Lake Wilson – Great Lake, Great Name (Part One)

“A Mish a Day” #26 Valley of the Trolls / Lake Wilson – Part One. Mt Aspiring National Park. 20.4.2012. When walking the Routeburn Track from Lake Mackenzie no matter what the weather is doing the hike from Harris Shelter to Falls will always deliver. Spectacular views will greet you once you have crossed over the Saddle. Usually the cloud sticks on the west side of the Harris Saddle(1255m), meaning for some the first grand views of the day are of Valley of the Trolls and the surrounding area. The waterfall tumbling down from Lake Wilson into the small valley, Mt Xenicus(1912m) and Lake Harris is a desktop screensaver for many, and was what I looked at when starting up my computer for years!

I tend to get tied up when someone asks ‘which is your favourite hike?’ I always like a new adventure so my answer is “A hike I haven’t done yet”, but if forced to make a decision I always tend to say the Routeburn Track is my favorite. Crossing over the saddle 124 times as a guide means many times I have looked into the Valley of the Trolls, and many times I have dreamed of spending a night there and visiting Lake Wilson. With both of us having a couple of days off between shifts Ultimate Hiking, my wunderbar fellow outdoors enthusiast Jules Kepp had the genius idea of visiting the lake with my last name and camping in the Valley of the Trolls. There was a thick layer of cloud covering the big peaks when we arrived at the Routeburn Shelter around midday. The weather is what your attitude is towards it. If you call it bad weather then you’re probably gonna have a bad time. We weren’t going to let some cloud upset our adventure so it was packs on backs and feet on the track.

We ran into the guided group and it was a real display of how much we (the track guides) love the area for the lucky customers walking the track that day. The forest in the Routeburn Valley is a perfect combination of trees and ferns. A sight I never tire of is the first glimpse of Routeburn Falls at Routeburn Flats. The golden grasses are surrounded on all sides but forward by towering mountains, with some peaks hidden by the steepness of the lower near-vertical walls. The centerpiece of the picture is Routeburn Falls cascading it’s way through the mountains before it becomes the Route Burn (river) at the base of Mt Xenicus(1912m). The real climb into the alpine zone begins at the top end of the flats, and it is a good grunt uphill to the epic location of Routeburn Falls Hut / Lodge. All of this and we hadn’t even got to our planned destination of Valley of the Trolls! We stopped in to say hello to our work mates at the lodge, and then pushed on into the alpine wonderland above the lodge / hut. In the old days guided walkers used to be taken into the Valley of the Trolls on their rest day at Falls Lodge and the beaten in track still remains. This makes it easy to get down into the valley from the Harris Saddle(1255m). We made our way through the tarn dotted bog above Lake Harris, and now we were finally in the home of the Routeburn Track trolls. It was now well into the afternoon, so we found a campsite, pitched the tent, then took in the epicness. Above was our next challenge, the scramble up to Lake Wilson and an early-ish start the next day will be needed…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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