LAKE TE ANAU, NEW ZEALAND - A Cessna 206 on floats to fly us from Lake Te Anau to Dusky Sound to start our 5 day trek.
Derek modifies his packing job to fit the packs on the plane.
Flying over Lake Manapouri, looking up the North Arm.
Flying over Loch Maree where the misty clouds still remnant from the recent storm are still lingering and slowly clearing out.
Turning onto the base leg of our landing pattern over the sandy braided estuary of the Seaforth River before making our final approach and landing in Supper Cove.
Derek retrieves his pack from the plane (baggage claim) while shin deep in the salt water of Dusky Sound.
And then the plane was off, leaving us to defend for ourselves in this great wild wilderness.
The trail started off being in pretty good shape. The rain forest was thick with ferns and heaps of moss.
Suddenly the trail was quite muddy. But the forest is still beautiful as we sloshed along through the mud.
The trail went from walking through muddy bogs to climbing wet roots. We're following orange triangle trail markers, and at times we couldn't believe where they led us.
The first stint of the walk was to get us around the back of the cove, and as the trail gets closer to the coast we get a glimpse past the trees onto the exposed sand from the low tide in the Sound.
A small side stream coming down from the peaks above makes a final plunge down this waterfall then slowly seeps out to sea.
Walkwires... we will cross about a dozen of these throughout the trip. This is one of the smaller ones.
Derek makes it across the roaring torrent... you think I'm kidding. Have a look at the first little triangle in the sun under the walkwire behind Derek... notice how it's bent? That's from when the water is higher and some big tree or something smacked into the walkwire support.
The mud... ah, the mud. There's no escaping it really.
Boot check. Whew, my boots are still there, but we have to look past the thick layer of mud to realize that.
Derek makes a cautious approach to a muddy bit. Does he risk trying to balance on the log in the middle... these are the problems we face.
Another balancing act. A narrow log across a deep section of water. I had my camera trained on him the whole time to document the splashdown... but he managed to cross with out falling. Rats.
The fiddle head of a fresh fern sprout. Kinda fuzzy. Cool.
We're working our way upstream along the Seaforth River. Looks like it would be a nice place to put a canoe in... maybe next time.
Can you spot the trail? Yeah. Neither can we. Ferns for as far as we can see.
Oh, this might help. Put the ferns on top of trees. Actually, it's all one plant conveniently called a Tree Fern. Clever, eh?
Derek takes early action against a sore spot in his boot. Smart boy. Ahem... that's "soggy boot."
More fresh ferns sprouting out along the trail.
At times it was like walking on wall to ceiling thick soft green carpet.
Looking down from another walkwire... Hey! My boots aren't nearly as muddy as before!
The view upstream from midway along the walkwire.
Finally we reach Loch Maree, where a landslide dammed the river and flooded this basin drowning all the trees now left as stumps in the water.
Another little waterfall nestled deep between mossy rocks.
Eight hours down, four more days to go. We just came from Supper Cove. Our original plan was to press straight on to Kintail Hut, but we ended up taking a day trip up to Lake Roe instead. More later.
We are very ready for dinner by the time we get to the Loch Maree Hut.
On of the hikers in the hut bummed his knee earlier in the trek. He was trying to walk out on it, but when he had the option to radio for a ride, he took it and they came and got him.
With just a daypack between us we make the steep climb up towards Lake Roe. This is our first glimpse of Loch Maree from above the next morning after hiking/climbing a few hours.
The mountain tops were still trapped in wisps of cloud.
The trail markers had to be large and substantial up here. The weather can undoubtedly get very nasty.
Little pools of stranded rain water were all over the place up here.
From here, these mountains simply look like rolling hills. The climb up told us otherwise.
More little lakes... oh, and a sudden drop into deep valley below.
A sole cairn, a small peak in a scene among many peaks.
On our way back down, grassy tufts on rolling hills fading away into the distance down the valley to a small glimpse of Dusky Sound where we started yesterday.
A lone flower survives in this otherwise flowerless landscape.
Derek takes a look down hill on our way back down to the cabin.
Some of the roots along the trail we had to climb up and climb back down. See the trail marker?
Back down along the river, we walked on the flood plain. Can you see where the water level often gets to? Just below the major branching. All around us, these bushes were covered in dried river slime still hanging on.
The largest walkwire we crossed. The water doesn't quite get as high as that, but folks have been stranded on either side because the access to the walkwire from this side comes right down to this level.
We made it back to the hut in time for the sunset.
The Dusky Track in Fiordland National Park, Southwest corner of South Island, New Zealand. Hikers: Cameron Martindell & Derek Spitz
Derek and I are up and going early the next morning. Our hut mates are still sleeping and their gear continues to hang from the ramada trying to dry.