My Own Great Walk – Beyond Key Summit (Part Two)

“On a Mish” #298 My Own Great Walk – Part Two. Peak 1086m (Beyond Key Summit). Routeburn Track. Fiordland National Park. 8.9.2021. Working in a job in New Zealand tourism means you get told how amazing your office is on a daily basis. Then after those people leave they tell their friends about your ‘office’, and the cycle begins again. I am positive that at least a couple of the clients on my 124 Routeburn Track guided walks have told people that Fiordland is a rather special place and worth a visit. Over the years the number of people on the track has increased, to a point where car parks needed to be extended to cope with the influx of visitors. At its prime you couldn’t go two minutes without seeing another hiker but luckily, like many of the other famous tourist locations around the world, the scenery will make up for the track congestion…

Now post 2021 lockdown, with our borders closed, I found myself wandering up the track to Key Summit totally alone. I have always been a massive fan of snow and the way it can alter a landscape. With a thin layer on the track at the Key Summit turnoff I knew I was in for a snowy adventure. As soon as I got above the treeline the snow became much thicker, and it wasn’t long before my boots were disappearing under a layer of fresh fluffy powder. Having knowledge of the track was vital as the boardwalks were buried in places, and to miss one would mean ending up knee deep in a bog hole.

My goal was to continue beyond Key Summit to the first peak on the ridge behind. As I kicked away the snow on the track up to the Lake Marian view point I began to get a sore face from my uncontrollable grin. What a day to be out in the mountains and I was the only one experiencing it! With the clouds dancing amongst the giants of the Darran Mountains, my eyes nearly exploded with the epic mountain scenery overload! After a quick stop at the view point I continued on towards Peak 1086m, following a snow covered Whiskey Trail. After working roughly where the track started I continued along the familiar and yet foreign ground. Once again my knowledge of the track was crucial, as there are no track markings and the rock cairns dotted along the long exposed ridge are of no use when covered in snow…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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