Modifying the Mish (Part One) – Gertrude Valley

“On a Mish” #321 Modifying the Mish (Part One). Milford Road / Gertrude Valley. Fiordland National Park. 21.3.2022. When the going gets tough it always feels like your brain is telling you giving up will be the best option. Unfortunately, I am sure there are many people out there that have had an injury and then “had to” or were ‘forced to’ give up their outdoor activities. Luckily for me, instead of hanging my hiking boots up and taking up knitting, I decided to enjoy the outdoors as best as I could do with my less capable body…

Whilst healing from my hip injury I have roughly worked out what I can and can’t do (at this stage of my recovery), and this has thankfully led me back into the outdoors to resume my 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 in Fiordland was fantastic and provided everything my mind needed to keep my wilderness addiction satisfied. However, the solid grunt up into the Falls Creek Valley, mixed with a camping pack, meant I suffered after finishing the mish. After a couple of weeks’ recovering the outdoor adventure cravings got too much and I needed to get back into the wilderness.

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

After my Falls Creek experience, I knew that I couldn’t go too far with my camping pack if I wanted to do anything else without great pain afterwards. I settled for another adventure into the Darran Mountains (my favourite place), a place normally associated with hard work, but I knew that if I modified my mish, I might be able to get a mountain mission in without over doing it.

My plan was to wander up the Gertrude Valley and camp at its head. 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). Not too far and not too steep.

With a good mix of cloud and blue sky above I loaded up and began driving north on the Milford Road. It was a Monday of no real significance, so I didn’t expect to see many people, but to my surprise the car park was packed. Along with some cars there were two large vans. A running club were also out enjoying the weather with a group jog up to the saddle. Here I was, unable to walk without limping, and these guys were running up the track! I did my best to not let that fact sink in too much, and focused on my own fun.

With a bright sun lighting up Fiordland I saddled my pack and hit the Gertrude Saddle Track. I could already fell the strain of the weight on my hip and back so I hoped that my modified mish would produce enough epicness to overshadow the discomfort I knew was coming my way…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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