Whiskey with Snow – Part One

“On a Mish” #305 Whiskey with Snow – Part One. Whiskey Trail. Livingstone Mountains. Fiordland National Park. 12.10.2021. I believe it is safe to say that I am truly addicted to adventures in the mountains. There is such a strong pull that after even a small amount of time without a mish I start to get a little restless. As far as things to be addicted to goes, outdoor adventures are right up there with the best and least harmful. It is amazing how much stress can be released by marching up a hill with a pack on…

The injury I received back at the start of 2020 has definitely altered my capabilities, but as long as I can still move I will continue to go out on mountain missions. Previous expeditions have shown me that I have a time limit before the machine starts to break down. I have found this out the hard way recently, twice. Once on the Avalanche Creek Track and the other time was the bush bashing battle up Waterloo Peak(1077m). After about two hours I go from slightly sore to angry aches. Unfortunately I was nowhere near the end of the adventure on both occasions. Now knowing the time limit is vital for the overall enjoyment of the mish. With all of this in mind I grabbed my gear and headed for the mountains of Northern Fiordland. I wasn’t off to the best start as after a couple of minutes driving I realised I had left my drinking bottle at home. I might have been a little bit excited so I made sure I had everything before leaving for the second time! I had had enough bush bashing, so I decided on a camping mish up above Key Summit on the Routeburn Track (The Whiskey Trail). The forecast was one that would probably keep most at home, but with only a couple of spare days I had to take what I got. Snow was looking likely up high, but as I got closer to the Divide I was hit by a flurry of the white stuff. With a grin ear to ear I set out on my late winter adventure.

I started my hike just as the snow eased and after a couple of minutes hiking I realised I had left that bloody water bottle in my car. After the second false start of the day I was finally ready to tackle the track and I wasn’t turning back for anything! Little breaks in the clouds gave me motivating glimpses of the snow-covered mountain giants that surround the impressive area. Slowly I gained altitude, and as I got higher I began to notice more and more snow settled on the ground and in the trees. Apart from a family of four I didn’t see another soul, which is incredible considering I am walking one of the most amazing hiking trails on the planet. I got above the treeline and had my first taste of the anti-warmth southerly wind. The perfect mix of movement and clothing kept me happy and warm as I enjoyed the stunning scenery on my lonesome. Above Key Summit the snow only increased in depth and I found myself once again facing the challenge of a beech forest slumped in snow. I faced the exact same challenge a couple of weeks back, but on that occasion I was only carrying a day pack. So now with a full camping pack I took my first step into the snow covered forest fortress…

The Hollyford Valley

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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