Nothing like lying in your sleeping bag early in the evening after a decent day’s effort, and reading some great 19th-century explorer’s adventures.
Due to not having to carry much food, I’ve carried my Kindle and have Robert Burton’s Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah & Meccah aboard. It’s about his 1853 exploration disguised as a Pashtun brought up in India, and travelling to Mecca. He wasn’t the first European to make it, but the earlier infidels were too terrified of discovery to see much. Burton was a hyperpolyglot who learned over two dozen languages, including Arabic, and assumed the role of a doctor/philosopher. It helped that he was entirely familiar with the Qur’an.
His descriptions of the characters he meets along the way are entertaining. One of his phrases that has carried with me for a long time was when describing an indolent civil servant: “not a slave for whom time was invented”.
Yeah, that’s me.
Early morning, got the fire going, and watched the sunrise on the hills once again. Inky purple sky to start, wind blowing strongly.
The first couple took off before me, intending for Morgans Hut, and decided not to wear their crampons for some reason I couldn’t figure out.
It was a lovely crisp surface to crunch up, but as the day wore on it became considerably more slushy.
In fact, towards the end it was very similar to a Slushy.
The others all simply trudged across any slope, sliding crotch deep at times, but I took on a more insane posture, venturing across the quite steep slopes in a crab-like manner.
Slow going. Too bad.
It all worked out, and we all survived.
I stopped on many occasions, and took dozens more images.
Exposed to the elements and away from my usual patterns of behaviour it was easy to notice that I was breathing. Alive. Might as well soak up the experience at a pace I could digest what was going on, rather than retrospectively. Not try to do too much.
I might never have those benign conditions, sun out, views aplenty, if I came up here another time in winter.
The realisation came to me that this was probably my last smash-through-the-snow-at-altitude track I’ll be doing for a while.
Okay, I might go up the Alpine Route again in winter, but today has been about the limit of my endeavour these days. Might have helped if I’d been fitter.
But here’s the thing. It was a great day. It was worth taking my time and spending the day taking in all those massive views of places I’d been in the past, rather than sitting in semi-darkness in a hut.
Tiramea Saddle, the Mole Tops, and Mt Misery were on view. The D’Urville valley. And, of course, I could look up the Sabine valley as far as Waiau Pass. Mt Hopeless and Cupola on show, although Mt Travers was hidden behind. All familiar territory.
Then I sat in the sun at the bushline for an hour or two. No wind, actually quite warm.
Then my slow descent to the lake. 900 m from the treeline to the hut. It does go on a bit.
Not surprisingly it was considerably warmer at the lake at 450 m, rather than the 1650 m last night.
Nice to have the company of Michal and Anna once again.
We discovered we had a similar slow travel philosophy. And a Get-out-there-while-you-can mentality.
Michal has his own blog that covers their own trips.
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