Sunday, May 23, 2010

Reflections on the Journey So Far

Some people have asked me what were my favourite and least favourite parts. That is rather hard to answer because the country is so diverse and offer their own sets of challenges.

Easily the hardest section was the Westcoast from Aickens to the Whitcombe Pass. Rugged mountains, overgrown tracks, and continual boulder hopping up the Whitcombe.

The easiest sections were thru the Waiau/Lake Sumner areas and Mavora Lakes area.

The worst river crossing would have to have been the Rakaia tributaries, the Lyell and Ramsay. I hindsight, I shouldn't have crossed either, but I got away with it!

The best moment was when I arrived at Ailsa Pass above the Murchison Valley and saw the panorama of the mountains laid out before me.

Sone of the most satisfying days were when I crossed the Tasman & Hooker Glaciers and climbed their respective moraine walls, and crossed the Ball and Copeland Passes.

The most fearful day was when I went for a skate up the Harman River. Then having to climb back down without adequate equipment, knowing that if I stuffed up, it would have been all over. Ignorance is bliss! I did a snow and ice course after this.

The most beautiful valley was the Wilkin, with its turquoise pools and lovely mountain backdrop, and it no doubt helped that the weather was great too. But I also loved the Landsborough for its remoteness, diversity and ruggedness.

Lonely Lake and Adelaide Tarn in the Douglas Range would also be one of my favourites too.

The remotest feeling probably came when I was up the Okuru before crossing Maori Saddle, even though it's only 1.5 days from the road.

The most disappointing was crossing Cascade Saddle in foul weather and not being able to take in the views. Similarly, the Routeburn was the same. And I hated the continual noise of helicopters on the Routeburn as they were building a new lodge at the time. But that's what you get on Great Walks, people and noise!

Thanks to Erewhon Station for their hospitality, and I will always remember the lovely soft grass in front of the old homestead as well as the Clydesdale's working the paddocks.

The most apprehension came prior to crossing the Rangitata and climbing Alma Col, though they both turned out to be OK.

My favourite huts would have been those with an open fire, such as Lucretia Hut and the Lauper Biv. Also the Rubicon Rock Biv in the upper Landsborough was great.

The saddest part was losing my walking stick during my return home after TeWaewae Bay. I had it's company for the whole trip except the Westcoast section. It was made of Neinei which is strong but light. Having walked all that way with it, it becomes your companion and occasionally
I would find myself talking to it. I could not have got across many of the rivers without it.

I still think of the last section as a bit of a cop out. Skirting around the eastern edge of Fiordland is not even close to the challenge of traversing Fiordland west of Lake Manapouri and Lake Te Anau. Hopefully next year I will get to find out! I currently have one other person interested in joining me on this attempt. If you know of any others of a like mind, get them to get in touch with me through this blog.

And the best part of all. The more I see, I realise that there is so much more to see!

Cheers Andrew

2 comments:

Caren said...

Sounds awesome and inspiring, what a trip! Thanks for sharing. C

Matt said...

Great trip Andrew. I've walked down the Island myself but skipped the Alpine Section between Hokitika and Haast. I have however been down through Fiordland from Haast to Puysergur. Check my mate Tristan's site tristanriley.co.nz for route details for the section between milford and manapouri if you're still planning to repeat this section