If you haven’t used equipment for a while, make sure you check it before you use it! Or do like me, and grab your tent and arrive at the location after a 6 hour walk and start unpacking your tent and wonder where the ground sheet is. My mind was saying, not ideal, but I guess it should be fine without groundsheet, only to realise that the pegs are with the ground sheet. Well, this is pretty dumb isn’t it? That is how I felt, especially after a hard walk in and all geared up to take some amazing shots of this amazing lake!
That is when you sit down and have a cup of tea first and look at your options, with all these massive rocks around I figured there is a chance to find a rock shelter. So only by chance I found this rock shelter which had been used before, the little stone wall was what pointed it out to me, or else I could have walked straight passed it fro the angle I was looking at it. I spend the next two hours collecting dry grass and building up the wall a bit more, in the end I had the most amazing time sleeping there on a bed of hay and a sleeping matt.
Early dinner on the first night as I wanted to check out the place to shoot a possible nice sunset. It was very cloudy but I could see a little blue sky to the south, so that gave me hope that the clouds would only hang over the mountains but there is clear sky to the west, and that means that when the sun sets, it hits the clouds from underneath and lights them up like fire. I guess that is the advantage of living here and having this knowledge. To my luck, this happened and I was treated to an everlasting sunset! You sometimes feel guilty for spending time to capture it on camera and not sit back and enjoy the moment. Well, you do as a photographer, but you are also thinking about angles, settings, processing, posting and all the work that comes after the images is done, on top of that you need to control your excitement and because it was just me there I could not even share the moment.
My rock shelter was so cosy, there is something magical sleeping out in the open under a rock, feeling the wind and listening to the sound of splashing water from the nearby stream. Waking up in the morning with birds chirping and hoofs galloping away as soon as they smelled my presence, there are some big animals living in this valley or come up for a morning graze.
It was time climb the mountain and get myself into a bit more trouble, hahaha. I walked up mount Erebus but left it a bit late and the snow conditions as I later noticed got a bit slushy, which is not good if you climb up at a 45 degree angle or more. Half way up I had a sit down and faced my fears, I am not a big fan of heights and don’t like steep drops. As I sat down this hare came towards me and then went under a rock. But when he came from under that rock he walked straight towards me, about a meter away from me, passed me and then ran away. I was amazed how close he got, but I sat perfectly still, had the wind blowing up the mountain and the sun behind me, so the hare had not even seen me. In other words, he had not seen what his fear, but when he saw me he realised the danger.
It was quit a mind blowing moment, fear and danger.. something we only too often see as one. So instead of heading down, I carried up, only to stop 30 meters away from the top, I face my fear, but respected the danger. The last bit was just too dangerous to go up and the sun was burning on the snow and made it go all soft, soft enough that I actually went down the other side of the mountain and scrambled down the rocks, which were snow free from the burning sun. I felt safe, even as it was a bit tricky at times and I could feel my body tensing up from fear.
Back in my rock shelter I slept for most the afternoon, shattered from climbing up and the emotions had taken it out of me. Snooze time and ready for another sunset.
I walked out the next day, and being at the top of the lake, I could see an easier route down and I was back at the car park in no time, the luxury of the well paved Routeburn Track helps. Coffee time in Glenorchy and then push myself up the next mountain to McIntosh hut and Mount McIntosh……………