Sunday 3_11... Relaxing at Routeburn Flats Hut
Today was a rest day...AT LAST! Although most of our hikes haven't been extremely difficult...we have been on the move for almost 3 weeks and a "down" day was more than welcome. I awoke for a trip to the "Loo" at 6:30 and stayed up...sending AM to my bunk in the bunkroom. I visited with Arlene and Daryle, the couple from Kansas until they had to leave. Danny and Shane, 2 orthopedic fellows from the US also had plans to visit the Smokies...so we exchanged e-mail addresses. (I have heard from Danny and he will be here for a visit in June!) One more breakfast of eggs and veggies...and the butter was still in great shape!
The hike up to the Routeburn Falls Hut was listed as 1 1/2 hours so Anna Marie hiked on ahead as I estimated it would take me closer to 2 to 3 hours. We were both extremely surprised to find that I did indeed join her on the deck of the Falls Hut in exactly 1 hour and 35 minutes. We had an interesting conversation with John, the Falls warden. As we were leaving to hike up to the Falls and a better viewpoint approximately 1 mile further up the mountain, John warned us about the rocks. I took off my pack and decided this was a great place to have lunch! Anna Marie wandered up the hill until even she had to say "Uncle!" We were very glad we re-arranged our trip so as not to have to traverse the whole track...especially with a pack! The wet rocks were terrifying and I was glad to merely photograph them. The familiar Routeburn vista from the "slip" was still overcast but I will always treasure the memory of this sweeping majesticview of the Hollyford Valley.
Upon our return to the Hut, I spent the afternoon chatting with Inbal and Anton a young couple that had just mustered out of the Israeli army. I did more laundry and Anna Marie went for another walk downhill this time. While she was gone a vet from Gore stopped in the hut to rest before finishing up his 2 week off-trail bushwalking/bushwhacking adventure. I have never seen a man so beat up and bruised...he looked as if he had been in a nasty traffic accident! Most of his route was off-trail. He carried an ice-axe, some serious-looking crampons and a satellite communications system. He told me that his wife insisted that he call every night so she could get some sleep!
Anna Marie returned and we ate dinner. I had my pasta and chicken meal while enjoying the give and take between her and a German fellow as they discussed propaganda, education, military and the merits of media coverage of world events.
Anton helped Anna Mari build a fire in the stove as the evening was started to turn chilly. . Our weather had been fantastic and even the forecast of rain, sleet, hail and high90-100 mph winds didn't manage to dampen our spirits...especially since we were hiking out in the opposite direction of the oncoming storm. I gave my black 50 gallon plastic trash bag to the Israeli couple as they only had one raincoat between them.