The Hidden Serpent (Part Two) – Serpents Back Track

“On a Mish” #397 The Hidden Serpent (Part Two). Serpents Back Track. Lake Manapouri. Fiordland National Park. 14.3.2024. At 1.3 million hectares, Fiordland National Park has many hidden corners to get lost in. I would never recommend going into the park without knowing where you are going, some people have hiked off the map never to be seen again. Following tracks is by far the easiest way to get around, but it is best to know where that track will take you. In possibly the safest little corner of the park I went against the rule and followed a track that went somewhere, eventually curiosity got the better of me and I ventured into the unknown…

The Serpents Back Track looked like it would take me to Supply Bay and from there I would follow the road back to my car. I was close to the clearing I thought I was going to, so in my mind the track followed the edge of the clearing back to the road. From where I stood it didn’t seem like it would be very far, so I went from one mystery track to another. At least this one had a name!

I started hiking alongside the clearing and then to my surprise the track swung to the right and began to head towards two large mounds. I got to the base of one of the mounds and looked up at the huge bluff, which was somehow hidden by the tangle of beech trees in the dense forest. Surely the track would head along the base of the bluff?! My hip and head had no idea of what was coming. Once again, I was surprised as I began to climb the ground to the right of the massive bluff.

Before heading out I checked the forecast and the rain in it had me wearing waterproof gear. As time went on the layers came off, and by the time I began my unexpected upward journey I was feeling the heat. The weather had been everything but rainy, and on a track like this it was a bit of a (sweaty) blessing. The higher I climbed the hotter I got.

Eventually I dragged myself to the top of the bluff and then to an unassuming tree which had a marker telling me I was at the summit of the Serpents Back Track. I didn’t expect a climb on this mish, which shows that Fiordland always has a few tricks hidden up its sleeve, and it wasn’t done yet.

I began to descend in the direction of Supply Bay, and I got to a point where I could hear the voices of people who were either down by the road, or I had been out so long that they were in my head! I got to a point where there were two distinctive tracks. One led to Supply Bay and the other to South Port on Lake Manapouri. Of course, I took the wrong trail and ended up looking up Lake Manapouri at stormy weather approaching from the west. I back tracked to the junction and it didn’t take too long to get to Supply Bay and the road back to my car.

I got back just as heavy rain began to settle in and my back decided to go out. My short trek on a mysterious track turned into a case of taming a hidden serpent, or did the serpent tame me? Either way the mish was awesome and now I know where the random track near the Post Office Point Track goes to, and I know I will be back again (after I rest my weary broken bits!). But next time I will be aware of the giant serpent hidden away in the Fiordland Forest near Lake Manapouri.

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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