The Creations of the Mountain Gods (Part One) – Phil’s Bivvy (Hollyford Road to Upper Tent Flat)

“On a Mish” #400 The Creations of the Mountain Gods (Part One). Phil’s Bivvy (Hollyford Road to Upper Tent Flat). 19.4.2016. Planet Earth is covered in beautiful places which must be seen with your own eyes. Glorious mounds of rock and ice look down on most, and most look up at their towering beauty in awe. I’m a fan of any wild hilly location – however, there are certain places that have been sculpted, carved, and created just a little (or a lot) better than most. Some peaks have had extra attention when being fashioned into existence by the Mountain Gods, and when witness you are taken into a magical world much different to the one most of us live in…

Back in 2008 I visited Lake Mackenzie for the first time while being trained to be a guide on the Routeburn Track. Little did I know that the next day’s hike would be the one where I first sighted the mountain range I would become obsessed with in the future. Taking in the track’s world class scenery along with learning all the ins and outs of being a guide with Ultimate Hikes was a lot to devour. However, I will always remember the impression the Darran Mountains left on my mind. It was as if all the other information was temporarily removed, and my thoughts were solely focused on the masterclass in how a mountain landscape should look.

My first venture into the Darran Mountains was with fellow guides and a real outdoor experience. We hiked from the Hollyford Road up into Moraine Creek and camped at Tent Flat. The tramping was tough, and the weather was not what most want when wandering in the wilderness. This might turn some away from a life in the hills, but for me it was the start of a relationship with near endless cliffs and glaciers, with ice so white you would think they had had a recent paint job!

After my first adventure I gained important education and the experience needed to take on a Darran Mountain challenge. I picked off several peaks and ventured up a few of the valleys before setting my sights on a location famous with folks who like to scale sheer cliffs of solid rock which would seem impossible to most. That place is Phils Bivvy, and there is no easy way to enjoy a stay and have a play at this natural accommodation which is hidden away in my favourite mountainous area.

On a still and sunny day in April my girlfriend and I drove up the Milford Road into Fiordland National Park with dreams of days taking in the atmosphere at Phils Bivvy. Little did we know that this mission was going to have a lot more twists and turns than expected, and we encountered a real challenge even before beginning our mish!

The concrete of the Milford Road turned into the gravel of the Hollyford Road, and we were soon at the start of the Moraine Creek Track. Packs on, doors locked, feet on the earth that is the magnificent Fiordland National Park.

The clear sky above allowed much better views than the drizzly hike I had had when I first tramped the track. The mountains close in around you the closer you get to the Moraine Creek Valley, and after a three-wire bridge the flatness of the Hollyford Valley is soon forgotten. Tough trekking was rewarded with views of my favourite place. I had studied the Darran Mountain Climbing Guidebook many times and now the pages of the book had come to life. We were in the land that the Mountain Gods had paid a little bit more attention to when making and the grandeur was on another level…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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