Last Light of the Day (Part One) – Peak 1494m

“On a Mish” #167 Last Light of the Day (Part One). Peak 1494m(Ailsa Range). Lake Mackenzie Basin. Fiordland National Park. 6.6.2012. Human beings climb mountains for all sorts of different reasons, and usually for me it’s purely to take in the view from that precise point on Planet Earth. The experience gets even better when you have a rough knowledge of the area and its surroundings, plus there will be a unique view of all of the mountains in the vicinity. Another optional addition is seeing a wild place as the sun is setting or coming up. Taking in a stunning location as it is bathed in the last light of the day will be an experience not forgotten…

The higher you get the more you see, and this was the plan as I left Lake MacKenzie Lodge one afternoon when I had created some free time for myself. I knew from guiding on the Routeburn Track many times that I could access higher ground via a clearing at the highest point on the hiking track between Lakes Howden and MacKenzie. I had always wanted to get up above the track here, and I finally had a chance during my stint as the Lake MacKenzie Lodge Manager. The interesting job opportunity gave me a chance to really explore the area and to also check out certain places at sunset or sunrise. I love Fiordland and I also love a good sunrise or sunset, so put the two things together and it’s a win win!

After finishing all of my jobs, which included sorting a feed for the builders as I planned to still be out by the time they finished their day working on the lodge upgrades, I headed out during the afternoon with the plan to get high up into the Ailsa Range. I hoped my timing and choice of mountain would give me an excellent view at the right time of the day. I estimated it would take about an hour for me to get up to Peak 1494m. The mountain overlooks the longest stretch of the Hollyford Valley, and on its true left are (more importantly) the mighty Darran Mountains. The chance to see the range from a different perspective was just too alluring.

Because it was outside of the summer hiking season the track was very quiet. So quiet in fact that I didn’t see anyone else while out on my late afternoon mission. I felt like the luckiest person in the world, and for me the show was just starting.

The late afternoon light shone through the small breaks in the beech forest canopy and this made certain patterns on points of the track which was kind of like the lighting on the floor of aircraft which shows the way out. For me the light was guiding me up, and with up comes even better views.

By this point I really had hoped I had timed heading off from the lodge well. Thoughts of ‘I should have left earlier’ were flooding my brain but I had to keep telling myself that I couldn’t go back in time if I had underestimated my sunset schedule, and I should just enjoy the fact that I am the only one out enjoying the epicness. As the last light of the day began to do its magic in Fiordland I arrived at the high point of the track…

Looking towards Emily Peak(1815m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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