Listening to the Silence of Snow (Part Three) – Mount Burns Tarns

“On a Mish” #395 Listening to the Silence of Snow (Part Three). Mount Burns Tarns. Fiordland National Park. 6.3.2024. I recently hiked a track that I used to use as a running trail for training. Before I could get too depressed about how slow I was going, I remembered how far I had come since a fridge door rearranged my life in all the wrong ways. I had a similar situation while hunting for epic snowy pictures above Borland Saddle. My mind was doing everything it could to make my legs move quicker, however my hip and back had other plans. At least while I walked, I could tune into the incredible silence created by the snowy environment…

It was still dark when I got above the treeline. At one stage I attempted to hike without the aid of my headtorch and I immediately went off course. I was exactly where I planned to be, but I wanted to be further up the track. It was a mix of frustration and amazement, luckily the amazement was strong enough to override how annoyed I was to be moving so slowly.

I crested the small mount in front of me and was confronted with a difficult decision. Which little lake do I visit first? Each of the tarns sat so still that the reflections couldn’t have been any better. I went from being angry with my hip to punching the air with happiness at the scene I was witnessing. And just like on so many missions into Fiordland National Park, I was the only one there reaping the rewards!

For the rest of my time above the treeline I kept creeping along the snow-covered track in the direction of Peak 1476m. I had climbed the mountain many times but, on this occasion, I just wanted to get as close as possible. This is when summit fever began to work its mind control on me. I pushed on to a small mound around 1km from the first group of tarns. The final climb to the small summit was a real test for me and once I got to the summit, I felt a sense of achievement that I have only felt a couple of times since my accident. It was awesome to be standing on a Fiordland Summit again, however now I had the formidable task of getting back to my car on Borland Saddle.

On my hike back to the Mount Burns Tarns I was aided by the steps in the snow from my morning quest. It was easier in most places but with time trickling on my speed was decreasing rapidly. I had to keep telling myself that the pictures I had taken during the morning were going to make the pain worth it. I limped my way back down to the saddle and had to have a little break before I returned to my campsite.

Back at camp I thought very seriously about my next steps. My original plan was to do another hike in the afternoon, but my body said no. The fact that the weather was changing as well made my decision easier, so with the sandflies beginning to chomp I packed up my camp and prepared myself for a return to society.

As I drove home my hip throbbed and my back ached. A lot of people would focus on the pain, but I was still buzzing from my incredible morning above Borland Saddle. Seeing snow in March is rare, so I was very happy I had forced myself into a situation where I could enjoy it.

Snow may turn most away from venturing out, but once you have heard the sweet sound snow makes, you will want to listen to it whenever possible. If safe to do so, I recommend you wrap up warm and take on a track after snowfall. The beauty was so enticing that for a while I forgot about my aches and pains, and when I got back home and looked at my pictures I was stoked with my efforts. The sound of the snow had convinced me to go on an excellent adventure which would last much longer in my mind than the pain in my back and hip. Fiordland had once again proved that magic is real!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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