NZ2020: Days 10 and 11, Walking the Kepler Track near Te Anau, lots of rain, and a film

February 3rd and 4th, 2020 – Te Anau, New Zealand. After returning from our Doubtful Sound cruise, we were supposed to go to Milford Sound. As described in my earlier post, we were experiencing extreme rain and flooding throughout Fiordland. Many roads were washed out. Our guides improvised some other adventures for us, based near Te Anau.


Trail sign, locations of our next two hikes circled. The diagram shows how these lakes are interconnected to the huge hydropower scheme that ends up at Doubtful Sound, where we were the previous day.


Yes, it rains!

February 3, 2020

After lunch, we zipped up our rain gear and set off on a 6 mile hike near the shores of Lake Te Anau on the Kepler Track.  We passed through beautifully green rainforest, and crossed a river that was swollen with runoff. We paused at Brod Bay on Lake Te Anau, our turnaround point, then walked back the way we came.


Starting off on the Kepler Track in our rain gear.


A swollen creek entering the lake.



Brod Bay beach, turnaround point.


Walking through the rain forest.


Another view toward Te Anau across the lake.

February 4, 2020

The next morning, with rain still falling, and many surrounding roads still closed, we set off on a different stretch of the Kepler Track, this time along the Rainbow Reach to Moturau Hut, a 7.5 mile hike.

We crossed the Waiau River bridge, above a swollen river.


Waiau River


One of the highlights was passing through a wetland near Spirit Lake, with amazingly colorful plantlife and beautiful reflections in the water. On a nicer day I could have spent a lot of time here playing with the lights and reflections with my camera. 


Wetland side trip



Spirit Lake, rain.


We arrived at Moturau Hut, near Lake Manapouri, where we paused long enough to eat lunch. The rain continued to fall during our return hike, again through the lush and green rainforest.


View from Moturau Hut to Lake Manapouri


Rainforest trail with possum trap.


I took two pictures from the same vantage point, about three hours apart, that show how Waiau River still rising.


9:20 am


12:30 pm

Later that afternoon, after we had dried off, we visited a pub in the town of Te Anau, and then went to the Fiordland Cinema, and watched a film called Ata Whenua – Shadowland. The movie was made by some of the Lord of the Rings film makers, and included gorgeous cinematography and ethereal music depicting the beautiful Fiordland landscape that we could not see because of all the rain.


Serious Jenga at the Redcliff Cafe.

Image 7-25-21 at 2.54 PM

Another map of our Kepler Track hikes.

Meanwhile, our guides were creating a new agenda for the next day, an impromptu tour of Southland, since all the roads in every other direction were closed by flooding.


Six Hikes in June, 2021

We had six hiking days in June, all repeat hikes, so I am showing just a few highlight photos, and linking past posts for trail details.

  1. June 3 – Hamilton Mountain, WA, hike – I love this hike, however challenging (8 miles, 2200 feet), and always feel accomplished to have made the trek again, especially when I get to see the lovely Lewisia flowers on the upper switchbacks.

2. June 10 – Grassy Knoll, WA, hike – Another well loved hike. A bit rainy today, and on the early side for flowers blooming, but so green and lush along the trail!

3. June 17 – Saddle Mountain, OR, hike – We were here last month before the full bloom of the upper meadows, so hiked again on our way to an overnight at the Oregon Coast.


Saddle and summit


Pacific Ocean from the summit


Washington peaks from the summit

4. June 18 – Oregon north coast beaches – We stayed overnight in the Tolvana area of Cannon Beach, with a lovely view of Haystack Rock beyond the parking lots.


The next day we walked from Arcadia Beach and around Hug Point at low tide, to Big Barnacle Rock. We visited all our favorite landmarks from 30 years of visiting this stretch of beach nearly every summer, often staying for a week when our kids were young. So beautiful!


The sphinx of Arcadia Beach guards the northern beaches,


but we are heading south, along these open sands as the tide recedes.

We saw some birds and tide pool creatures:

Next we crossed over the old road carved out of Hug Point, passable at low tide.


Looking south toward Arch Cape from Big Barnacle Rock – our turnaround point.


North view, crossing back over Hug Point.


Walking into the wind, sand rivers pelting our legs.

5. June 22 – Three Corner Rock – Another repeat hike. We were the only ones on the trail today. It was just shady enough in the forest to be comfortable.


Our big surprise was the profuse bear grass bloom in the upper meadows below the rock. And almost no wind.

Views from near the summit (we didn’t scramble to the upper platform):


Looking south – Mt Hood and the cell tower, and so much bear grass!


St Helens, Rainier, Goat Rocks and Adams


Mt Adams


Mt St Helens

And a few more flowery views before heading down:


6. June 30 – Thomas Lake to Rock Lake Mosquito chase – Indian Heaven Wilderness, WA – Why we thought we could out-smart the famous mosquitos of summer in Indian Heaven I do not know, except sometimes you have to find out for your self. Which we did.

There  was plenty of water (mosquito breeding grounds) in Indian Heaven.


Thomas Lake


Dee Lake


Shooting stars, Heather Lake


Vernal Lake in one of the meadows.

The highest trail section had snow patches, with marsh marigolds and avalanche lilies blooming nearby.

We made it to Rock Lakes, and sat long enough to devour our lunch as quickly as possible, while the mosquitos devoured us through our DEET sprayed clothing.

We had reached our tolerance point, so rushed back down the trail, stopping just long enough to notice Mt St Helens through the trees.


We learned our lesson! There is not enough DEET in the world to make this a comfortable time in Indian Heaven. We will return in late summer or fall when the mosquitos are gone. 


June 2021 – Emerging…but into a heat dome?

It is June 2021 and I am emerging from pandemic life a little more each day, like the cicadas from their seventeen year hibernation, or the Munchkins of Oz after the tornado dropped the house of the Wicked Witch of the East on them. Well not exactly like that. But I am slowly meeting more friends in real life, blinking at the brightness of their unmasked smiles; hesitantly, then greedily leaning into their hugs; ramping up our conversations of all the not shared words of the past fifteen months. Then I go home and recover from the intensity of the interactions, but feel more relaxed, more appreciative of life before the pandemic, when meeting my knitting group and chatting for a few hours was a weekly occurrence; when the warmth of shared interactions was not impeded by a cold glassy screen.

I know the global pandemic is not over, that many places are still locked down and in crisis. People anxiously await their vaccinations, as I did three months ago. People with young children continue sheltering until their vaccines are approved.  But it is time for us to go outside again…

Around town:

We are enjoying berry season! We went on several hikes (see the next post), and also to see the roses.


June 8 – Portland International Rose Test Garden – We visited during the week when Portland traditionally celebrates the Rose Festival, mostly cancelled this year due to Covid-19. On this showery day, we saw a full rainbow of glistening roses – appropriate for Pride month!



Knitting :

I have completed two projects – socks, and a donation hat. I have four works in progress: another donation hat, socks, a cardigan and a gnome:


Kroy socks


Donation Tam Topper



I also met in person with my knitting group a few times, still outdoors and careful, but no masks as we are all vaccinated. We visited the Knitted Wit Warehouse on her open house day, and I acquired some new yarn. I also got a pile of potential from our knitter’s destash table at one of our meetups. It is so hard to leave beautiful yarn behind, knowing it was all going to donation if not taken home by one of us. So not sure what I am making with these, but I love the colorful potential!


New skeins


New to me destash table collection

Quilting :

I finished the baby quilt and sent it along to the new little one.


What the heck is a heat dome, and why is it lingering around my neighborhood!

At the end of the month, we were challenged again, by the heat dome! A rare meteorological event that produced record high temperatures across the usually mild Pacific Northwest, and once again confined us to our indoor spaces for a few days. Fortunately for me, we have an air conditioned house, but it is not common in Oregon. As the temperatures rose and the air stagnated, I was reminded of my time in Tucson, AZ, when the summer temperatures were commonly above 100 degrees, but not in the 110’s! We are out of it now, but it was uncomfortable, and catastrophic for many. 

We resorted to making popsicles from our ancient Tupperware molds.


These neighborhood cactus plants were blooming and happy.


We are hoping for a mild July….