Peace and Quiet – Gertrude Valley Camp (Part Three)

“A Mish a Day” #147 Gertrude Valley Camp – Part Three. Fiordland National Park. 3.2.2014. Unfortunately if you spend enough time in the mountains of Aotearoa you will see your fair share of potential wilderness casualties. All you can do is offer advice, as most of the time you can’t physically stop them from doing what they want to. From a down jacket jeans combo up Conical Hill(1515m) on the Routeburn Track on a rainy day, to people in clothes best for dodging mud puddles in a city at the start of the track up the Tutoko Valley. You always hope your advice will not be ignored and you won’t read about them in future headlines…

As I watched a band of misfits head up the Gerturde Valley with about 30 minutes of daylight left I wondered if they would take my advice to NOT try get all the way up to the Saddle so late in the day. After our little chat I headed back to my camp under Mt Crosscut(2262M), and about an hour later I saw what must have been the light from a cellphone, leading the fellas back towards the Milford Road in the dark. The cellphone has become the savior of the unprepared caught out in the dark. With the weight of knowing other humans could be in danger off my shoulders I drifted off to sleep in a place I could be 99% of the time.

Early-ish the next morning I was up out of my tent ready to tackle the day’s challenge of Homer Saddle(1375m), and I was stopped dead in my tracks by a view of thick fog. I have been up to Homer Saddle(1375m) many times, and it has become one of my favourite day hikes / mountain scrambles. I was really hoping I would climb above the clouds, so I packed up my wet tent and began to trek north towards the Homer Tunnel and the rough track up to the saddle. A good grind up the valley got me into the McPherson Cirque and onto the last push to the top of the Saddle. As I hoped, about two thirds of the way up I popped above the clouds and was now seeing mountains that looked like islands on a sea of fluffy white fog. The view from the top was as spectacular as ever, and as I enjoyed a bite to eat I watched the cloud dissipate from the valleys far below me. As much as I wanted to dig my roots in and stay there forever, life and reality meant I had to bid the place farewell and head back down. For less than 24 hours in the mountains, the mission had filled out the awesomeness checklist, and as I got back to my car at the Gertrude Saddle Car Park I was full of satisfaction. Another mish in the Darrans done, and with a smile I drove back along the Milford Road, thankfully now going in the same direction as the flow of Milford tourists!

The Milford Road from Just Below Homer Saddle(1375m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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