A Fowler Wind Blows (Part Two). Fowler Pass Track.

“On a Mish” #375 A Fowler Wind Blows (Part Two). Fowler Pass Track. St James Conservation Area. 3.6.2023. Pre 2007 I wouldn’t consider spending time in the mountains as a ‘fun’ pastime. I was more into vehicles and high velocity. Unfortunately it would take the loss of two close whanau members and a back injury for me to realise tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to anyone, so the best thing to do is enjoy today. Recently my days have been getting better and better, but unfortunately I would get a cruel awakening of my current capabilities at the top of a windy pass in Northern Canterbury…

Pre 2020 I set my life up to be able to go into the mountains as often as possible. Wherever life took me I would find mountains nearby, and then go on a mish. Of all the mountains it was the Fiordland peaks and valleys I would grow to love the most. My love led me to buying a house in the closest town, Te Anau. The town’s close proximity to Fiordland means missions are plentiful and with a good job in Patea / Doubtful Sound I had at least the next five or so years planned out. Things looked pretty sweet for me until firstly a wave threw a fridge door my way. Then secondly a pandemic would cause all sorts of issues with my recovery. My five year plan disappeared with a bang!

My working and outdoor life was thrown out of the window, and it has taken years for me to get back to going on adventures, small to start with. And then with a ton of painful rehab I could do a little bit of hiking / camping again, but up until this point those hikes have been rather short or camps near my car. The odd time I have walked myself well past breaking (or rebreaking) point or carried too much weight on my back, even if just for a short amount of time. These partly foolish forays have taught me a harsh lesson of what I can and can’t currently do, and I am happy to say that what I can do has increased overtime. This has done wonders for my mental health because as I sure you can imagine, taking the mountains away from a mountaineer has been a particularly tough pill to swallow and out of all the meds I have been on lately it is still by far the worst on my mental throat.

Climbing Our Way Up the Fowler Valley

The increase in activity combined with the whanau trip to Hanmer had me planning an adventure up to Fowler Pass. The track to the pass is an old pack track and at the gentle incline plus the fact that we would get to a named pass looked perfect and we would tackle the tackle on the first full day of the trip.

June in the mountains of Aotearoa is usually very cold, and on the day we drove along the Tophouse Road into the St James Conservation Area a fowl wind cooled the countryside into a frozen state.

The mission team consisted of myself and my parents, plus two dogs. My sister’s dog Blue, and of course the outing’s self-appointed leader Ernest D Wilson.

We unloaded gear and hounds, then prepared for a hike in a very cold breeze. The wind chilled us to the bone and when broken the pains seem to ache much more than usual. I had estimated it would take us roughly two hours to travel the 8ish kilometres up to the pass. It was great to be out in the mountains and it was time to see how far the recent repairs to my vehicle for travelling through this life could take me…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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