Friday 3_9...Routeburn Track..Howden Hut...

I was still on the eggs and veggie kick while Anna Marie had cooked pumpkin and cottage cheese for breakfast.  Our bus arrived on time again at 11 am and we worked on catching up the journal all the way to the Divide trailhead, the lowest east-west crossing in the Southern Alps.  It was a very easy 3.5 km hike through a silver beech forest all the way to Key Summit turnoff.  Anna Marie went on to the hut to drop her pack and came back to join me at the overlook atop Key Summit.  I just stashed my pack alongside the trail and hiked up with a water bottle and some yogurt.  There was an interpretive Alpine walk on the top through a landscape of alpine bogs, tarns and mountain flora.  We enjoyed viewing the hanging valley of Lake Marian also. 

The climb to the summit was easy and we were rewarded with magnificent view of the Hollyford Valley and the Darren Mountains.  The 360 degree panoramic views of Mt Christina (2470m), Mt Lyttle (1890m) and the Hollyford face of the Ailsa Range  across the tarns of Key Summit were outstanding.  This day was one of the nicest so far on the trip.  The Howden Hut was smaller than any of the others that we visited.  It doesn't get as much traffic as it is so close to the end of the track and most hikers do the track in the opposite direction than the one we hiked.  It was a pleasant relaxing afternoon on the shores of Lake Howden.  I did laundry took lots of pictures while  Anna Marie and others dozed on the grassy banks near Lake Howden.

Met two lovely couples from Auckland, Roger and Glynis and Peter and Mary.  Mary was the artist I photographed doing a pen and ink drawing on the shore of Lake Howden.  Our Hut warden was Leanne and her talk was sprinkled with humor.  She repeated the fire drill messages and gave us permission to jump out of the windows if we needed to exit in a hurry.   Night fell quickly and we were all quiet and tucked in before 10 pm.  In the middle of the night the path to the bath house was bright as daylight with the  gorgeous almost full moon and it seemed to get warmer as the night progressed.       

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