Milford Track—”The justifiably famous Milford Track is a 53.5km walk often described as one of the finest in the world.” It is also described as one of the wettest in the world with brochures and guide books dampening your expectations with warning of rain and flooding and reminders to pack layers of raingear and plastic bags. What they didn’t prepare us for was four days of brilliant blue skies and sunshine. The scenery truly was just as spectacular as they’d stated and without need for imagination to look past clouds, fog or downpours. Strange that the only times I got wet during the trek were walking behind an enormously powerful waterfall, getting sprayed on the front of the departure boat, and sitting on my waterbottle.
Our sock drawer of fellow trampers included Kiwi families, young couples, old couples, and the token “mountain man” (who carries the lightest pack, eats the lightest food, and immediately began his next 4-day trek as soon as this one ended). And then there’s Kristin and I—aka “those Alaska girls”—usually the last to leave the huts in the morning, the ones bent over taking pictures of plants, and the only ones seen to pull potato chips and fresh vegetables out of their over-stuffed packs for dinner while everyone else ate out of rehydrated pouches. Other less-welcome mates on the trail included the clouds of sandflies that waited for us at each hut. Mosquitoes may pierce with pins, and black flies buzz and bother, but there is no other critter I believe who can so effectively chew chew chew away your deet-flavored skin and sanity until you are reduced to a manic serial killer. Luckily they sleep. Luckily hanging out in crowds distributes their bites. Luckily they don’t taste so bad with peanut butter and jelly. : )
Current stop: After a flurry of buses and bookings and muscling our packs, we made it to Queenstown and then immediately to Glenorchy to take in some more mountain scenery (oh yawn) and to let horses carry our weight for a while. Oddly the horses seemed to take on some of our own trail traits–constant snacking (mine managed a mouthful in the middle of cantering) and tripping over rocks.
Since we’ve arrived here, we’ve also heard mumblings about this thing they call “Christmas.” Not sure exactly what it is except it changed our travel plans on the 25th and seems the source of “orphan parties” around town. ; ) Actually, Kristin and I are struggling to find Christmas in the odd weather, daylight, and absence of all those people and tastes that make us coo in nostalgia. I hope though that all of you aren’t having to search as hard and that the things that make you coo are right within your grasp. :)