Another Day in a Snowy Paradise (Part One) – Ocean Peak from Lake MacKenzie

“On a Mish” #117 Another Day in a Snowy Paradise (Part One). Ocean Peak(1848m) from Lake MacKenzie. Fiordland National Park. 12.5.2012. There is something very special about working in a remote place, definitely when that place becomes a different world during winter. What starts as light frozen water droplets can then transform a location into a completely different place. The area not only looks different, but it also the simple art of moving around becomes much more challenging. While working as Lodge Manager on the world famous Routeburn Track I decided to go for a hike when my friend came to visit, a hike during another day in a snowy paradise…

Lake MacKenzie in Fiordland National Park is a very special place. It is also a very welcoming stopping point for the lucky few who hike the well worn path of the world famous Routeburn Track. The grand Lake MacKenzie Basin is not only blissed with its beautiful body of water but it also has its stunning surrounding mountains, Emily Peak(1815m), F-Knob(1919m) and Ocean Peak(1848m). Like a perfectly framed picture the place is about as photogenic as possible. I will never forget the first time I was told that the Lake MacKenzie area was someone’s computer desktop background. As someone starting my career pointing out perfection to people, it really stuck with me and makes me happy for the life in the mountains I have enjoyed so far.

Lake MacKenzie is visited most during the summer months and that is due to the difficulty and danger increasing with the arrival of winter snow. Not many get to experience the area after the hiking season has finished and the first falls of winter start their icy cycles. The area basically becomes a well guarded fortress due to the number of avalanche paths that cross the track and caution must be taken when visiting.

During May and June, and then again in September and October of 2012, I was at Lake MacKenzie Lodge working as the Lodge Manager during a building project upgrading the Ultimate Hikes guided walkers lodge and also adding on a few additional rooms. The large building operation was operating outside of the hiking season so as not to disturb the guided walkers. The sounds of saws and hammers just aren’t as appealing as the sounds of the many native birds that call Lake MacKenzie home.

During this rare opportunity I had a visit from my friend and fellow guide, Jule. Much like myself, she enjoys the delights of standing on top of a peak after a fun and challenging climb. I find fellowship in a person who can dedicate their time to overcoming the struggle that is climbing mountains. Finding fun in pushing yourself is rewarding in so many different ways, therefore someone who enjoys this enjoys the very same things as me.

I wanted her time to be not only an enjoyable experience at the lodge, but also include a couple of missions to the places I had been going to in my spare time. One of these places was Ocean Peak, and the view from the peak that ironically looks at a sea (the Tasman Sea) is magnificent. So along with other outings, a scramble up Ocean Peak was planned as a mish we would do during her time at the lodge.

It was as if she was a beacon to epic experiences, the Fiordland area had been hit by a storm over the days before she arrived, and everything was covered from about 1000 metres up in clean, crisp photogenic white snow. The scene was set for a wintery mish in paradise…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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