Birthday Dinner in the Darrans (Part One) – Te Anau to the Cleddau Valley

“On a Mish” #282 Birthday Dinner in the Darrans (Part One). Te Anau to Cleddau Valley. Fiordland National Park. 8.6.2021. Some like to celebrate their birthday with all of their friends with a big party. I’d rather the peace and quiet found on a solo mish in the Fiordland Mountains. The two experiences couldn’t be any more different and there is nothing wrong with either, however the second option gives you the unique chance to have your birthday dinner in the Darrans…

After thirteen months on the sideline I had a go at doing my job (a slightly modified version) again and this meant I was spending my working time back in Fiordland. The place is inspiring and I was very grateful to be back in paradise. With that being said, getting hit by an industrial size fridge door on a cruise ship has altered the way I walk and given me long lasting pain in my hip and back.

While getting treatment and resting up in Christchurch I discovered how important the outdoors is to me. I got so much more satisfaction from going into the wild than the sixteen pills I was taking daily. My mini mission didn’t take me very far but it was far enough for me to get some mountain motivation.

With my life starting to get some sort of normalness to it I decided that I wanted to spend my birthday in the Darran Mountains. I had been on a few hikes with my camping gear and although it was painful, it was definitely worth it. Camping plus my favourite place on the planet would be my birthday party. I loaded up my camping gear and made sure I packed my hiking poles into my car. Usually hiking poles give you 4WD capabilities, however with my hip and back I knew I’d only be running with 3WD capabilities.

Driving up the Milford Road is a big reminder why I went through the rigmarole of getting a mortgage. The road takes you to the northern and western bases of the mighty Darran Mountain Range and to me there is no better location. The weather gods must have known someone in the Fiordland area was having a birthday, so the sky was blue and the air was still. This was going to be an epic mish.

My plan was to camp on the true left of the Cleddau River via the historic bridge found near the road. But before then I had to drive on one of the most scenic roads in the world. Long drives are not very fun when your hip and back are messed up. I had to stop a couple of times and with each stop I found world class scenery. It took a lot longer than normal, but I eventually found my way into the Cleddau Valley and the start of the track to the bridge.

Parked up. Pack on. Let’s go!

I followed the short track down to the river and was confronted by a very damaged and uncrossable bridge. This wasn’t part of my birthday dinner plan…

Plan B

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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