Monday, March 17, 2014
Started Time: 8am
Finish Time: 1:30pm
We got to enjoy about a half hour of clear skies at the gorgeous Routeburn Falls until the rain settled in for the entire rest of the day. By the time we summited Harris Saddle, the highest point on the trail, the rain was cold and very unwelcome. Everyone says that day two of the Routeburn is why people often prefer the track to the Milford because you get to enjoy alpine views throughout the day, but since Cyclone Lucy was rolling into the South Island, the constant rain and clouds robbed us of any views whatsoever. It was such a huge let down. By this point in our hike, we were exposed higher than the canopy level with zero shelter from the elements, and all we could see was sheer white clouds past the tree line. At one overlook that I am sure is normally stunning on a clear day, I even waved my Sheppard’s hiking stick to try and part the clouds like Noah would do. I was highly unsuccessful. You could have told me purple people eaters and unicorns were tailgating in the valley below, and I would have believed you. The visibility was that bad.
The fog shifted briefly enough for us to spot what looked like water below, and possibly even a lake. As we began our descent down, our views got better below the clouds. Alas, it was Lake Mackenzie, and we had finally found shelter! It was quite a view with this massive blue lake nestled in the mountains, and Mom said it was one of her favorite sights. We met back up with the tree line, and got to hike in the most enchanting of any green mossy forest. It almost felt like a scene from “The Wizard of Oz” where we could see the Lake Mackenzie Hut, our Emerald City, but while it appeared so close, we were still so far away running through our field of poppies.
It was a very unconventional way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but at least we packed red wine and green plastic cups for the occasion. I have no doubt my newfound Irish friends will be highly disappointed that there was not enough whiskey.