The Routeburn Track

Amid and inspite of the onslaught of COVID-19 emails from hotels, airlines, Amtrak, county facilities, sports teams, the NCAA (good bye, Frozen Four tournament), 7-11, ADT, newspapers, and more yet to be named, we left the hotel early for our hike in the woods at Fjordland National Park.

A digresssion: Virtually every email goes on about keeping employees and customers safe, enhanced and more frequent cleaning, more hand sanitizers, better food handling, yada, yada, yada (were they not doing that already?). In Australia we flew on Virgin Australia three times in a week and a half. On each plane, one of the lavatories was “not in service.” Since the flights were not totally packed, it was not too bad. Once did not raise any suspicions, but three means we were either on the same plane each flight (although the out of service lavs were on different sides) , or VA is saving about 30-50% on cleaning fees in a pretty creative manner.

Now back to our regular programming…We drove along the edge of Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy, a thriving community of about 500, including the metro area.  Our group included or guide, Dylan, three Canadians from Leftbridge, Alberta, two Chicagoans, and us.  We all “clicked” and had a nice set of conversations throughout the day. 

What started out cloudy turned into a magnificent, sunny day.  The shady trail provided just enough moments of sunlight to keep us warm.  The 400-meter elevation gain over the two and a half hour, 4.5-mile hike to Routeburn Flats (and lunch) got the heart pumping.  We stopped at several scenic spots, and Dylan told us the water was pure, potable, and cold.

We crossed several swing bridges and saw the remains of two that had been washed away in the recent floods.  We saw where the debris had piled up and where the high water marks had been.  We had a nice lunch at Routeburn Flats, then hiked back to the van.  Not surprisingly, going downhill for the return 4.5 miles was harder on these well-used (not bad) knees. Of course, we made it back in time for happy hour pinot noir and appetizers at the Sofitel’s 1789 Lounge (I will miss that ).

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