The Milford Track Day 3: We've Only Just Begun.

Writing about my Milford Track journey has been anticlimactic, words failing to capture the now laughable [then dangerous] mishaps and jaw-dropping awesomeness. But I'll share some things I wrote in my journal. That's right, I wrote some things with pen and paper just like I used to as a kid. Just don't ask me to write in cursive because I don't remember how. 

April 9, 2011
Second night of sleeplessness, thanks to the lively chorus of snorers and the overpowering stink of sweaty clothing.  I woke before my alarm, again, and not so quietly gathered all my belongings and went to the kitchen. There is no possible way to exit the bunk rooms discretely, so I made all my noise at once and raced out before anyone could see me.  

The Milford Track Brochure published by the DOC [that I studied closely-ish] purports the climb over Mackinnon Pass to be a long and tough 14km: "For many walkers, this is the most difficult part of the track."  Since I am physically unstable from the herd of the elephants I packed in my bag, my goals for the day are to appreciate all things big and small, to not be the one airlifted out of here, and to be at the Dumpling Hut before dark.  I left at about 7:15am, just after sunrise.

The eerie morning mist settled above the trail as I began the hike uphill. Carefully calculating my path through the rocky terrain, I slowly traversed the mountainside, pausing at switchbacks to rest for a few seconds.  About two hours in, nearing the summit, I cleared the tree-line and was enveloped in a dense fog rapidly changing colors from grey to blue to orange.  As I watched the sun fight to dominate the sky, mountain peaks appeared in the distance, their bases cut off by thick clouds.  It was like looking into another dimension, the wall disintegrated and a new world materialized ... right ...  there. Next to me, in the middle of nowhere, by myself, a whole new world. Does anyone else see this?

The fog sank into the valley and the bright sunshine conquered Mackinnon Pass.  A fogbow exploded from the mountain and come on New Zealand, really, now you are just showing off.

After a short break at the Mackinnon Pass Day Shelter, I tackled the miserable descent and all of its treachery. The brochure was right, it was difficult.  In fact, it was brutally destructive on every joint in my body and was insistent on toppling me, rolling me down a hill, and throwing me off a cliff.  I kept repeating my mantra though, "I will not be airlifted out of here," evaluated the placement of every footstep, and balanced my overweighted body on the "uneven, rocky terrain." Although I was one of the last to arrive at the Dumpling Hut, the sun was still out, there were no helicopters coming for me, and I had a truly thrilling day.

 Entering the String Bean Forest.

Danger: Mackinnon Pass.

 Good morning sunshine. 

Fogbow: it's sort of like a rainbow but in fog.

 Summit reflections.

Looks like an ocean but it's fog settled in the valley.

Nesting Weka.

 Spider webs fall. 

Blue pools.

 Closest I have ever been to a full rainbow. 

Southerland Falls: New Zealand's tallest waterfall, 580m.