The Mailman’s Way (Part One) – Homer Saddle(1375m)

“On a Mish” #215 The Mailman’s Way (Part One). Homer Saddle(1375m). Fiordland National Park. 2.2.2011. Seeing the sheer steepness of the mountains located in northwest Fiordland puzzles the mind. After my first experience in the upper reaches of the Hollyford Valley, I immediately began researching the first climbers to venture into the magnificent mountain area. A story that caught my eye was one about the mailman who used to climb up and over Homer Saddle to get the mail to the people of Piopiotahi Milford Sound. His job was slightly different to the posties of this era. I don’t think you’d get one of those little mail-buggies over the saddle…

After hurting my hip and back, I realised that the adventures I used to go on were numbered. There is nothing easy about traveling around Fiordland (except on the Milford Road) and having a body that is near 100% is a must. At least I can look back on my adventures and say that ‘once upon a time’ I used to clamber up into the Fiordland tops where the air is freshest, and the views are near unbeatable.

The toughness required to fight your way through aggressively thick jungle forest needed to be matched with the passion for exploring, and a true love for the beauty that Fiordland delivers. Even before reaching the huge cliffs that act as a giant continuous wall guarding the summits, thick Fiordland bush needs to be negotiated. Real wild country exists in each deep valley, and respect must be shown to this land of mountain giants. For such a huge area, a testament to the rugged nature of the area is that there are only two hiking trails that take adventure seekers into the alpine environment high above the valley floor.

A scramble up to Gertrude Saddle(1410m) is by far the easiest way to gain elevation amongst the granite beasts, however easy travel and the Darran Mountains are two things that don’t often go together.

Another “hiking opportunity” to an excellent viewpoint high above the valley floor is the scramble up to Homer Saddle(1375m). But do be aware that this is an area subject to danger from above when below, and then of course there is the fall factor when up high above the cliffs. like so many places in this remote part of the world. Once the route used by the mailman to get all sorts of items into Milford Sound via the inland route, the saddle now receives just a handful of keen visitors (usually climbers) each summer. The trail people follow these days was once a mail route which put posties against the walls of the upper Hollyford and upper Cleddau Valleys.

For my first mission up the saddle, I began the mish with a night at the Smithy Creek Campsite on the Milford Road. Being amongst the mountains really amped up my excitement, and I even had trouble sleeping due to how much I was looking forward to the mission up to Homer Saddle. Nothing is better than doing what you love, and if you add in the factor that you are also in your most favourite location on the planet, you have the recipe for the adventure I really enjoy consuming. I was hungry for a mish but had to wait for the night’s darkness to come and go before I could begin…

Mt Belle, Moir and Gulliver from Homer Saddle

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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