Hardest thing I’ve ever done (voluntarily!), and the most rewarding. Here’s just a few photos from our adventures on the Milford Track, South Island, New Zealand.
Our group had a total of 15 people, only 6 of us from the US, all good and true friends. Here we are on Day 1, after a 2.5 hour bus ride, an hour long boat ride and a short mile hike to the first lodge: Matt, Becket, Jim, me, Kelly and Meg. After the photo we went on a 2 hour hike with a great guide to learn about the flora and fauna. It was fascinating (and our only walk without backpacks, what a joy!)
We walked 10 miles the next day, Day 2. They call it the “Easy Day.” We called it stunningly beautiful, and not always such easy walking, up and down hills, over some very tricky rocky areas.
Day 3: When they call it the hard day, you’d better believe them. Follow this valley back as far as your eye can see, and you still won’t be able to see where we started on Day 2. On Day 3 we only went 9 miles, but 5 of them were up up up, the last 2 miles up were, well, ridiculous. And then we were on top of the world, with perfect weather and a rare 360 degree view of mountain peaks all around us. One of our guides had been up 6 times this season and had never been able to see the views, it always being clouded over. The 4 miles down were tough–steep downhill on rocky, difficult terrain.
Day 4 is called the “Long Day” and I’m not sure 13 miles has ever seemed so long. The track was easy in some spots, but rocky and difficult in others. Most of us felt like our feet had been beaten by baseball bats by the time we made it to the end. But oh oh oh the forest is lovely; primeval ferns and lichens and fern trees and moss and flute-like bird song and it seemed impossible that a dinosaur wouldn’t be behind the next tree munching on vegetation. And the waterfalls? One after the other, one more beautiful than the next.
On Day 5 you wake up in Milford Sound, soak in the views, feel overwhelmed with gratitude at how lucky you are to be in such a gorgeous place with such wonderful people. Then a boat ride around the sound and a 4.5 hour bus ride back to Queenstown. Then hamburgers as big as your head from Fergberger’s, a couple of glasses of wine and then…. bed! Oh boy. Here’s Milford Sound, from the window of our hotel room, no kidding:
More later –right now bed is calling. But I can’t end without thanks to all at Ultimate Hikes, including our guides Megan, Amy and Masako for doing such an amazing job creating this experience, and being so good to the land while doing it. And to a truly amazing bunch of friends–Matt, Kelly, Meg, Becket, and especially Jim, who made all the difference in the world. I love you all.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Lambs are doing well, although Truffle’s twins are being hand fed by my wonderful sitters (yeah Danielle and Mike!). As I suspected, Truffle’s udder is not working well, but she is giving some milk, and with all the great care they are getting they’re doing great. Willie is good, sounds like he is in love with his two new Cavalier visitors. Sounds like it is cold there though, 15 F, a far cry from spring here!