The Power of Fiordland Rain – Lake Marian

“A Mish a Day” #195 Lake Marian. Fiordland National Park. 22.4.2014. To say it rains in Fiordland is like saying 2020 hasn’t been the best year… tell us something we don’t know! For those who haven’t witnessed more than 300ml (or more) in less than a day, it is something so breathtaking a written description will never do justice. In my time guiding in Fiordland I have walked out of a lodge to be instantly drenched. Many times on one of those days, you swear there is no way it can rain any harder, then the storm turns up the watery volume to 11 out of 10. I had been to Lake Marian a few times before this particular mish, but what made this special was a storm that had rolled through a few months earlier.

The guiding season had just finished, but I wasn’t done with Fiordland yet, so I headed for the cozy confines of a cabin at Gunn’s Camp in the Lower Hollyford Valley. I was joined by my fellow adventure enthusiast from France, who had never been to paradise (Fiordland), and we planned to spend 4 nights at the camp. To get to Gunn’s Camp we had to cross over a massive slip (rock avalanche) that had destroyed a large section of road, and very nearly taken out the camp itself. A basic track/road had been cut through the slip, and even though it was rough, it was still an impressive achievement to have the road open at all. Along with trips from Gunn’s Camp to the Homer and Gertrude Saddles, we also headed up at the recently re-cut Lake Marian Track. Somehow the track around the gorge survived the watery assault, and with the size of some of the tree trunks that had flowed down the river when in flood, it’s a miracle none of the tracks structures were destroyed. As we climbed higher on the track, storm damage became more evident. In places sections of the track had been washed out, and a very basic alternative track through the loose ground in its place. We got to the lake only to find a low mist covering the mountains, so we scrambled around to the top of the lake on the western shoreline to better our chances of seeing some of the Darran Mountains. At the top of the lake the mist began to clear revealing the glorious mountains of the cirque that surrounds the lake.

By the time we got back to the Lake Marian Track again it had cleared to a stunning day, and with the clouds gone we could see the other slips that had come down during the recent rain event. As I made my way down the track, seeing the slips really got me thinking about some of the times we were out guiding in super heavy rain, and I wondered how stable the ground above us really was…

Lake Marian

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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