Crying Wolfe (Part Three) – Turret Range Traverse

“On a Mish” #53 Crying Wolfe (Part Three). Turret Range Traverse. Fiordland National Park. 7.4.2019. Many times I had cruised the deep water of Lake Manapouri looking up at the peaks towering over West Arm. What starts as sheer steepness becomes tussock covered rolling tops which look like an alpine playground. But before you get to the swings you need to climb the monkey bars…

On the odd occasion I have been in situations where pushing reset would have been a much easier option. I’m guessing this is why I usually don’t bump into many people!

The torture of mid mish was in full effect and I already knew there was going to be a tale to tell, as long as survived. I was definitely going into survival mode as pulled at chunks of soil trying to find something to hold onto.

Eventually I saw the lip of the basin above, and knowing I was close to easier ground let me focus on the task at hand (literally) instead of fearing I was climbing into a trap.

Thankfully I got to a point where I didn’t need to use my hands and before I knew it I was striding through the tussock towards an easy ridge looking ridge. I was only at the very first peak of the traverse and the mission had already had its fair share of epicness.

After scrambling up the ridge I got my first view of the lake and the first view of its dark green water temporarily eased the strains and pains of the morning.

Near the High Point of my Mish

I continued west along the rolling tops with an incredible view down to West Arm where I started over 1000 metres below me. On this section I could see the very remote Lake Percy, tucked away in a large basin beneath the imposing cliffs of Mt Grey(1502m). Originally my plan was to climb Mt Grey(1502m), but after looking at the ridge from both the map and from below I could see that the ridge is cut in two by a deep cleft. After the ‘interesting’ start to the mish and knowing it was a steep down climb on rock, dirt and tussock, I saved Mt Grey(1502m) for another day.

I continued along the undulating ridge taking in each rocky summit along the way. It really couldn’t get any better and I had the emotional mix of enjoying the moment, but also wanting to finish so I could retell the tale with the same passion and enthusiasm I could feel flowing through me as I trekked triumphantly along the ridge.

The lumps of land took me west, then south, before turning east. The going was reasonably easy until I got to the base of the climb up to the biggest peak of the traverse. In front of me was a crumbly cliff with easier ground above. It seemed this was the recurring theme while on this mish.

After taking a few moments to assess what was in front of me I slowly made my way up the cliff using the rock and tussock for hand holds. At one point I got to a spot where going up would be pushing my abilities and I had to face the fact that I had to find another way up. Playing it safe meant down climbing (never much fun), then attacking the cliff from a different angle. With some effort I finally got above the bluff once again it was easy ground all the way up to Peak 1405m.

From the summit I could see all the way to the Te Anau Basin in the east, and to the west were the endless peaks of Fiordland. As far as mission climaxes go this was right up there with the best.

From the high point to get down to the road and the easy walk back to camp, I had to down climb a steep gully with a near vertical section. Holding onto tussock and other plants to aid my slow descent. It would seem my day was going to end the way it started!

Covered in dirt with the odd scratch and scape, I got to the bottom of the gully and then began my hike back to the tent.

With my tent in sight I knew my day was nearly over, and after powering down some tucker it was time to retreat to the warmth of my sleeping bag for some well earned shut eye.

I was up the next morning early-ish packing down the tent and I was joined by the same couple of Kea that had followed me the day before. It was as if they knew I was leaving and this was their only chance to play with someone else’s toys. They had fun messing with me and my gear, and it is safe to say they definitely slowed my packing up progress.

The hike back down to West Arm went by quickly and I got back to the wharf in time to jump on to the boat and clean up before the customers returned from their own mission. Together we began the cruise back to the real world with memories of Fiordland. As the boat sailed past the point where the Wolfe Burn joins Lake Manapouri I felt like crying out about my mish but I was much too tired and fell asleep before the boat could get up to its cruising speed!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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