Lights in the Darkness (Part Three) – Green Lake Hut (Borland Road Route)

“On a Mish” #104 Lights in the Darkness (Part Three). Green Lake Hut (Borland Road Route). Fiordland National Park. 14.10.2019. There have been a few times where I have misjudged time to a hut or summit and my lack of good judgement has taken me down sorry street. A thing I love / hate about a good remote mish is how you can’t just give up halfway through. If the going gets tough get up and over it because usually sitting still is a death sentence. On the odd occasion in the wild and many time while guiding I have come across ill prepared parties who have entered the outdoors without the right gear, knowledge or as in this instance without enough time to finish their hike before they would need their lights for the darkness…

My soon-to-be-fellow hut-mates had taken much longer than expected to cover the distance from when I forest saw them to when they stumbled onto the hut’s veranda. Of the five, three looked overly thankful they had found shelter and warmth, while the other two just investigated the space in front of their eyes. I had stoked up the fire when I first saw the lights in the darkness so by the time they entered their home for the night the place was toasty warm. Their ordeal was over, and now they could finally start to get some warmth back into their blood.

Dry clothes were the priority, and then after boiling the billy and getting warm drinks into everyone’s hands the group’s leader started explaining how starting as late as they did probably wasn’t the best idea. The team had done a few great walks and they had always blitzed the time stated on the tracks sign. This is a mistake made by many when they go from the well-manicured motorways that are New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’, to a rough and tough wild track that usually only get used by the experience. I’m glad the boys had survived their rough introduction to real track times!

It wasn’t long before they warmed up and some of them didn’t even eat much if anything before the idea of sleep became too great and they retreated to the warmth of their sleeping bags. I chatted with their leader for a little while longer and he explained how they had been slowed by an open snow field after a big climb. It took me a while to work out where he was talking about, and then I realized he was talking about the grassy saddle I had crossed the day before. Within the day or so of me being there the snowstorm had buried parts of the track, and these dudes had barged their way through. I’m guessing that wasn’t mentioned when the idea of hiking to Green Lake Hut was brought up!

Early-ish the next day I was awake and getting ready to depart before first light. The hut was alive with the sound of the tired team working together in an excellent display of synchronized snoring. Apart from me, nobody else was even close to being awake, and fair enough as they had had a rather interesting hike into the hut! I loaded up the fire to keep the hut warm and then said a muted farewell to my exhausted American friends. It was time to begin my mish back to my car.

I wanted to make my wintery walk a loop by heading from the hut to the Borland Road and then follow the road around to my car. The trek was going to be a long one and the snow on Borland Saddle made progress slow. But hey at least it was very pretty to look at!

I eventually made it all the way down the road to Borland Lodge, and it was at the lodge that I took the Burnt Ridge Track back to my car. The Burnt Ridge Track would be a delightful wander any other time but for me it never seemed to end.

I finally spotted my car after a hike of well over thirty kilometers. I finished the loop and jumped into my car to celebrate my victory. I was tired but nowhere near as tired as my friends back at Green Lake Hut. As I began my drive back home to Te Anau, I recalled my encounter with the lights in the darkness and how relieved those lights owners were when they got to the hut. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they were still fast asleep and hadn’t moved a muscle in the time it had taken me to hike back to my car. Please be careful with hiking times team. From experience I can say it is much better to be in the hut then stumbling around in the dark looking for the bloody thing!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter