Friday, November 6, 2009

Water Music (NZ part 12)

(NZ part 1 here)

It is still raining when I wake up, but it has let up significantly. We gather our gear and decide to do the tramp - it's going to be raining whether we're on bikes or on foot. We stash the bikes and excess gear in the bush by the trail head, then cover it all with a rain fly and huge fern fronds. The parrots probably present more of a threat to our gear than thieves. The bush is so thick and dark you can hardly see 20 feet into it from the road, but it is still nerve racking leaving everything you have to survive and heading off. But it is all just gear, nothing that couldn't be replaced if need be, and our load could definitely stand to be lightened.

We finish taking care of all the gear and hike into the rain forest with the Copland River a little way off on our right. I switch to my sandals quickly as the hiking boots actually have very little support and water is flowing everywhere around us from the rain. I don't feel like hiking in uncomfortable, soaking wet boots, and I don't feeling like stopping to take them off every 15 minutes to cross a stream.

Now that the rain has slowed, I feel lucky for the rain as it has filled the forest with the sounds of running water, bubbling, murmuring, cascading everywhere. They cut through the forest around every corner, coursing along over moss-covered roots and splashing down exposed rock faces, sometimes running right along next to the trail channelized by glacial moraines, or channels of a previous Copland River. The sound of water comes from everywhere around us.

(Stream crossing on Copland Track - Photo Dan Cantrell)

As we climb higher we gain more views into the valley, which cuts through enormous peaks almost as the the trail begins. Clouds sit on the tops of mountains and dump rain that pours off the mountains and clouds in huge cascades, or long, feathery spray. At one point I see four waterfalls at once, all of which seem to fall from the clouds as I can't see their source. A flat ceiling of grey clouds, resting on walls of sheer mountain slopes, wisps of waterfalls dropping one hundred, two hundred fee, some not touching down at all but returning to vapor and clouds in a gust of moist wind. Punchbowl lookout. Architect Creek suspension bridge - max load, one person bouncing thirty feet about the churning, frothy creek.

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