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kyle miller
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PostFri Nov 16, 2018 6:42 am 
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This journey starts from the Arctic North of Finland, the land of the midnight sun and the winters of relentless darkness. This summer we had a relentless heat wave of 32 degrees and decided it was time to head back to winter in the South Pacific. It was decided that my wife got beaches and I got mountains so I spent days on google Earth and stumbled across Vanuatu. It's Situated between Fiji and new Caledonia it's an extremely poor country but is studded with beautiful beaches, lava filled volcanoes and some of the nicest people you could every meet.


Over the years I've learned that you can get a side trip in with layovers so we set up our tickets to get a layover in Shanghai, China. With 7 hours to explore with got on the Mag Lev a bullet train to town center going 240km per per hour for 30kms and in a total of 7 minutes we were in town. As we arrived at Hailun road and I noticed that they had an advertisement with a photo of Mt. Rainier on it. After that we walked down to the river to take in a view of the Bund district and check out a statue of Chairman Mao before grabbing some street food and heading back to the airport. Though it was a brief visit it was wild to see the worlds most populated city and made me interested in returning someday.


After China we flew to Auckland, NZ and after another 12 hour layover we were off to Port Vila, Vanuatu. For the First two days we adjusted to the time difference and get a fill for Vanuatu life before heading off to the Island of Santo so my wife could get some beach time. Once arriving at Luganville on the South end of Santo Island we took a taxi 45km to a bungalow at Lonnoc beach. For the next 2 days we relaxed and kayaked 15 minutes over to Champagne beach, possibly the most famous beach in Vanuata. Our final night in Santo we went south to Turtle Bay where we kayaked up a river to explore and swim in a beautiful blue hole.


The next place we visited was the Island of Ambrym a place where black magic is still alive and well and is still quite isolated from the world. I had set up a 2 night guided hike to go check out Mt. Marum and Benbow and after a night at a locals bungalow and a hour ride on a 4wd trail we were off into the jungle and climbing for the next 3 hours through lush jungle before reaching the ash plains within view of the two volcanoes. The first afternoon we checked out Benbow at sunset before arriving to our tent in the dark. That night I stayed up just staring at the red glow coming off the lava before heading up to Marum the next morning. We followed the ash plains than climbed up an eroded ridge before reaching the volcanoes crater. From there we descended into the crater and looked upon a boiling mass of lava before heading back to camp where we rested for a early exit the next morning. The next day we exited the jungle and soaked in a beach front hot spring before heading back our bungalow. That night we walked around the village and met a local who we drank Kava with before heading back to our bungalow. The next morning we took the coolest flight path I will ever experience before heading back to Port Vila for our final 4 days in Vanuatu.


Our last few days we explored waterfalls, rivers and went snorkeling where my wife was able to mail out some postcards underwater before spending our final night watching a local fire dancing show.


In all Vanuatu was a beautiful country that could really use foreign investment and I was glad that I was able to experience such a kind culture based off lacks living and nights full of Kava drinking. Would I go back?......YES!!!

After Vanuatu my wife and I spent a week on the North Island of New Zealand near Rotaroua and lake Taupo. She was an exchange student for a year there 15 years back and we enjoyed the some rugby, pies, thermal pools and visiting old friends. On our last day we drove around the Corramandel Penninsula where we followed the hordes of tourist to a Hot Spring beach before heading off to the airport and heading down to Christchurch on the South Island.


After spending a night visiting friends in Chch we were off to show my wife the club field mentality at Mt. Olymus and Mt. Cheeseman. We were hoping to ski a bit longer but the weather wan't cooperating so we drove down to Mt. Cook village for a small weather window and walked up to Hooker Lake and took in the view of Mt. Cook before driving down to Lake Ohau where we intended to ski the next day. When we woke up the next morning it was still cloudy in the alpine so we decided to head down to Milford to take advantage of a small chance for clear weather. That night we watched the sunset over Milford sound and stayed at a RV park before taking the first boat in the morning for an hour ride around the sound and leaving right as the weather started coming in. For our last few days we went to Wanaka and skied at Treble Cone where I met up with my friend Lorenzo and we did a ski tour before my wife and I did a day trip hiking up the Matukituki. Our last night together we stayed in Queenstown and at 9:30 in the morning she was dropped off at the airport and I was on my own for the next two months.


I was able to meet up with my friend Adam and we went on a heli accessed touring going up and over the Remarkables to Lake Hope in the range. We set up camp for the day and hiked around finding some nice couloirs where we could access 3 runs from 1 bootpack before heading back to camp, eating dinner and going for a sunset lap. The night we took in the stars before heading to bed and listening to the wind pick up overnight. The next morning the decision was made that we should get out as the weather was deteriorating and made a haste exit via south Wye Creek which was quite a epic!!


After that I took a bus to Christchurch where I stayed with a friend for a week as I set up a car rental and explored the hills around Sumner and went to Mt. Fyfe next to Kiakora with his girlfriend and her friend, both named Kaisa and both from Finland. We stayed at the Mount Fyfe hut where we got soaked in the sunset and sunrise before heading to the summit the next morning. Two years back this area experienced an earthquake which jolted the summit up an additional meter and the hills were covered in landslide paths.


After the Fyfe trip I rented a Prius so I could save on fuel and headed North to the Marlbrough sound and got onto the Queen Charlotte track at its highpoint and followed the trail up to the Scenic lookout and pitched my camp for the night. From my viewpoint I could see the lights of the North Island at night and the ferry traveling between the islands. The next morning another American showed up weirdly from Seattle and we both watched the sunrise and he was kind enough to drive me back to my car 15kms away.


Once leaving the Marlbrough sound I drove through Nelson, grabbed a Starbucks coffee and headed to Kahurangi national park where I hiked up to Mt. Arthur Hut. From the hut it gave me access to the summit and a great view of the Tasman Bay. Over the next day I took in the sunrise than hiked to the summit and snowboarded the main face before returning to the hut and once again stayed the night hanging out with another American. That last morning I watched the sunrise before hiking back to my car and driving west to Paporoua National Park.


I arrived at the trailhead just outside of the old mining town BlackBall and hiked up to the Les Clark hut starting an hour before sunset and arriving at a full 16 person hut 2 hours later. The first night was my best chance of good weather so with a full hut I decided to sleep on top of the highest point Mt. Ryland with nothing but a sleeping bag. I woke up to rain and thick fog two hours before sunrise and slowly and carefully made my way back to the hut as a front was coming in from the NW for the next 2 days. Over the next few hours everyone slowly left and I had the place to myself as the rain poured and spent the time reading War and Peace. On the second day I checked the weather forecast (yes I had internet access) and saw a small weather window for 4 hours starting at Sunrise so I made it an early night and got on the trail an hour before sunrise. On the last morning I hiked up to the closest summit and watched as the sun graces the hill side before hiking 5kms along the ridge to Mt. Hector and followed a trail through the bush and back to the parking lot and started driving to Hokatika.


Once in Hokatika I drove to the Mt. Brown trailhead which can be done as a loop track. I saw a car in the main parking lot so decided to drive to the other trailhead 2 kms away before starting the trail. The next two hours were one of the most dangerous and exposed hikes I've ever experienced as I clawed up an old glacial moraine now covered in thick bush climbing holding onto roots along the way finally reaching the bushline as the clouds started lowering. I had hoped for a good sunset as it's supposed to be one of the most scenic huts in NZ but the weather didn't agree with me. The next morning I woke up to a dusting of snow before hiking down the main trail happy I didn't attempt returning down the same trial. It was steep and muddy but at least it wasn't exposed.


From there I drove 20 minutes to the Toturoa River trailhead and hiked up to Cedar Flats hut which had a 10 minute hike to a hot spring where I soaked and took a much needed bath. The next morning I hiked further up the river past a beautiful gorge and went up Adventure Ridge and stayed the night in a beautiful alpine biv. The next morning I took in the sunrise before hiking back to my car and driving down to Franz Joesph.


I was being chased by a huge NWerly storm and had hoped to be able to run into the Welcome Flats hut but DOC had closed the trail for potential flooding. The storm and started and I scoured my maps until I ran across the Blue River hut. I drove south and hiked an hour to the hut and enjoyed the shelter as the rain poured and rivers rose, leaving the hut two days later at the tail end of the storm and spent that afternoon finding out the trail was still closed but payed for my accommodation for the Welcome Flats hut for the next two nights. That night I stayed at a hostel and charging all my batteries and washing my clothes.


After a night at a hostel i woke up an hour before sunrise and drove out to a beach near the town of Fox that gave me a clear view of Mt. Cook and after watching the sunrise I drove out to the Welcome Flats trail. I was hoping to good weather and views as I was hiking up the trail but that wasn't the case. Compared to many other trails it was well maintained as it has been used for more than a hundred years. I arrived early and had the hot spring to myself for an hour before the hut started filling up and spent the night trying to decide what to do the next day as I booked 2 nights. The second day I decided to hike up valley in hope to get a good view of Copland Pass. After 3 hours of hiking up valley I finally got a view but it was obscured by clouds so I waited for a few hours before heading back to the hut for a early night as I intented on leaving around an hour before sunrise. The final morning I woke up, ate breakfast and soaked in the hotspring one final time before heading onto the trail at 5 am as I had a long drive ahead of me.


Once I got to the trailhead I drove down to Te Anau and after about 6 hours of driving I made it to the Kepler track just before sunset and jogged 2.5kms to the Moturau hut in the rain. I arrived at a 40 person hut on the beach and had it all to myself as I cooked dinner in the dark and woke up to take in the sunrise over Lake Manapouri before heading up to the Luxmore hut to take in a two day weather window. It was early September and the crux of the trail was still covered in snow so once the 40 person alpine hut was filled with people there was a lot of anxiousness. That next morning I watched the sunrise before hiking the 6kms of alpine section to the Hanging Valley shelter and waited for the groups to make there way across the snow covered stretch before hiking back to the Luxmore hut that night and taking in the sunset while I made dinner on the summit and returning to the hut in the dark.


I woke up at 3 in the morning and hiked down the trail back to the car so I could pick up my friend Ben at the Queenstown Airport at 9:30. Once I picked him up we drove over to Wanaka, grabbed some food from New World grocery store and headed up to the Matukituki valley. We were in a race with the sunlight and paced our way to the turnoff for the Liverpool hut trail as darkness came in and clawed our way up a sketchy, exposed trail making it to the Liverpool Hut at around 11p.m. The next morning we woke up and attempted to climb Mt. Barff. The weather came and went and Ben was still a bit tired so we decided to ride back two hours before sunset. We got enticed by a gully and descended it realizing we were in the wrong area and we didn't have enough light to get back so decided to sleep under a rock and start moving at dawn. In all it wasn't a bad night and went surprising fast but we were happy to be back at the hut at 10 am and crashed waking up before sunset and realized we didn't have enough time to leave so we stayed. The next morning we got slammed with a NWerly storm so decided we would wait it out and leave the next morning. That day we carefully used fuel and food and Ben got caught up with is sleep. The next day we woke up to find that the snow level had lowered an additional 100 meters below the hut making the Liverpool trail covered in 10cms of snow in the worst possible area, an exposed rock slab area was now covered in snow. Around noon it became obvious that the snow wasn't going to melt so we put on crampons and slowly climbed back down to the valley. Through my Delorme I had found out the next day was going to be significantly worse so we pushed back to the trailhead and stayed the night at a hostel in Wanaka.


We woke up to find that the freezing level had lowered significantly and happy that we got out of the Liverpool hut when we did as we would have been stuck up there for days. We made the decision to head up to Mt. Cook Village and skip an approach by riding a Heli up the 26km long Tasman glacier. Our friends Louie and Julia were in town so we made a crew as we flew onto the Glacier and stayed at the Kelman Hut for the next 3 nights. This was my 4th time on the Glacier so I showed them around in heavy powder conditions from sunrise to sunset until it was time to head out via a ski plane back to the village.


Once back in the village we paid our fees and I set up a boat ride in and out of the Milford Track before we drove all day back down to Te Anau where Ben and I stayed in a hostel. The next morning the crew met up at 8a.m. and we took a speed boat out onto the Milford treck and were blown away by how beautiful of an area it was. People have been hiking the trail for almost 150 years and they have been calling it the "Most beautiful trail on earth" and though maybe not the most it was definitely up there. Once again the forecast had called for a few hour clearing the second day so we made it up to Micinnon Pass and waited for the thick clouds to blow away over the next few hours. Once it did I was amazed by how steep the surrounding mountains were and took a quick detour to Southerland falls (the biggest waterfall in NZ) before heading to the hut for our final night. The last day we hiked past beautiful waterfalls and vertical mountains arriving at our exit boat around noon arriving back in Te Anua around 4 and drove up to Wanaka as Ben had a flight out of Chch the next day at 3p.m.


On Bens last day I drove from Wanaka to Chch, dropped him off than headed to Lewis Pass where I jogged to the Cannibal River Hut and stayed the night. The next morning I drove back up to Kahurangi National Park and hiked up past the Mt. Owen hut and enjoyed a star covered sky from a rolling peak within eyeshot of Mt. Owens summit. The next morning I took in the Sunrise and hiked through limestone crevasses to the summit where I met a local who offered to take me down the south side and drive me back to the N side that afternoon. I followed him over beautiful formations as he explained how the area had the biggest cave network in all of NZ which much is still unexplored. It was a strikingly beautiful area and I was happy to follow him down the exposed subclimbers trail back to his car before driving back and spending the night sleeping in the back of my Prius.


For my last hiking trip I started driving early as I was going back to the Canterbury highlands within eyeshot of Chch. I drove to an area called Erewhon that I had always wanted to visit since I read the Samuel Butler book "Erewhon" and camped on the summit of Mt. Harper viewing the Southern Alps above me and the Rangitata river below me. The next morning was windy so I watched the sunrise and left before 8 am and after checking out Erewhon Station I stayed my final night in NZ with my friends Chris and Kaisa before heading on 4 flights back to Rovaniemi right as winter was starting to grip the Arctic.


I ended up spending most of my time hiking as there are so many places to explore and I wanted to see some of these places. If I was to snowboard there would be no reason to go into the areas and being solo I felt it was the best thing to do. In the end I had a blast and if someone asked the highlight of my trip......Sorry but it had to be the lava filled volcanoes of Vanuatu!!

I hope you enjoyed and if you have more specific questions about any of these areas please ask.

P.S. if you want to see this is in different format as well as other traveling photos check it out at KyleMiller411 on Instagram.

P.S.S. Last spring I finish a decade long goal of Splitboarding from Mt. Baker to Rainier and hope to post something soon.‌
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awilsondc
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PostFri Nov 16, 2018 7:37 am 
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Holy smokes, what a journey!  I'm only half way through, I'll finish the rest after work but dang!  Looking forward to that Baker to Rainier trip too.  Thanks for sharing!  up.gif  up.gif  up.gif
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Stefan
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PostFri Nov 16, 2018 8:51 am 
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Kyle Miller strikes again!  Wonderful!

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Art is an adventure.
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iron
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getting old
PostFri Nov 16, 2018 10:02 am 
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you need to get out more often

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man, you go through life, you try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch 'em in the face, and for what?

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silence
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PostSat Nov 17, 2018 8:23 am 
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I love that you tied all your great adventures and photos together here. Awesome ride bud!  up.gif  up.gif  up.gif  up.gif  up.gif

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PHOTOS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/33792231@N00/sets
FILMMAKING: http://www.crestpictures.com/

Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb. Bob Dylan
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ale_capone
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PostSat Nov 17, 2018 8:37 am 
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A+. looks like a rad, varied trip. way to mix it up!

Funny... I was at Ben's yesterday. he made no mention of sleeping under a rock. something happen you guys arent supposed to talk a bout? wink.gif
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kyle miller
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PostSat Nov 17, 2018 9:21 am 
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Thanks very much for the kind words. I actually check this website every time I miss the Cascade Mountains, which is almost daily.
Weird Ben didn't talk about it as this bivy was much easier than my last one which just so happened to be with you Ale wink.gif

Looking forward to being back in the Cascades in December!
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Bushwacker
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With my girlfriend
PostSat Nov 17, 2018 2:11 pm 
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Wow!!!!!!!

Outstanding adventure!
Thanks for sharing.

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"Wait by the river long enough and the bodies of your enemies will float by"...Sun Tsu
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moonspots
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PostSat Nov 17, 2018 3:33 pm 
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awilsondc wrote:
Holy smokes, what a journey!

That's what I was thinking! Quite the most interesting vacation ever, I'd have to guess.

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"Out, OUT you demons of Stupidity"! - St Dogbert, patron Saint of Technology
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ale_capone
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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 5:43 am 
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kyle miller wrote:

Weird Ben didn't talk about it as this bivy was much easier than my last one which just so happened to be with you Ale wink.gif

Looking forward to being back in the Cascades in December!

e bivys are under rated.
I've slept over 17,000 nights. will never forget that one!

the only other unexpected stay was a time out on the side of kyes with josh lewis. no comparison. it was like 60. chilly at best.

hurry up and Finnish raking the Forest. it's going to start snowing.
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silence
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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 11:55 am 
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are you guys talking about the Goode bivy?

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PHOTOS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/33792231@N00/sets
FILMMAKING: http://www.crestpictures.com/

Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb. Bob Dylan
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kyle miller
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PostThu Nov 22, 2018 10:21 am 
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Yes we are!!
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