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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Christmas in paradise and seclusion

NEW ZEALAND | Thursday, 25 December 2008 | Views [1497]

It's Christmas! But for me it's not your average Christmas. Most people wake up to presents around the tree, a cup of hot cocoa, and lots of good cheer, usually surrounded by family. This year, I'm in seclusion, deep in a glacier-carved valley. I woke up to the sounds of the river, a cup of tea made with a gas-cooker, and surrounded by mountains, silver ferns, beautiful views, and unparallelled beauty, a seven-hour walk from the nearest road! My Christmas present is enjoying the serenity of being in paradise where I can soak away my worries in a hot pool. 

First, I must tell you how I got to this wondrous place:

Yesterday I hitchhiked from Fox Glacier to the start of the Copland Track, and I was there at 2:15 PM.

It won't get dark until late, so I have awhile. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the view is stunning! When I had to cross a small stream I had to take my boots off to avoid filling them up (avoiding a Milford Track repeat). During a couple of stretches early on the track was dug out and I had to take my bag off and carry it through. The track is very rocky, and not walked nearly as much as Milford Track, therefore it's not as well maintained. Orange triangles are what are used as markers. Next to me is a river, and the water is baby blue, meaning it is filled with glacial flour.

Three hours into my walk I passed Architect Hut; it is still another four hours or so to Welcome Flat Hut. I was having so much fun that I felt like I could go over the Copland Pass and end up in Mt. Cook Village. A big mistake I made is that I brought bananas and kiwifruit with me but most of them ended up being squashed. I was trying to go healthier on this walk and end up having enough fruit to share with others but it didn't turn out too well. It about 8:00 PM it started to drizzle and I heard this loud boom of thunder. At first I thought it was an avalanche until I saw flashes of lightning. Lightning is fun to watch but it scares me a bit because I was nearly struck by lightning when I was in secondary school; a bolt of lightning hit the ground only about 50 metres in front of me. As I heard thunder and saw lightning I was ready to duck at any moment, making sure I'm not the tallest thing. The nervous point came when I had to cross a raging torrent in which I was standing tall. Somehow I made my way across quickly and I was almost running to the hut as the rain was coming in. At about 9:30 PM I finally made it to the hut! It's a large hut but there are no cooking facilities.

I sat with a French couple and we shared travel stories. Afterward I pitched my tent under the bivouac rock before it got too dark. I had some applesauce topped with cinnamon and was able to trade a few tea bags for some hot water; I brought a lot of extra tea bags. 

It's Christmas! My remotest Christmas ever. With a stunning view of the mountains, the cool mountain air, and hot pools to soak in I'm so content here! The only disadvantage are these God-awful bloodthirsty sandflies! Enjoying the peace and tranquility of the Southern Alps, I realize that being in New Zealand is my greatest Christmas gift. It's extremely beautiful; too beautiful for words.

Soaking for several hours I was, enjoying the scenery. A pretty young lady named Angela and I did a massage swap after a long day. It's the perfect treat: hot pools to soak in, and then a massage to top it off. A hot cuppa was next on the list. Angela had forgotten her tea bags but I didn't have a gas cooker so it worked out. She's a geography instructor and I'm a geographer. A group coming from Mount Cook Village made it to Welcome Flat Hut tonight. Most people walking the Copland typically start from the road to Fox Glacier and just come to Welcome Flat Hut, and then turn back. Going over the high pass to Mount Cook Village is a serious undertaking and requires technical skills and safety equipment (helmets, etc.). If I had more time I'd definitely make the trip. It was a very jovial atmosphere tonight as the DOC ranger passed out fruit cake.

Welcome Christmas, as we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.

Maybe some divine force didn't want me to leave because it poured down rain the entire walk out back to the road, and it took only 5 hours to do a 7 hour walk, and I was trapped on the other side of a raging torrent preventing me from getting out. Bravely I walked across a large log (with nothing to hold onto) above the torrent. Soaked I was, but I would do it again! 

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


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