Winter’s Grip (Part Two) – Whiskey Trail Camp

“On a Mish” #52 Winters Grip (Part Two). Whiskey Trail Camp. Livingstone Mountains. Fiordland National Park. 5.8.2018. Winters grip can scare away people like a shady character in a dark alley. However, just like with the shady character (possibly) if you give winter a chance its snowcapped splendour may change your option. Facing the winter wearing many layers and a good hat is a good start, and then what you will need is a location with quality scenery. And from there if you have good gear then you have nothing to fear!

It was late afternoon by the time I had found a good spot and set up camp. The sun was quickly vanishing into Tasman Sea at the end of the Hollyford Valley. With my breath thick in the air, I cooked up some warmth for my belly and with one quick glance around made me agree that there is nowhere else I’d rather be. Although, around an hour later I was looking forward to the warmth of my sleeping bag.

When I woke up early-ish the next morning it was rather cold and a light snow was falling. I didn’t want to rush getting up. Unfortunately, the morning routine waits for nobody and by the time I was up it had cleared a little. My gas cooker acted as both heat for my coffee water and heat for my chilly fingertips. After smashing down an excellent breakfast I set off into the white wonderland above my camp for Peak 1543m.

Retracing my footsteps back to camp after whiteout conditions

Plugging steps into snow is a good way to warm up quickly and every time I stopped for a rest, I would look back to see my track of footprints in the deep snow along the ridge. Little did I know that the footprint track would be very important late on in the mish.

I pushed on upward into increasingly deepening snow and within about a minute it went from views down to the Hollyford and Greenstone Valleys to views of around 10 metres or so. It is in situations like this I am reminded of the times I have carried on all guns blazing and then had to regretfully retreat my way back to safety with great difficulty. Peak 1543m can wait till another time. I turned back and followed my snow trail, avoiding getting stuck in winters icy grip.

My at evening camp was so cold that the large tarn beside me that was acting as my water source completely froze over. I had to break through the ice several times in order to get water for cooking and drinking. It was safe to say that it was a little bit cold.

Early-ish the next morning I was up packing down quickly as I had some driving to do along with the hike back to the car so I could begin that drive. Luckily the cloud from the day before was gone and my way home was very straight forward. It didn’t take long, and my isolation was swallowed by the many out on the Key Summit Track. I’m not a fan of busy, but I am a fan of people appreciating the awesome scenery in Aotearoa. Even if it is a little bit cold outside!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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