Hanging out with Chamois – Cirque Creek Headwall

“A Mish a Day” #189 Cirque Creek Headwall. Fiordland National Park. 1.12.2019. I highly recommend being a passenger when travelling on the Milford Road for the first time. The ever changing incredible scenery can be so mesmerizing that one can be stunned into a zombie like state, drooling at the mouth watering views (not good when driving). The difference between the mountains of the Eglington Valley and Upper Hollyford Valley is huge. But both offer completely different landscapes to fascinate the mountain lover’s eyes. The Eglington Valley is a wide and grand place, with sculpted pyramids gradually rising out of the lower tussock-covered valley floor, and forest-clad mountainsides. After climbing over the Divide the landscape changes to deep valleys with all the mountains standing upright like giant skyscrapers on a busy street in a big city. The short Upper Hollyford Valley only has a couple of side valleys. The most famous of these is the Gertrude Valley, near the Homer Tunnel.

Another option for a mish is a small easily accessed, and yet rarely visited valley, Cirque Creek. More like an over-sized gap or crack between Mt Christina(2474m) and the many peaks of Mt Crosscut. The valley is reached by crossing the Upper Hollyford River near Sinks Bridge. I was in the unusual situation of not having a car that I was willing to take down a rough, shingle road to a track head. So I turned my attention to the beautifully paved path of the Milford Road. After parking on the side of the road I looked down at the icy waters of the Hollyford River, knowing that I would be feeling the refreshing pleasure of crossing it in a few seconds. The crossing wasn’t as cold as I had expected, and I warmed up quickly as I made my way into the small Cirque Creek Valley.

The travel to the headwall of the valley is straight forward, and the excitement of reaching the top of the valley outweighs the strain on the legs from the increasingly steepening ground. I found a waterfall cascading down the granite at the valley’s headwall, with the water being some of the best liquid I have ever tasted. It could easily be sold for $50 a bottle overseas! At slightly under 1500 metres the gain in height is surprising, and somehow not that taxing on the legs. With the reward of an insane view of the mountain giants that line the western side of the Milford Road. I watched a lone Chamios make its way down the snow of the natural avalanche funnel at the top of the valley, and then I quietly followed. The old soft snow made for a quick descent, as I could slide large sections, as I made my way back towards the Milford Road. Back at my car it was flip-flops replacing my soaking wet boots, still dripping from the re-crossing of the Hollyford River. Followed by the drive back to Te Anau with the other lucky motorists on one of the greatest roads on the planet…

Chamois in Cirque Creek

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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