Milford Track - Day 3

Saturday, 15 April 2017

On paper this was always going to be the hardest day. We had to hike up to McKinnon Pass - (1154 metres), then down into next valley - which we would then follow to the end of the track on the following day. The weather looked cloudy but otherwise fine as we left the hut.


We’d been told it would take 2.5 hours of hiking to reach the top of the pass - but we found that the track was - whilst not exactly easy - not all that difficult.  However as we climbed the weather got wetter and colder - by the time we reached the last kilometre we were all dressed in rain gear and the icy wind was blasting against our faces.  

  

  


Needless to say, we didn’t spend much time at the McKinnon memorial (the guy who opened up the trail to guided walks back in the 1800s) before proceeding to the shelter at the top.  Apparently the shelter is the 5th iteration, the previous 4 having blown away. There were absolutely no views for us, we could have been on the moon for all we knew, but a google search reveals that it would have looked like this on a sunny day.  

humph.

We didn’t stop too long in the shelter - it had cooking facilities for hot drinks but we were keener to get out of the blast zone and descend into the valley. We did meet Paul, Dani and Clare who had let earlier than us.

 

The descent was longer and steeper than the ascent, but sheltered, and there were occasional patches of sunshine so we could see glimpses of what we missed as we went over the pass. There were even a few rainbows. As the ranger had advised us, the vegetation was lusher on the other side as Milford sound received an extra few metres of rainfall every year.  

  

  

 

  

By the time we passed the beautiful cascade falls the sun was out for good and we stopped to eat lunch at a nice little shelter.  

 

Another hour down the trail and we caught up with clare, who was sitting on the veranda of a fantastic shelter (with free tea and coffee) enjoying the sun and giving her aching toes a break.  

 

 

This was also the starting point of the only significant side-trip of the Milford Track - 5k out to Sutherland Falls and back. After a nice break and a bask in the sun it didn’t take much persuasion to get everyone heading out to see the falls - walking without a pack was a treat in itself!


Sutherland Falls were very impressive - the water absolutely pounded  down from a great height onto the rocks below - creating its own squalls of wind and water.  Jon and Andy braved the water for a quick dip but the pressure of water blasting out at them kept them pretty close to the water’s edge.

After another pleasant stroll back to the shelter (which is also where one of the guided huts was), we eventually donned packs and completed the last hour’s worth of hiking for the day - arriving at the lovely Dumpling Hut at about 4.30. This was my favourite hut of the trip - we got a 10 berth room all to ourselves, and the cooking hut was warm and filled with light. There were also fantastic swimming holes nearby - great for a very quick dip.

 

 


This had been my favourite day’s walking by far - the contrasting experiences of the top of the pass and the sunny valley as well the waterfalls made it fantastic.  We were all disappointed to miss the views up the top, but we did get some on the way down, and in the grand scheme of things, we still hadn’t received anything like the rain forecast for our trip so far, so we were still ahead!

2017List
Cool things Wednesday, 3 May 2017
NZ Day 30 - Long Distance Final Sunday, 30 April 2017
NZ Day 28 - Rest Day 3 (HA!) Friday, 28 April 2017
NZ Day 27 - Long Qualifying 2 Friday, 28 April 2017
NZ Day 26 - Long Qualifying 1 Wednesday, 26 April 2017
NZ Day 25 - Rangitoto Island Tuesday, 25 April 2017
NZ Day 24 - Unexpected Outcomes Tuesday, 25 April 2017
NZ Day 23 - Sprint Qualifying Sunday, 23 April 2017
NZ Day 22 - Goodbye Rotorua, Hello Auckland Sunday, 23 April 2017
NZ Day 21 - Rest Day 2 (HA!) Saturday, 22 April 2017
NZ Day 20 - Rotorua Orienteering & Adrenaline Forest Thursday, 20 April 2017
NZ Day 19 - Rotorua Orienteering Thursday, 20 April 2017
NZ Day 18 - Rest Day (HA!) Tuesday, 18 April 2017
NZ Day 17 - Oceania Middle & Rotorua Tuesday, 18 April 2017
NZ Day 16 - Goodbye South Island Tuesday, 18 April 2017
NZ Day 15 - Milford Sound Saturday, 15 April 2017
Milford Track - Day 4 Saturday, 15 April 2017
Milford Track - Day 3 Saturday, 15 April 2017
Milford Track - Day 2 Saturday, 15 April 2017
Milford Track - Day 1 Saturday, 15 April 2017
NZ Day 9 - Pastries and Packing Saturday, 15 April 2017
NZ Day 8 - Pools and Puzzles Sunday, 9 April 2017
NZ Day 7 - More Glaciers & Amazing Views Sunday, 9 April 2017
NZ Day 6 - Gorges and Glaciers Friday, 7 April 2017
NZ Day 5 - Seals & Rocks Friday, 7 April 2017
NZ Day 4 - Old Ghost Road Wednesday, 5 April 2017
NZ Day 2 - Hot Springs and Long Drives Monday, 3 April 2017
NZ Day 0 & NZ Day 1 Sunday, 2 April 2017
NZ (Planned) Wednesday, 29 March 2017