The Kepler Track, New Zealand

A verdant respite -- The Iris Burn Hut, roughly at the midpoint of the Kepler Track and the farthest shelter from its starting and finishing points, is not a destination for the casual day hiker. This is where trampers stay for their second night, having completed the arduous walk over and down the mountaintops, unless one dares to tramp in the opposite direction for a far more relentless ascent.

There are many rewards for reaching the Iris Burn, from one direction or the other. Having spent nearly eleven hours in the rain, snow and mud (it took everyone else less than seven hours), I felt too miserable to take a forty-minute detour to visit the largest of the waterfalls along the Iris Burn River. My consolation came the following morning, though, with a view of the tranquil meadow dubbed the Big Slip.

Of course it would take the straightforward thinking of a no-nonsense Kiwi to come up with that name. Back in 1984, rainstorms caused a huge avalanche and mudslide to one side of the Iris Burn River, clearing the bush and creating an intriguing rock garden. The lawn is now naturally decorated with tussock bushes and young trees.

These photos were taken with a Nikon CoolPix 5200, set at 7.5mm.

New Zealand 2004

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