Round Two (Part Two). Dore Pass(1390m)

“On a Mish” #120 Round Two (Part Two). Dore Pass(1390m). Fiordland National Park. 21.1.2018. For many years I sat in the bus heading to the start of the Routeburn Track and we would point out Dore Pass, the other way to the start of the Milford Track. Most tackle the track via a cruise across the tranquil waters of Lake Te Anau to Glade Wharf. I talked about the pass for many years but never ventured over it. My first attempt was stopped by mist and now in better weather it was time for ‘Round Two’…

After immediately soaking our boots in the Eglington River we hiked across the open tussock fields of the Eglington Valley, as we made our way towards the beech forest at the base of Largs Peak(1707m). The view of the Eglington Valley and Livingstone Mountains really needs to be appreciated from the western side of the valley. The views of the Mountains are impressive, along with the fact that you are on the quiet side of the valley away from the busy road.

Once in the forest the track began to climb to reach the hanging valley of the Murcott Burn. This was my third time to the area, and each time the bird noise and sightings of rare birds such as Mohua (Yellowhead) has increased. We were lucky to see some of the ‘$100 Note Birds’ and hear their unique distinctive call.

After exiting the forest in the upper Murcott Burn valley you will now know if you’re going over the pass or turning back, as the area can be engulfed in cloud taking visibility away and making navigation impossible. On a previous occasion we arrived at this point to be face to face with a complete white out and after about an hour of blind navigation through the cloud we were forced to turn back before things got out of our control. Getting lost in the Fiordland Mountains can be a death sentence!

Now during round two we were more worried about sunburn instead of visibility.

Above the forests at the lip of the Murcott Burn valley the track becomes lost in the grassy meadows and knowledge of the route becomes very important. The pass has made many people wonder “which way to we go?” when the trail petters out in the alpine section.

We had studied the route many times and armed with the knowledge of where to go we began to climb towards Dore Pass and with each step we were rewarded with excellent views. The closer we got to the pass the more obvious the way became. A small access ledge needs to be found to get to the pass, and in low visibility this is where many hikers have got lost (we are on that list!). But on this day we found the small ledge and pushed on beyond where we got lost.

The last scramble up to the pass was a sweaty affair, as the mid summer sun did it’s best to cook us as we walked. Sometimes when the going gets tough in the hills you question why you are putting yourself through the punishment? The question is usually immediately answered by the scenery and knowing that effort will be rewarded, the harder it is the better the satisfaction will be. Each energy draining plod was a plod closer to the pass so the only thing to do was get on with the job and hope the view was going to be as rewarding as the journey was tough…

Looking Down on the Clinton Valley and Lake Te Anau from Dore Pass(1390m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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