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Dart-Rees and Wanaka

USA | Sunday, 29 April 2012 | Views [561]

Again, it has been a while since I put something down. I have a rain day so Ill recap what has been going on with me and maybe talk of the future. I have been pretty down and its been hard to be positive about my trip since I found out that I needed to repair my van. It will be costly and the mechanic I have on the task just does not have the type of get it done attitude I would hike for him to have. With that out of the way I will be sun shiny. I got together with a friend from Queenstown whom is a tramper. James gave took time out of his schedule to go over the Mt. Aspiring area to suggest some great hikes. I had convinced myself that I can do a 5 day hike on a slightly technical track. The last thing I want to do out here is get hurt or lost in the mountains. My mother would kill me if I died. I loaded up with supplies and headed to this small town north of Queenstown called Glenorchy. It's a tiny town, but is the start of many popular hikes and rivers. The town is also the start of a proposed tunnel to Milford sound. I have spoken of Milford before so see that post for more info on the place. To say the least it's a popular place. In the words of one local I spoke to "We have a nice quiet town and we don't want all that traffic coming through here. Also imagine if there is a fire in that 12 km tunnel." Conservationists are also against the proposal because it will allow more people to get to some beautiful places easier than they can now. Currently you must take a 5 hour bus ride to get there. I think if you make it easy for people to get into some tough survival situations it could lead to problems. Also what is next? segways on the hiking trails? Ok, back to my story... I got myself prepared and packed the day ahead and had to organize transport to the track. I decided to park my vehicle at the end of the track and get a lift to the start. Another break from the norm I choose to hike up the Dart River and out the Rees Valley. This was suggested to me by James and I later found out it is how DOC wardens tend to hike the track. With a shorter first dat it was well worth the change of pace. I was hiking against the general flow of traffic. My first night was great I was all alone in the Daleys Flat hut save the hut warden. She had her own quarters and left me to myself. I Had a small fire in the heater and ate cold Lentil Kumara soup (I made it myself). The next day was a mellow 5 .5 hour hike to the Dart hut. It started out wet and cold and became warm and sunny. When I broke out of the hut I was on a sloping plain with frozen waist high grass. It slowly melted onto my legs making me wet but it was no harm. I got to the Dart Hut and settled in for the afternoon. I also met some dudes from the USA, they had been working in Antarctica. My third day of the hike was my 30th birthday, so sad. It was a great day, the sun was out, a chill in the air and I was an old man. I did not share my little secret with anybody there. In the end I just noted it in the guest book of the hut. On my birthday I choose to go to the Cascade Saddle. I leave all my stuff at the Dart hut and its just a day hike. It took me 4 hours to get to the top and then return was about 3 hours. It was a great valley hike then I had to start the assent to the top. It is not a clear path the whole hike. You must go from point to point. This is marked by unnatural stacks of rocks or orange pole markers. The climb is further complicated by the rocks that have been carved from the ground by erosion. The predominate rock type there is schist. It's a brittle type that breaks off in sheets and is like walking on a loose shingle roof. Once you start to slide these rocks act like 1000 snowboards under you. I climbed carefully and had only a few close calls. The last 30min was a great semi-flat cruise. I "Yee-Haw"ed off of both sides into both valleys. The Dart glacier head and arm stretching out down the valley I walked up, with craggy peaks and side glaciers. The other side was Mt. Aspiring park, all green and lush with spike topped peaks. It was a great spot for my lunch, but quite cold and windy. It was slow going down because thats how you dont hurt yourself. More men die on the decent than the assent. Once on the valley floor it was smooth rolling but windy and cold in the shadow of those peaks. At one point I jogged for about 200 meters to keep up my warmth. I was in no danger but it was the thing to do at that point. I had a good bowl of ramen soup and for supper I had another dehydrated meal of Bobotine, it was great. The first non-alcohol birthday in many years. The next day I started my assent then decent up and over the Rees saddle at 1471 Meters above sea level. I got to the Rock shelter hut and started a fire in the fore box. The next day was my hike out. It happens to be the longest day but not too challenging. A short 2 hours through the bush and then starts the flat cattle fields with many river crossings. I tried to keep my boots dry, I even took boots and socks off for one river crossing. This was a waste of sorts as I sank in wet mud an hour later. Oh well, at least I could change my boots and drive back to Glenorchy for the evening. I celebrated with a burger and a beer for supper. The next morning I helped a friend park his car and do the same transport I did for the same hike. I should have stayed and done other hikes but I bailed for Wanaka where I could get the iVan worked on. An almost a week later I am still here, I have not gotten a lot done here but reading and dealing with the iVan. I will probably be here another week or so but I am determined to do more day hikes and I might do some Mt biking. There are some great trails around here and I mean to explore. From here, who knows. At least this place has free wifi and a good kitchen and a New World market. I have been applying on line for jobs all over but I have not heard back yet. Have a great evening, weekend, day or whatever it is there? Peace, Love and Pura Vida.           p.s. if you are wondering what iVan is, send me an email. [email protected]

Tags: cascade saddle, glenorchy, ivan, rees-dart, wanaka

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