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There's not a whole lot to say about our return journey back east from Harris Saddle, which we executed at a fairly brisk pace. The weather continued to be unsettled, and we were lashed with an occasional rain shower. The thing about rain gear and fast hiking is that even if the gear is waterproof/breathable, it still likely won't be able to evacuate your persperation if you are working hard enough. And if you take it off, then you get wet from the rain. So, basically you get wet no matter what you do.
Back past Lake Harris
Waters of the Left Branch
Descending East Branch
The rain became more continuous as the roofs of the Routeburn Falls Hut came into view. We stopped briefly at the hut, then continued down the track into the forest, looking to quickly descend to the Routeburn Flats hut. About halfway down, my GPS unit suddenly reported zero satellite signals. I had never seen it do that before, even in the deepest canyon. It could only mean one of two things: either my GPS was broken, or there had been a nuclear attack.

Andy took out his own GPS unit and eventually confirmed that he could get a lock, thereby proving that the nuclear holocaust had not commenced. Fortunately. (Note that the elevation profile for this hike is likely a bit wonky as a result of the GPS failure, as I came away with suspect data plus a merge with Andy's GPS data).
Approaching Falls Hut
Falls Hut and Routeburn Flats
Routeburn Falls
Falls Hut Deck
Crossing old slide
Routeburn Flats
It started to rain more steadily as we descended towards the Flats Hut. Inspired to get someplace dry, we knocked off a fast thirty-minute descent, arriving at the Routeburn Flats hut shortly after 11 a.m. Jenn and Caroline had only arrived thirty minutes earlier, which meant that we had been able to claw back an hour's worth of time on them with our fast hiking speed. Lori and Andrea - who had stayed back in the hut this morning - were looking dry and relaxed.
Back to forest hiking
Routeburn Flats Hut
Routeburn Flats
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Routeburn Day 2 (RF to Conical Pk) - click map to view
Routeburn Track Day 2 - RF Hut to Conical Peak (Return)
Start Time: 5:51a.m.
End Time: 11:14a.m.
Duration: 5h23m
Distance: 14.49 km (9.01 mi)
Average Speed: 2.7 km/hr (1.7 mph)
Start Elevation: 2317ft (706m) *
Max Elevation: 5076ft (1547m) *
Min Elevation: 2300ft (701m) *
End Elevation: 2300ft (701m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 3124ft (952m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 3120ft (951m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
We suited up again in preparation for our final walk - the walk down from the Routeburn Flats hut to the eastern trailhead at Routeburn Road, where our rental vans were waiting. The rain continued as we did so - it looked like the morning sort-of-clear weather window had ended.

Again, the rain was a good motivator, and we made very good time heading down the wide and easy track. Water levels were noticably reduced from yesterday, though, and several places where there had been flowing water across the trail (or waterfalls from above) were today dry.
Departing from Flats Hut
Crossing Routeburn River
Now Dry
Except for a few short breaks, it mostly rained all the way back. We strode across the large final bridge over the Routeburn River shortly before 2pm. We had charged down the 7.3 km of trail in only 1 hour and 35 minutes. That's nearly 5 km/hr - very fast.
Fast Pace
Routeburn East Trailhead
Raining Hard
Hiker of the trip
The rain intensified as we walked across the lawn at the trailhead. Taking refuge in the large trailhead shelter, we shed our sopping wet gear. Andy and I went to fetch the vans, bringing them nearer so we could hop in without getting too wet. I fetched a dry set of clothes and then shoved my wet pack into the van. It had been a successful day, but I had to admit that I was pleased to be finished with the wet.
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Routeburn Day 2 (RF to TH) - click map to view
Routeburn Track Day 2 - RF Hut to Trailhead
Start Time: 12:09p.m.
End Time: 1:44p.m.
Duration: 1h35m
Distance: 7.33 km (4.56 mi)
Average Speed: 4.6 km/hr (2.9 mph)
Start Elevation: 2360ft (719m) *
Max Elevation: 2431ft (741m) *
Min Elevation: 1592ft (485m) *
End Elevation: 1638ft (499m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 729ft (222m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 1461ft (445m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
Last Night in New Zealand
We enjoyed the scenic drive out of the park, and back along Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown, where we had booked two spacious units at the Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park, situated convieniently within walking distance of the downtown core. The weather improved as we drove west, and by the time we had reached Queenstown, there were many sunny periods.

For the six of us who were not Brian and Lori, today was our penultimate day in New Zealand. We spent the rest of the day hanging out our gear to dry and organizing and packing for the trip back to Canada. After getting reasonably organized, we walked down into town and had dinner at a local Indian restaurant.
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[ Return to New Zealand Home page | Intro | Hobbiton | Home Base North | Hawke's Bay Cycle Tour | The Taupo Area | Waitomo Glowworm Caves | The Rotorua Area | Tongariro Alpine Crossing | The Great Lake Ride | The Capital - Wellington | Crossing the Cook Strait | Tasman Great Taste Ride | Rain Day in Nelson | Abel Tasman Kayak and Hike | The Great South Drive | Aspiring National Park Backpack | Queenstown | The Routeburn Track | Epilogue | The "Short Report" | GPS Data ]

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