Less Effort Just as Epic (Part Four) – Upper Cleddau Valley

“On a Mish” #313 Less Effort Just as Epic (Part Four). Upper Cleddau Valley. Fiordland National Park. 16.12.2021. For some reason I always feel the most refreshed when I wake up in my tent. In reality I get less sleep while tossing and turning, trying to find that one comfy spot amongst the rocks acting as your mattress that night, but for some reason I always wake up refreshed and recharged. There is something so relaxing about the mountain atmosphere that sleep is only a way to pass the time while it’s dark and the body will recharge itself with the energy source that is the wilderness…

Early-ish the next day I was up as the light began to reveal the awe-inspiring place where I had spent the night. You get a real sense of size when in Fiordland. The place is a vast untouched wilderness that allows you to visit every now and then, safe passage is never a guarantee. Along with the beauty, the light of the new day revealed the many scars that line the cliffs. Scars caused by water flowing so fast it gouges out trenches in some of the hardest rock on the planet. It would be impossible to be where I was during rain, so I knew I had to make the most of my rare opportunity.

Sunset from my Camp

The slow transition from dark to day was a masterpiece. Once again, the normally cold greys and blacks of the granite were replaced with light orange, red and pink. To just say ‘red sky in the morning’ would be an insult to all the other colours that made up a couple of moments of morning magic.

A light flutter of wind was the sign of the beginning of the end of the clear weather and lack of precipitation in the place that is famous for its constant rain. It was time to leave. While packing down my tent I began to see the first vehicles making their way down the valley towards Piopiotahi / Milford Sound and this was enough to snap me back into the reality that I’m not the only person on the planet.

Slow and steady was the only way I could get myself down without having any issues. My back wasn’t a fan of the weight, so it was lucky I didn’t have far to travel before the big drive back to Te Anau. On the drive home the traffic lights stopped me at the tunnel portal. This was good because it gave me a chance to look back at the sheer cliffs below Gulliver Peak(1776m), and the tiny ledge I had spent the night on. It wasn’t where I had planned, but it was an awesome plan B. For very little effort I’d come across a spot that was extremely epic. Another Darran Mountain mish success!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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