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. Even when I was in my fittest state I still looked at the animals that roamed the mountain tops with jealousy. Not only can they use their legs to get them around steep terrain with ease. But they also use their noises to keep them on track and on the easiest route through the uplifted land. As my fitness returned after my hip accident I wanted to head higher into the hills and doing it via the easiest route was key. Oddly I would find the key to success on Waterloo Peak(1077m) by following poop…

Outdoor missions are plentiful around both Te Anau and Manapouri. This was one of the main reasons I bought a house in the incredibly beautiful and remote area. I was here before getting banged up, and I will definitely remain to live here (when possible) for a long time to come. After my accident I slowly recovered and began to do bigger (and better) missions. The wild wilderness is tantalisingly close and 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 back to the Takitimu Range and have a go at climbing one of the smaller mountains. The large range sits south east of Te Anau, and if anywhere else the collection of peaks would seem huge. But these mountains lay next to the near endless expanses of Fiordland National Park. Waterloo Peak is one of the smaller peaks in the range and standing at 1077m, it seemed like an easy-ish mountain for an old man with a limp.

The forecast was for rain developing late in the morning, and that meant an early-ish start was definitely needed if I wanted to stay dry.

In the dark of the night/pre-early-ish morning I loaded up my car and began my mish. I always love the stillness of morning, and how quiet the town is when most are still fast asleep.

In my mighty Cr-v I powered my way across the paddocks of Princhester towards Lower Princhester Hut and the Princhester / Waterloo Saddle Track. Unfortunately I woke some of the local sheep along the way. It was still dark when I parked up, and with haste and the speed of someone who would like to move faster, I grabbed my gear and started off.

I had a torch but didn’t use it. I found moving through the darkness a good way to refine my route finding skills. The world is a classroom and I am much more keen to learn here than back when I went to school!

There was a hint of dawn light in the sky as I veered off the track and began to climb the wooded north west ridge of Waterloo Peak(1077m). The lower parts of the forest were open with plenty of good animal tracks to follow. Although the steeper terrain was more taxing on my hip, the thrill of adventure helped soothe the inconvenience.

As the way got less straightforward 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 metres I was able to gain altitude quickly. A strange benefit of animal scat.

The ridge narrowed and became quite bluffy in parts. Once again I was in search of poop and once found I seemed to have a reasonable way forward. There was definitely one steep section where the exposure had literally caused many of the animals to poop themselves!

The bluffs had an obvious route which wasn’t difficult, but it was on damp mossy rocks that only offered a few seconds of grip. The risk of a tumble took my mind off my aches.

Above the bluffs I was into open ground for the first time. The elevation meant I could see most of the Te Anau basin which included the legendary lakes Manapouri and Te Anau. Further west I could see the magnificent mountains of Fiordland. I would have loved to have paused longer to admire the view but along with the mountains were the dark clouds of approaching rain, wind and the end to adventures above the treeline…

Takitimu Range from the Treeline

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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