Whiskey with Snow – Part Four

“On a Mish” #305 Whiskey with Snow – Part Four. Whiskey Trail. Livingstone Mountains. Fiordland National Park. 12.10.2021. I find it hard to think of a more cosy situation than being huddled up in your sleeping bag as a storm rages on outside. Knowing it is well below freezing but you are safe and warm makes for an unique sleeping experience. Camping can be tough sometimes, but the rewards always make it a memorable experience. I knew I wasn’t going to forget my chilly night high above Key Summit on the Livingstone Range

Unfortunately I only set up a barrier for the wind on the southside of my tent. What I didn’t realise is that the wind would whip over my tent and then blast spindrift up under the north side. I had to put up with the odd blast of powdery snow every ten minutes or so. Luckily my four season sleeping bag was up to the task.

My Wind-break Made of Snow

Early-ish the next morning I peeked out of the tent’s door to see the snow had completely covered any sign of my previous day’s activity. It had thankfully stopped snowing, but the wind was lingering like that last drunk person you’re trying to get rid of at the end of a party. My morning coffee was excellent and with the tent’s flap open I enjoyed views of the Ailsa Mountains covered in a fresh layer of snow. I knew the wind was going to increase so I got my A into G and began to pack up. It is one thing erecting a tent in high winds, and then another attempting to pack it up. As soon as I kicked the snow wall down to release the tent’s guy wires I had a chance to see how effective the little wall actually was. In a frenzy of wind and snow I managed to pack everything into my bag and begin the hike back down to more sheltered ground. As I retraced my route from the day before I saw no signs that anyone had come this way. In places the fresh snow was near waist deep and this was considerable work for someone with a bad hip. As I got lower the travel got easier and it wasn’t much longer before I was back down near the edge of the forest. I bumped into my new friend from Whataroa who was up taking pictures of the post-storm magic. He said that at one stage just before dark he looked up at where I was camping and all he could see was dark black storm clouds! We had both had enough and he was preparing to leave and escape the wind just like me. I got back into the forest above Key Summit and like on my way in, I had to bash the chunks of snow off the low hanging trees so I could make forward progress. Eventually I got out of the forest and onto the wide and easy Key Summit Track. From here it was a simple hop, skip and a jump back to my car at the Divide car park. Even though I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep while getting sprayed with spindrift, I still had an amazing time on my adventure. I’m guessing it was my last taste of the 2021 winter, but if not I know I will be able to handle anything the weather gods throw at me!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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