Today was my only good weather day of my spare three days in Te Anau. I headed up, with the hope to do the full Kepler track in a day and running it as much as I could without damaging myself.
The alarm went off at 5am and for a moment I wasn’t sure why. Then I grabbed my running pack and crawled out of my tent. After strapping my ankle and filling my water vessels I set off under clear skies with perfect views of the mountains across the lake. It was easy going to the control gates and the official start of the Kepler track.
The leg to Brod Bay was very runnable and through a lovely forest that reminded me of the woods near my old house in Switzerland. As I went through “checkpoint 1” only a few campers had stirred. Soon after the climb up to Luxmore Hut commenced in earnest so I got into a tramping rhythm and ticked it off.
I exclaimed as I came out of the forest and into the tussock – I love alpine ridges! I very excitedly ran the next section – it was just soo stunning. I’d never run in terrain like this before and I was enjoying it immensely.
I came across a few trampers on their way down already. I stopped to soak in the views of mountains dramatically ending in an arm of Lake Te Anau and for peaks appearing over the crest.
I stopped at Luxmore Hut to use the facilities, top up my water supplies and have something exciting to eat (artisan baguette with capsicum dip and aioli – so, so yum). There were two Aussies about to set out for the day and we had a great chat. This was their first time doing a multi day hike. Good on ’em!
Up to Mt Luxmore I came across a good number of hikers. I did manage to have the summit fully to myself for a good minute; but I wasn’t bothered as this allowed me to grab a photo of myself up high.
What followed was more enjoyable ridge top running past the two emergency shelters and with views of the Hanging Valley before the descent started in earnest. It was definitely a quad buster and I crossed my fingers that I didn’t bust mine. The views were all still really sensational. A number of trampers exclaimed as I passed them – they couldn’t believe I’d started in Te Anau that morning. I did have to ask myself when I became the crazy lady who goes on 70km adventures !?
The next 30kms were relatively flat and runnable through very lovely forest. I came across Robbie, the hut warden from Iris Burn Hut, and we had a good chat about birds in the area and patterns in hut bookings before we each went in opposite directions. This had been a well timed break as I had started to struggle but now I had my running mojo back on.
With about 15km of the Kepler track to go (not including the leg back into town) I started to hope I could scab a lift from Rainbow Reach Carpark to avoid the final 10kms. I was starting to tire! Alas it wasn’t to be and I couldn’t be bothered waiting for one of the tourist groups I’d seen to return to their car.
I was now starting to wonder if all my muscles would hold up if I kept running. Gee I longed for a big arsed hill so I had a good excuse to walk. In the end I walked most of the final 10km anyway. I had nothing to prove to myself or anyone and since I was heading out for a 8-10 day tramp in a wilderness area in two days I kinda needed all muscles in working order.
When I got to the control gates I congratulated myself and then asked for a hitch back into town. I’d done all of the viewing side trips as well so the day had been 75km in 12 hours.
I celebrated back at the Fat Duck Cafe with 2 pints of beer, a venison shank and kumara mash. Then ordered chips since I was still hungry and a tub of exotic chocolate ice cream from the supermarket.
The 2km walk to the campground from town was probably good for my tired legs but was still an effort. At 9pm I was sleeping like a baby.
The next day was a fun and well earned rest day at the campground watching the rain pummel down.