani just below the saddle. Note the steel cables thoughtfully let into the rock as well as the tiny hikers below to give some scale.

Rani looks out from the Gertrude Saddle. Milford Sound is in the distance.

Rani is happy to be coming down because she knows there is a nice glacial lake to swim in just below us.

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