Munted Ankle Mish (Part Two) – Cirque Creek Camp

On a Mish” #105 Munted Ankle Mish (Part Two). Cirque Creek. Fiordland National Park. 29.1.2019. A lot of people think that a trip into the wild needs to be tough and taxing. Long walks and sore legs are the norm and when the ordeal is over you will be suffering for many days afterwards. I used to think this way until I unfortunately munted my ankle while working. Now not being able to work far, I had to think of something different to quench my thirst for the outdoors, and I was going to find it in the mighty Darran Mountain Range…

Cirque Creek is one of the easiest valleys to get to in the Upper Hollyford, but not many visit the place. A big reason why the area is usually free of humans is the watery barricade that is Whakatipu Ka Tuka / Hollyford River. Getting your feet wet is a must to get into Cirque Creek and for some reason most people don’t like having wet feet!

Knowing I had to ford the river I brought extra shoes for the crossing, then after crossing I changed into my hiking boots. Squeezing my feet into my boots was a little bit rough on my still swollen ankle but one quick look around eased my pain.

I slowly hiked / limped up to the entrance to the valley, and then set up shop under the south west flanks of Mount Crosscut (2203m West Peak). The spot was incredible considering it only took 25 minutes to get to.

Surprisingly my ankle wasn’t too bad after the walk up to the campsite, so after a rest I really made myself at home by building a perimeter wall for my tent out of rocks, and a windproof mountain kitchen / cooking area near my rockwall.

The afternoon drifted on into a delightful evening, and a beautiful temporary orange glow appeared on the usually dull grey granite as the sun disappeared behind the rock and snow on Mt Belle(1965m). In a mountainous world so rugged and harsh it is a real show stopper to see the soft colours of a good sunset. It is the type of experience that makes you want to come back time and time again, even if you have a munted ankle!

As darkness took over I cooked a delicious meal in my mini rock kitchen, and then watched the numbers of cars on the Milford Road decrease as the night went on. Around late afternoon the road is very busy with cars and buses taking people out of Piopiotahi / Milford Sound and back to reality via the road. By the time the evening rolls around most have retreated back to the real world and left the place to the kea and other animals that call the Darran Mountains home.

As I was retreating to my tent I saw one car pull over and set up camp directly opposite my campsite on the side of the road, a big NO NO on the Milford Road! People avoiding the small price to pay at the many campsites dotted along the road can be a real problem and hats off to the hard working DoC staff who have to go out and round up the people who don’t want to follow the rules. Even with my swollen ankle I wasn’t going to break any rules by camping directly on the side of the road. Knowing where I was was ok in the eyes of Milford Road law, I retreated to the warmth of my sleeping bag and fell asleep to the silence of the mountains.

Early-ish the next morning while it was still dark I could once again hear the sounds of cars, coaches and trucks starting the daily flow into and out of Piopiotahi / Milford Sound. Not wanting to miss out on a second of daylight in the Darrans I got up as soon as I was awake and my reward was witnessing a glorious start to another day in paradise. I enjoyed a very scenic coffee and breakfast while watching the sun light up the mountains towering all around me.

Reality told me it was time to go home. I ignored it for as long as I could then, very reluctantly, I started packing up my gear. In the act of dismantling my tent I managed to keep my rock wall intact. I have wondered if anyone has gone on a mish into the valley and seen this perfect square pile of rocks? But with that being said I am positive the winter avalanches would have quickly destroyed any signs of my excellent night out.

Easy, stunning and my camping fix taken care of, I think it’s safe to say the mish with a munted ankle was a huge success and I had only travelled about two kilometres the entire time. Thank you Fiordland, you will never cease to amaze!

Rain Arriving in the Upper Hollyford Valley

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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