Starting the Year the Right Way – New Years Camp

“A Mish a Day” #201 New Years Camp. Fiordland National Park. 1.1.2016. There is no better start to a year than waking up in the wilderness paradise of Fiordland, and this was the plan at the end of a busy 2015. The Borland Road is a short drive from the Humpridge Track office in the booming metropolis of Tuatapere, and with the first crunch of the road’s gravel it’s time to leave the troubles of the real world, and get into mish mode…

My plan was to spend New Year’s eve camping near Mt Burns Tarns, and then climb some of the peaks in the area the next morning. I arrived at the Borland Saddle car park as the last of the day hikers were finishing their own missions, and I quickly set off for my planned campsite in the late afternoon sun. Above the treeline I made my way around the tarns of all sorts of shapes and sizes on the open ridge, to a spot overlooking Island Lake and the Merrie Range. Any good campsite has a good campfire, but the only problem was my campsite was well above the forest containing the fuel I needed for my fire. As this was a special ‘New Year’ camp, I set out to solve the problem of having no wood for a fire after setting my tent up. To get wood I emptied my pack, and hiked back down into the forest. I then stuffed as many dry beech tree branches as I could find into my bag, then picked up some larger logs, and began the hike back to camp. The 45 minute return mission was well worth it as I enjoyed the warmth of a good fire watching the last of 2015’s daylight disappear behind the wall of Fiordland mountains in the west.

Mt Burns Tarns at Sunset

An early-ish start the next day had me up in a new year, and, as planned, waking up to views of paradise. After a couple of warm up coffees I set off on the day’s mish to climb some of the peaks to the south of my campsite. The first was Peak 1476m, a mountain which must be climbed if taking the alpine route to Green Lake, and I was lucky to have a perfect view down to the dark green waters of Green Lake. After the first peak I followed the ridge towards Mt Burns(1645m), but before getting to tarns under the summit I headed east along a separate ridge towards Lake Monowai. The ridge led to Peak 1528m, and turned out to be a brilliant ridge to scramble along. At one point I found the ridge blocked by a large spire of rock, and the only way forward was to climb directly over the spire. The exposure kept me on my toes, and prevented me looking down for a couple of long minutes, then finally I got to the summit. The view out over Southland was epic, with Hananui / Mt Anglem(980m) a prominent mound on the hazy southern horizon. As I returned to camp I was accompanied by a couple of local Kea, and as I watched them fly west I noticed the clouds building over the Merrie Range. I quickened the pace and got back to camp as the wind began to increase. I bid farewell to my multi-year camp, and headed back down to my car, getting there just before the drizzle turned to rain.

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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