43.6305° S, 169.9466° E
Tomorrow came around and just before picking Jake up we popped in to the DOC centre to see if there was anything else worth doing around Franz. I spotted a picture of some hot pools and after speaking to the lady in there, learnt that it was a 2 day trip up in to natural hot springs in the mountains!! The only problem was that it was an hours drive back in the other direction.
We figured we’d think about it and headed off to pick up Jake from his hostel. The activity of the day was to go see the glacier, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the hot pools. Jake had been recommended to do them and the internet bigged them up too so we made a plan there and then. Jake should check out of his hostel, we’d go book a night in the hot pools hut for the following day, see the glacier then drive over to the start of the track and all spend the night in the van before waking up early the next day to start the 7 hour hike up. Fuck Yeah.
The weather was looking pretty wet for the first day of hiking but we figured what the hell and booked the hut anyway. After everything was sorted and we were all buzzing about our new adventure ahead of us we drove up the road to the Franz Josef glacier. We parked up and began the 45 minute walk over to it, It was still raining and by the time we got there you couldn’t really see the glacier that well so we didn’t stay too long.
As we drove back to the village we pulled up and all piled in to the back of the van to make a pot of tea. Then out of nowhere came our friends Coco and Antoine, who were visiting Franz with Antoine’s parents. Tea suddenly became beer and the rest of the evening was spent catching up in the Rainforest bar. We figured we didn’t need to leave until 8.30 the following day for the Copeland hike so Jake checked back in to his hostel and we spent another night at the campsite.
The next day we were up nice and early and ready to get going… that was until we lost the keys for the van and spent the next hour and a half trying to find them. I was convinced Jac had locked them in the boot but no, I just hadn’t checked my jacket pocket. My bad guys, Sorry. We arrived a 10am to pick Jake up and he was convinced we’d left without him. After having a giggle about it we finally got in the van and set of for the new adventure to the Copeland Track.
We finally started the track at 12 mid-day and with a 7 hour walk ahead of us in the rain, we knew we had to get a move on. Yeah, Good one. Before the track even started we were faced with an un-crossable river. We spent a good 20 minutes trying to figure it out before finally thinking fuck it and took of our socks and shoes to wade through it. By the time we were finally over it the rain was beginning to stop, thank god, but it wasn’t going to be plain sailing from there (although people did keep telling us it was pretty flat). After this we were faced with so many big mud puddles and river crossings that we gave up on dry feet and powered through, and power through we did. We managed to pass an Israeli couple in the first section, stop for a 2 hour lunch, pass them again on the second section and complete the whole walk (excl. lunch) in 4.5 hours, arriving well before dark. Winning! Oh an remember the part about the track being flat? Bullshit my friends, that track is far from fucking flat!
As we dropped our stuff in the hut and wolfed down some packet pasta it was defiantly time for the moment we had all raced up here for. Hot spring time! We each grabbed a bottle of red wine that we had slugged up and headed through the bushes to see what was in store. WOW. I couldn’t believe my eyes with what met them. As steam rose from puddles in the ground the back drop was a stunning jaggered mountain range covered in snow with a slight glow from the sun that had just set. Easily one of the most amazing places on planet earth. As we slowly dipped in to the hot springs we began to relax and chat with other people that were also staying at the hut.
As the night went on our bottles of wine began to go down and we dipped between the different pools and their different temperatures. The hottest one being filtered straight from boiling water that pushed up out of the earths spring. The others left the pools and Me, Jac and Jake giggled our way through the rest of our bottles under a bright shining full moon and still with a perfect view of the mountains in the backdrop. Being left to ourselves things began to get a little silly as wine went to our head, we all got naked and then started impersonating slugs, using the muddy hot pool ground to become frictionless. We finally we called it a night and headed back along the path to the hut.
The next day was beautiful. The rain had stopped, the sun was up and it was defiantly worth another dip in the hot pools as we waited for our clothes to finish drying before putting them back on the make the return journey. By mid-day it was time for us to go so we packed up our bags and began the long walk back to the van. Oh man was it a long walk back. The boys were fine, laughing and talking all the way home, but I was fucked. I could hardly be arsed to breath let alone speak, but we finally made it back and figured we would treat ourselves to some good food in Fox glacier before returning to Franz Josef.
Man I’m glad we did that, Jac bumped in to a friend who he used to work with the season previous to the one we had just done, and he offered us a nice warm shower with a real bed to stay in! holy crap it was like I’d just won the lottery. We headed over to Blakes house, where we all scrubbed up and had the most amazing night’s sleep. The next day was a short trip back to Franz Josef and a sad good bye to Jake as we parted ways after and awesome 3 days of rolling with the good times.