The Price to Pay if you Want to Play – Avalanche Creek Track

“On a Mish” #303 The Price to Pay if I Want to Play. Lake Sylvan / Avalanche Creek Track. Routeburn / Lake Wakatipu Area. 22.9.2021. It is amazing what you can achieve if you put your head down and go for it. However, sometimes you have to pay if you want to play. Since smashing my hip I have been on a slow journey getting back into the outdoors. As the time has gone on I have been doing ‘out in the field’ tests of what my battered body was capable of achieving. Recovering from an injury can be a little bit painful sometimes (sometimes all of the time!), so it is important to not overdo it. Unfortunately I usually learn things the hard way and I was about to find out the consequences of overdoing it…

The morning was epic. I was in Queenstown at my bro Mark’s house and we were about to go ‘On a Mish’.

The plan was to first head to the top of Lake Wakatipu and have a trip down Routeburn guiding memory lane on the Routeburn Track Road and a mini adventure to Lake Sylvan. The track to the lake is reasonably flat and I was confident I could make it, and after dragging myself up to the viewing platform I got the reward of wilderness views to help distract me from the soreness.

After Lake Sylvan we started to head back towards Queenstown but still had some fuel left for exploring and the day’s weather was just perfect for hiking.

Still Conditions on Lake Wakatipu

Recently a track has been cut and marked up a farm fence line in the direction of the north ridge of Mt Crichton(1870m). The Avalanche Creek Track would be our next challenge, however I should have had a look at the steepness before I started.

The Lake Sylvan Track was a great warm up and as I began the hike I felt like I was up to the challenge. As we began the uphill slog we could both tell that the higher we go the better the view.

A mixture of excitement and adrenaline kept me climbing higher, and at one stage the route went near vertical as it followed the fenceline that would have had some farmers sweating up a storm when they drove the posts and hooked up the wires. God knows how they managed to secure it on this steep terrain, but thankfully it was there as it worked as a great aid to get us up and over the tricky section of track.

After just over 600 metres of vertical we came to a fence line which was right on 1000 metres above sea level. I felt the sense of achievement only possible after a big hike up a hill and this was a feeling I had missed greatly since hurting my hip. Up until this point I had been confident that we could get to the top of the north ridge of Mt Crichton(1870m), I was very wrong.

After scrambling over the fence all of the day’s activity caught up with me and pain, which wasn’t too bad to start with, began to increase and run down the length of my left leg. Unfortunately I had used all of my allocated movement for the day, but my day was far from over. What goes up must come down, and this was a down I was not looking forward to.

We avoided the worst of the steepness on the fenceline track and by following animal tracks around the scrub and bluffs on the mountainside in a zigzagging manner. This reduced the strain on my hip and back and eventually got me back to the car.

At the car I realised I had over done it massively and I was in for a world of pain for the next couple of days. As I started to look at the epic pictures I had taken I began to see how incredible our mission was. I guess the pain was the price I had to pay because I wanted to get out of the house and go play…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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