The Mountains of Molesworth – Serpentine Creek Saddle (Part Two)

“On a Mish” #247 Serpentine Creek Saddle – Part Two. Cimera Range. 5.2.2021. It is so easy to give in to an injury and let it dictate your life. The easy way out is to say “I can’t” because of your injury, something that becomes a bit of a drag as time goes on. If you are unable to do what you did before your injury then modify what you do to suit. From personal experience, doing nothing gets very boring very quickly and the need for satisfaction can drive you crazy. Even if it looked weird and awkward, I was still keen to get out into the mountains no matter what…

I started my first ‘single pack’ adventure from the Wairau Hanmer Springs Hydro Road, and with grey skies above and a cold south east breeze chilling the air I began my first proper hike in over a year. After tightening my hip belt for the first time I knew I would be sore at the end of the day. I crossed over the grassy meadows at the valley’s entrance, then made my way alongside Serpentine Creek. All good so far, apart from a bit of an ache in my side, as I wandered amongst a small patch of forest. The valley narrowed with thick bush on either side, and my options were to avoid the bush via the creek or climb onto the north face of Mt Southey(1691m) and sidle around the leafy obstacle. I wanted to keep my feet dry so up, up, up I went.

Camp on Serpentine Creek Saddle with Lake Tennyson far below

At first the going was easy, but as I rounded a small spur which was obscuring my view ahead I realised I was only beginning my battle with small sharp rocks. Those of us who have gone off track above the treeline in New Zealand’s South Island have had to deal with scree at some point on our adventure. Unless the area is engulfed in snow, your boots’ durability will be put to the test on the loose ground. In some cases forward travel can be twice as difficult, each step a fight against terrible ground which only wants to travel in a downhill direction. I found myself high above the valley floor, surrounded by small rocks, each with edges which have been sharpened into rock razors. It didn’t take long for my muscle memory to kick in (literally in some places!), and I slowly tiptoed my way across the seemingly endless scree slope. Every so often I would get a glimpse to the head of the valley and my planned destination. This was key in motivating me to keep moving as my hip was really starting to feel the extra weight of my pack. I’m sure many would have turned back by this stage but what can I say, I’m a person who is truly addicted to the wilderness…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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