The Percy Saddle – Part Three

“A Mish a Day” #183 The Percy Saddle – Part Three. Fiordland National Park. 12.11.2017. Waking up in a tent is an excellent way to start your day. Waking up in a tent in Fiordland is even better! The weather settled down during the night, and this meant I could get a good sleep and be ready for the real mission in the morning. An early-ish start was rewarded with clear skies and a crispy frost on the ground, and a new Kea friend was up enjoying the pristine morning as well. My plan was to climb up and over Peak 1293m, then continue on to the large Peak 1405, On the topo map everything looked like it was just hiking with very little climbing. But the weather from the day / night before had coated the mountains in the area with a good thick layer of snow, and this would become an issue in the not too distant future…

It was a case of one step forward, three steps back, as the fresh snow would slide off the rocks of the bluffs in places, with me coming along for the ride as I got higher up the mountain. I had my ice axe but no crampons, and after getting to the summit of Peak 1298m, I looked along the ridge at the higher snow covered dome of Peak 1405m. I was already slipping and sliding around as it was, but the lure of the mountains can be so strong that it clouds your judgement. So with temptation getting the better of me, I began to traverse the ridge towards the mountain. I got to a cleft (gap in the ridge) which had to be sidled if I was going to continue on to Peak 1405m. I looked at the steep face I had to cross, then I looked at the massive drop below it. The potential for disaster was too high, and the consequences of a slip would be fatal. So after a battle in my mind to carry on or to head back, I wisely chose the later, and I turned around and headed back down to camp.

On my way back to camp I heard a keeeeeeeeea squawking away, and I really hoped it wasn’t helping itself to my tent and the gear inside? It turned out the little fella was just curious about me and what I was up too. He would circle around me a few times, then sit on a rock near the track. It was amazing how tame he was, and he didn’t seem bothered about my presence, just happy to watch me hiking. I suddenly thought that maybe someone fed him at some stage, and now he looked at humans as walking food dispensaries! Even though the Kea is my favourite animal, he definitely wasn’t getting any food from me, no matter how long he hung around me. I got back to my camp to see everything in order and more importantly no Kea damage. After packing up camp, I headed back down the road to West Arm, and the return journey which is a real highlight of the trip. Hiking towards Leaning Peak(1477m), with Lake Manapouri far below is a real treat for your eyes. The area really burned its way into the future mission section of my mind, and the whole time I was hiking back to the wharf I was planning future missions to Percy Saddle and its surrounding mountains in my head…

West Arm from the Percy Saddle Road

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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