Routeburn Track - Day 3
20 January 2018
The third day of the Routeburn Track involved going up and over the Harris Saddle.
The day started with low cloud cover with off and on rain – so this one day on the tramps where the weather did not behave, but I can’t complain as the Milford Track was the more important walk.
The day involves walking 11 km’s but as always we took it easy.
We then stopped for lunch just below the Harris Saddle, then we headed up on to the saddle itself.
Reaching up above the Harris Saddle is ‘Conical Hill’ - a steep 260 meter high hill you can climb up. So Julianne rested at the saddle while I headed up to see the view, but with very low expectations in seeing anything due to the cloud, which I ended up climbing through the whole way up. .
I passed several people coming down so it turns out I was not the only one crazy enough to climb Conical Hill in this weather. I found the climb / walk up quite tiring even without my pack on and I seemed to be going up and up for ever; but I was in for a great surprise - the top of Conical Hill was brilliant – not for the view (for there wasn't one) but I had this amazing experience of standing on the top of mountain with this almost hurricane like wind – it was like being in a crazy storm. I got quite wet but it was a surreal experience not being able to see very well and knowing that there is a huge drop right nearby and the wind whistling by at full speed. There has been no wind on the way up so it just hit me when coming up to the summit.
Eventually I headed back down, I had been gone quite a bit longer than what I had planned as I had taken the climb slowly and I spent time up on the top so Julianne was getting a bit worried waiting for me down below at the Harris Saddle. Julianne kindly made me a cup of green tea to help warm up and to help me relax before we headed down off the Harris Saddle to Routeburn Falls Hut.
It was several hours walk down from the Saddle to the Doc hut.
At this final hut is the Routeburn Falls, which the Routeburn track is named after and of course I had to go for a swim in it. It took a while to find my t-shirt for use after the swim so I had cooled down quite a bit and the water was bloody freezing. Unlike the lakes I have swam in on these tramps - there was no sun and I had to climb over rocks. Once in the water I couldn’t feel my feet for a few seconds and then my feet really began to hurt. So I headed over quickly to the waterfall for the ‘photo under the falling water’ shot then headed back to Julianne as quickly as I could. By the time I had clambered back my feet were as white as snow and they were quite sore. Dried them off as quick as possible and then headed back to the hut; but at least I can say I have swam in the Routeburn Falls!! – if only briefly.
The Routeburn Falls hut has some amazing views down into the valley below, it was a great spot to relax and enjoy my last night tramping. It has taken a lot of work and effort to get both these Great Walks completed with arranging Grandparents to look after the boys – all booked 7 months in advance.