Follow the Poop (Part One) – Waterloo Peak(1077m)

“On a Mish” #304 Follow the Poop – Part One. Waterloo Peak(1077m). Takitimu Conservation Area. 7.10.2021. When injuries give you limitations you have to work out the best way to work around what you are stuck with. Of course having injuries that restrict your movement is less than ideal for someone who frequently heads into the hills. Being frustrated can become a normal state of mind as you work out what you can and can’t do. Not being able to do what you love can be a little demoralizing, but doing nothing is not my style. Currently I am running at about 50%-60% of what I was before my hip accident. So with that in mind I have to plan my missions around my limitations…

Luckily I live in Te Anau, a place with mountains of all sizes. After wrecking myself on the Avalanche Creek Track I needed a few days away from the mountains to rest and recover. But like putting sweets in front of a kid, I knew the mountains that surround the town I live in would draw me back for more punishment. After a long absence I decided to head to the Takitimu Range and have a go at climbing one of the smaller mountains in the large range south east of Te Anau. Waterloo Peak stands at 1077m, so this seemed like an easy mountain for an old man… I was wrong.

The forecast was for rain developing in the morning and that meant an early-ish start was definitely needed. In the dark of the night I loaded up my car and began my mish. I powered my way across the paddocks towards Lower Princhester Hut and the Princhester Saddle Track, dodging the odd sheep that I had woken up. I grabbed my gear and started off, passing the hut in total darkness. I had a torch but didn’t use it and found moving through the darkness a good way to refine my route finding skills. There was a hint of light in the sky as I left the track and began to climb the north west ridge of Waterloo Peak(1077m). The lower parts of the forest were open with plenty of good animal tracks to follow, and although the steeper terrain was more taxing on my hip, the thrill of adventure helped soothe the pain. I found the easiest way to get through the forest was to stick to the poop. It was amazing how as long as I was spotting deer poop every couple of meters I was gaining altitude quickly. The ridge narrowed and became quite bluffy in parts, but as long as I kept to the poop I always seemed to find a way forward. There was definitely one steep section where the exposure had literally caused many of the animals to shit themselves! The bluffs had an obvious route which wasn’t difficult, but was on mossy rocks that only offered a few seconds of grip. After arriving on an easier angled slope I finally had a chance to take in the view of the Te Anau Basin through the trees of the upper forest. The morning sun was caressing the peaks of the Takitimu Range making them glow a glorious gold. Further west I could see the mountains of Fiordland, and behind was the dark clouds of the approaching rain…

Takitimu Range from the Treeline

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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