Swinging Through the Trees (Part Two) – Monkey Creek

“On a Mish” #72 Swinging in the Trees (Part Two) – Monkey Creek. Fiordland National Park. 27.2.2016. Happiness, mixed with an extreme sense of satisfaction, is having a valley to yourself after putting in the work to get there. There are few places on planet earth where you can go and be alone in a beautiful place. Fiordland is a such special place, because escape from civilisation is only a mish away, and most humans will go their whole life within arm’s reach of others, and never know the pleasure of escaping the rat race. I love explaining Fiordland remoteness to people when I guide, and to blow people’s minds with the reality of the lack of people is a satisfying part of the job. To combine remote, alone and the Darran Mountains is pushing the limits of awesomeness. Wandering the upper reaches of Monkey Creek was everything two Fiordland fanatics could ask for…

We made our way along the narrow corridor of the valley to a perfect flat spot on an old riverbed. The site was of very high quality, with a front door view of the queen of the Hollyford Valley, Mt Christina(2474m). From swinging in the trees like monkeys to roaming the open tussock like deer, we were in a wonderfully wild place.

It was time to set up our home for the night, and to make the floor of the tent soft and level we laid down a layer of tussock over the uneven, rocky valley floor for it to be pitched on. Creating comfort in such a special place was like whipped cream on top of an ice cream sunday!

After camp was set up we headed further up the valley to a group of giant waterfalls cascading down from a gut between Mt Park(2020m) and Students Peak(1913m). We scrambled up to the base of one of these epic falls and from the elevated spot we could see the mighty mountain at the head of the valley, Mt Charlton(2152m), and then dominating the opposite end was Mt Christina(2474m). The place was right up there with all of the other epic views I had seen in Fiordland.

As the afternoon turned to early evening the valley filled with fog, a regular occurrence in the valleys of Fiordland, and something to be aware of when hiking off track. The fog was no issue as we were ready for sleep, with satisfied legs and a mind full of mountain memories to digest. We retreated to the tent, and drifted off to sleep with the constant trickle of Monkey Creek providing the night’s relaxing soundtrack.

Early-ish the next morning I peeked out of the tent to see very little. I have always made it a habit to make a very obvious trail whenever venturing into untracked areas, sometimes using rocks to make rock cairns or by tying tussock into knots. Luckily we had marked our route, and this was crucial for finding the way back through the maze of fog, rocks and boulders. Carefully, with only the rock piles showing the way, we retreated out of Monkey Creek.

At the treeline we got glimpses of the road, and we could already see bus loads of people gathered at the car park. Once again Monkey Creek needed to be crossed to get to the car park on the other side, and the chilly water was soothing on our well used feet.

It is always funny to come back into contact with the outside world and the stares of the confused tourists, wondering ‘where have you come from?’ It didn’t take long to shake off the remoteness as we stood amongst the cars, concrete and civilization. At least we got to spend some time in Fiordland completely isolated, only a couple of hours wander away!

Leaving behind mattress of tussock at our campsite

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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