Overly Ambitious (Part Two). Hanging Valley Camp.

“On a Mish” #258 Overly Ambitious (Part Two). Hanging Valley Camp – Part Two. Deep Cove. Fiordland. 18.12.2017. Any sort of walking is training, even if you don’t reach your desired destination. Every now and then the destination might change during a mish, but that won’t take away from that fact that you are out and about sucking in the fresh mountain air. On my first adventure into the place that would become my second home Mother Nature told me my mish was a little bit overly ambitious…

After years of working in glacial carved valleys I was now at the head of a flooded one. Deep and steep is very common in Fiordland and once near the coast the sea gets involved in the action of forming the fiords. The mixture of forest, mountain and water makes for a very inviting location and it is easy to see why so many people (myself included) fall in love with this very remote part of Aotearoa.

My love with the area was very new when I found myself in Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound on a beautiful sunny day. With visions of camping up near Lake Troup I set off on my adventure. Today will be a good day.

The Hanging Valley Track leads hikers into a false sense of security as the first section is relatively flat. This changes drastically further up the track. Within about ten minutes it goes from flat and easy to steep and challenging. Simple steps are replaced with uphill grunts and groans. In places just walking won’t do. To make any forward progress you will need to use both feet and hands.

I was pumped about being in a new place that had all of the things I need when going on a mish x1000!

After a scramble with a full camping pack I needed a water break and luckily not far up the track you exit the forest. I paused on a rocky outcrop and consumed the epic view across Deep Cove at Helena Falls and the large valley above it. Ironically I was standing very close to the Mount / Lake Troup Track turn-off.

It seemed as if my pack’s weight was increasing as I climbed higher and the hot day wasn’t helping the comfort levels. At least I was in a place that always fascinates!

Because I had never hiked the trail I did a lot of map studying and because of my research I knew getting to the magnificent Huntleigh Falls was not the way to Mt Troup. I had a mix of amazement and frustration. As I gazed at the water thundering down from the lake I was supposed to be at I realised at some stage I had missed the Troup turn-off. At least the weather was on my side.

I began to descend the track, and after a while I was getting closer to the flat area at the start of the track. I turned around and began to head uphill again. Once again I got near the falls, and realised I not only had a problem but also couldn’t keep going up and down the track all day. Having not found the track I went with plan B and crossed over the creek below the falls and then proceeded to bash my way up through the dense bush. After about 30 minutes of my pack constantly getting tangled in the foliage and the foliage putting up a fierce fight I decided that today was not the day I’d climb Mt Troup.

Now with a new plan of camping near the falls I had to clamber back down through the forest to get back to the track.

After getting to the falls I found that the only flat spot in the entire area was covered in driftwood, a lot of driftwood. After about 45 minutes I had cleared an area big enough for me to squeeze my tent into. Now comfortable in my very unusual spot it was time to relax and enjoy the spoils of my overly ambitious failure. In Fiordland sometimes a fail can also be a win!

I wasn’t alone at my Huntleigh Falls campsite as I had the company of a Weka who was wondering what somebody was doing in their territory.

Early-ish the next day I woke up to my tent shaking. Startled at first, I cautiously opened up the zipper to discover that Mr Weka was busy testing my tents guy wires! Along with the rare wildlife my morning view was one of nothing but gloriousness. The best way to start the day.

I packed up my tent in what can only be described as the perfect Fiordland morning. Slowly the area came to life as the sun crept over the mountains into the cloudless sky. After packing up it was time to say goodbye to my Weka friend, and then began the hike back down to Deep Cove, again!

Not long after returning to the real world I found out that the sign marking the start of the Mount Troup Track had been removed with force by a falling tree branch during a storm. Oh well, I didn’t achieve my initial overly ambitious plan but Fiordland was kind to me and I still got my much needed dose of mountain medicine!

Mr Weka

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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