The Top of the Hill (Part One) – Conical Hill(1515m)

“On a Mish” #284 Top of the Hill (Part One). Conical Hill(1515m). Routeburn Track. Fiordland / Mt Aspiring National Park. 27.2.2010. Although life as a guide isn’t going to make you rich, it will reward you each day with the fact you’re doing something people pay good money to do. Many of the products I have presented to the public have been far too expensive for me to enjoy personally, so having the opportunity to not only work in a stunning location but also soak in as much of the serenity as the customers as well has been epic. From day one working with Ultimate Hikes I knew I had found my calling…

I have always thought the “Ultimate Hikes – Grand Traverse” (Greenstone track plus Routeburn Track) is Ultimate Hikes’ best product (for both clients and also guides). Slowly making your way up the historic Greenstone Valley towards the jagged snow-covered peaks of Fiordland quietly builds the enjoyment levels with each step, to a point where the climax is as big as the mountains that surround you.

Another incredible benefit of the trek is the difference everyday offers to the eyes. The Greenstone Valley is much different when compared with the Hollyford Valley, which is much different to the Routeburn Valley. Three grand valleys all seen when hiking the Grand Traverse.

Another favourite part of the hike is the history that remains under your feet for the entire trip. A very long time ago both the Greenstone and Routeburn Valley’s were used by the Maori to transport Pounamu. I am sure that the Pounamu Kaikawe enjoyed the views like modern day tourist while they trekked their valuable Nephrite north.

On the second to last day of the adventure you hike your way along the exposed Hollyford Face towards Harris Saddle(1255m). The mountain pass sits on the border of Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks and was a ‘shortcut’ through the mountains to the West Coast / Pounamu. While sightseeing may not have been on the minds of the early Maori it is definitely a high priority of the majority of travellers who are lucky enough to find themselves in one of the most stunning locations on the planet. It is on the saddle where there is the optional side-trip of Conical Hill(1255m). Some arrive at the shelter with their sights set on getting to the lodge and there is no way they will be adding any more distance to their journey. However, after a bite to eat and a cuppa (plus a little bit of peer pressure) they are off again and regrets are left to blow away in the wind.

By this stage of the march the legs are working very well together in unison, so adding another mish shouldn’t be an issue. Plus it is amazing how light you feel without a pack as it can be left waiting for you at the shelter.

Unless the weather is sideways rain / sleet / snow, usually at least a couple of people will take on the additional challenge of Conical Hill(1515m), and together these people will share a sense of achievement only possible by climbing to the top of a ‘real mountain’.

Ironically with all that said, my first mish up to the top hill would actually have to wait until a couple of months into my new career up in the fresh mountain air

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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