Take Me to the April Sun – Mt Cuba (Part One)

“A Mish a Day” #24 Mt Cuba(1449m) – Part One. Fiordland National Park. 14.1.2019. Although I visit areas that might get a lot of foot traffic, I always do my best to do something outside of the box when there. There is something very special about going to a place that few have visited. We are lucky here in Aotearoa to have an incredible network of tracks that take the bush-bash out many missions on to the tops of the mountains. Then the moment you leave the track the real adventure begins. And as you get the odd strange look because you are wandering off track, the excitement begins to build…

I highly recommend the Caples Valley to Greenstone Valley loop, on a sunny day the view of Mt Christina(2474m) and the other Darran Mountain peaks from the McKellar Saddle(945m) is incredible and worth the climb to the saddle. Most of my adventures are on my own – due to a mix of enjoying my own company, and usually not putting a lot of effort into finding a mission buddy. But every so often I can find someone to share the adventure with, and this was the case on a mish to climb the unnamed Peak 1449m. With a short weather window Dylan McHardy and I decided to head to the McKellar Saddle(945m) on a camping expedition. The plan was to hike to the top of the saddle then head north along the ridge to an alpine campsite high above the Greenstone Saddle and the northern end of Lake McKellar. The stunning scenery of Fiordland is far from a secret, and as we drove into the Divide car park we were far from alone. The collection of people at the Divide is always interesting. There are fully laidened trampers readying themselves for a few days in the bush. Then there are the Piopiotahi / Milford Sound visitors, who couldn’t look any more different. I always find it funny when you have two people waiting in the bathroom line, one in heels, make-up, nails done and holding a handbag. Then the other rocking gators and boots, and a bag that makes a thud when it hits the ground. It is so awesome that this can occur thanks to the countless hours of work put into the Milford Road. Boots tied. pack on back. Show time! The closer to our intended destination we got the less people we saw. We couldn’t have asked for a better day, and when we got to the Caples / Greenstone track junction we stopped for a snack. Lazing back in the soft grass looking up at Jean Batten Peak(1971m) and our intended journey was an excellent way to enjoy our lunch. This was a classic place to have a chocolate stop when I was guiding, and beginning back in the familiar surroundings brought back memories.

As we climbed the very well graded track up to McKellar Saddle(945m) the shade of the forest was welcome relief from the hot afternoon sun. A mission I did a few years earlier had got me up to a campsite beside the large tarn on McKellar Saddle. On that mish I scrambled up to the area we planned to camp in, and as soon as we reached the saddle the memories of the epicness of that mish got me extremely excited about the next stage of our adventure…

Above McKellar Saddle(945m) with the Darran Mountains in the Background

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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