Modifying the Mish – Gertrude Valley (Part One)

“On a Mish” #321 Modifying the Mish – Part One. Gertrude Valley. Fiordland National Park. 21.3.2022. When the going gets tough it is easy to give up. Unfortunately I am sure there are many people out there that have had an injury and then “had to” give up their pastime activities. This can give the old mental health a bit of a kick in the teeth and can lead to some dark times. Luckily for me, instead of hanging my hiking boots up and taking up knitting, I decided to see what I could do with my less capable body…

Over time I have roughly worked out what I can and can’t do (currently), and this has led me back into the outdoors for more adventures. Sometimes I push it to the limit and then struggle through the following days with nasty pain in my hip and back, but I would rather that than plan B, the couch. My last outing to Falls Creek was outstanding and provided everything my mind needed to relax. However, the solid grunt up into the Falls Creek Valley, mixed with a heavy camping pack, meant I suffered for about a week afterwards. After a couple of weeks’ recovery the cravings got too much and I needed to get into the wild and go on a mish. From my Falls Creek experience I knew that I couldn’t go too far with my full pack if I wanted to do anything else once at my campsite. With this in mind I settled for another adventure into the Darran Mountains (my favourite place), and this mish would take me to the head of the Gertrude Valley. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to haul my gear right up to the famous Gertrude Saddle(1410m) I aimed to camp under the west face of Barrier Peak(2039m).

Looking up the Gertrude Valley at the West Face of Barrier Peak(2039m)

With a good mix of cloud and blue sky above I loaded up and headed to the Milford Road. As it was a Monday of no real significance I didn’t expect to see many people, and the empty carparks at both Mirror Lakes and Eglington Flat didn’t prove me wrong. After rolling up and over the Divide(532m) I had to make my way through the distraction of some of New Zealand’s most visually appealing mountains before arriving at the Gertrude Saddle car park. Even though it was a random Monday the car park was packed, showing that others were out and about enjoying the epic day in paradise. There were two large vans in the car park so the place was going to be packed. However I had a plan to go to a place away from the masses. Now that the drive was over it was time for battle and as far as locations and weather, I couldn’t have asked for better! It is always a gamble when it comes to carrying a pack these days, and as I lugged my gear on to my back I knew this was going to be another challenging day out in the mountains…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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