My New Home Away From Home – Glacier Burn Camp

“On a Mish” #79 My New Home Away From Home. Glacier Burn Camp. Humboldt Conservation Area. 11.12.2009. I am very thankful that I got the opportunity to work on the Routeburn and Greenstone Tracks. Not only was it good training for mission fitness, it also gave me plenty of opportunities to be in the wilderness. Motivation wasn’t hard to find as it would build while I was guiding, and then when my days off came I would be full to the point of spilling over with mountain motivation…

Over the years I have collected the equipment needed for visiting wild places, and a key piece of kit is my tent. My little orange tent has been used hundreds of times in all sorts of different terrain.

My father, by chance and coincidence, picked up my tent for a steal as it was an ex-display tent and was marked down a huge amount from its original price. After receiving it and working out how to set it up I was away for its first outing, and it was going to be a mish into the Humboldt Range.

Before leaving I knew there was a high chance of showers for the afternoon, which would gradually clear overnight. This was good enough for me so I took my new tent and headed for the top of Lake Wakatipu.

I was going to access the Humboldt Range via the Glacier Burn Track. The short, steep trail / valley cuts into the eastern side of the range, and sits under the remains of the Bryant Glacier (which can be seen from Glenorchy).

After parking my car on the side of the Greenstone Station Road (around the northern edge of Lake Wakatipu), I took on the first challenge of the mish which was crossing cold waters of the Glacier Burn itself. Starting with a river crossing eliminates the question of “I wonder if my boots will get wet”. After the icy encounter I headed into the beech forest at the base of the range and on to the beginning of the track.

The track passes through some excellent patches of beech forest before opening up into alpine scrub at the lower reaches of the very impressive Glacier Basin. The intimidating rocky tower of Mt Bonpland(2343m) definitely makes you feel like a mere mortal bowing at the feet of a great giant.

I found a good campsite a couple hundred metres above the treeline amongst the scrub. My practice paid off as I got my new tent up very quickly and after setting up camp I continued further up the basin towards the snowline and Bryant Glacier.

Almost as soon as I had left camp the rain arrived. Because this was predicted I just put my rain jacket on and kept exploring. I got as high as the bluffs which lead to the sad remains of the Bryant Glacier. The ice once came all of the way down to the lake, but nowadays it sits high up on the mountain and it has lost its white shine and now looks more like a dirty patch of rocks.

By the time I got back to my tent I was soaked, and after quickly changing I was glad to be in dry clothes and the safety of the tent. My new little shelter was doing an excellent job keeping the rain at bay. I spent the evening looking at maps and reading in the tent, so far it seemed to be an excellent addition to the collection of ‘Mish kit’.

Just before I went to sleep the rain eased off and stopped, and I got small glimpses of stars as the clouds began to clear. The sound of rain was replaced by the sound of the many waterfalls that tumble down into the basin.

Early-ish the next day I woke up in my new home away from home to complete stillness. I soaked in the atmosphere, just like how my tent had soaked up all of the rain, before sorting breakfast. Then I put my wet boots back on and packed up for the walk back down to my car.

The walk back down Glacier Basin was epic as I now had views across the Dart River to the peaks of the Richardson Mountains. Thick clouds had prevented me from seeing anything on my way up.

The new tent test was a success! I had a new home away from home and a busy life in the mountains was coming its way…

Richardson Mountains From Glacier Basin

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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