Milford Track Day 2 - Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut

Mintaro Hut, Milford Track Travel Blog

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My river pose

Sabado Enero catorce (Saturday January 14th)

See how that spanish is coming along, impressive huh :) That will come in handy if we run in to any Spaniards that we need to barter with, or tell the day of the week to, in order to make safe passage on the track. It's actually in preparation for some South American/Spanish travels later in the year, coming soon to a travelogue near you.

We woke at, I don't know, let's say 7 a.m. This is the part of the trip where I start to not have a clue what time it is since I have turned off my phone and buried it deep in my pack. Not that you can actually get phone reception to have your tranquility interrupted, I just really like not having a clue what time it is.  Brekky is fairly simple, take oats, pour in hot water, eat.

Drew in the avalanche valley
My brother even managed to master that one (I may be in trouble when he reads this :) )

So off in to the wilderness we went, making our way through the moss-covered trees, not taking too long to appear in these incredible valleys.  I'm going to refer to them as avalanche valleys, which I'm sure will upset my geologically inclined brother, but suffice to say that walking through there with these massive walls either side of you absolutely coated in waterfalls is a pretty special feeling.  As I exclaimed at the time, I'm going to try to set up one of those views in my backyard when I get home.  I would say a large portion of the day's trek is through this kind of landscape, mostly flat, always spectacular.  An offshoot to Hidden Lake reveals where a landslide blasted out a massive hole to form the lake, it gives you a bit of a feel for the power of these things.

Mike and Andrea in avalanche valley

Towards the end of this valley, we begin to catch a glimpse of glaciers and eventually our first look at McKinnon's pass, the "high bit" of the trek which we are soon to encounter.  Roughly the last hour and a half of the walk is up a gentle gradient, providing your calves with a taste of what's to come.

We arrived at the next hut, Mintaro, fairly early in the afternoon, and at this point did something either quite clever or quite stupid depending on your perspective.  Basically Mintaro hut is towards the bottom of one side of McKinnon's pass, and the following day is all about climbing over this to get to the next hut.  My brother's spidey-sense was tingling, or he might have looked at the weather report, and he suggested that the following morning was going to be rained out so we should go up the pass that afternoon to get some good photos in the sunshine.

Hidden lake, rock blasted out by landslide
  So the bottom line is that after 6 hours of walking we had some salami and cheese for lunch, then after about an hour's break walked for another 2 hours up a 500 metre climb.  History shall judge our sanity

I'm going to weigh in on the side that puts this as a sensible move since we did get some fantastic views that we know hikers the following day missed out on.  Again this was one of those places that you could stare at the mountains and valleys for a long time, or at least until the wind picked up and made us want a hot beverage.  So back down the mountain we went, often thinking about just how much harder this was going to be in the morning with our packs on, we felt it better that we knew what was coming at least

Dinner was freeze-dried asian chicken curry which was damn good actually.

The scenery ain't too bad
  We decided that we could spare some of the salami, the mindset being make our packs as light as possible before the morning. So we added that in along with our luxury carrot, and it all tasted rather good if we don't say so ourselves, keep an eye out for that recipe in the next Jamie Oliver book

After a speech by ranger Peter Jackson (bet he never cops it for that name!), the evening's entertainment was a stage show put on by Mike and Andrea and their hunt for chocolate in their packs, followed by a joke-telling session by the Aussie family in our room.  With news of the bad weather approaching the following day, thoughts turned to how we could get a free helicopter ride to the other side of the mountain.  Apparently only a few days earlier this had been necessary due to a deluge or rain, so maybe if we just filled the rain gauges.... After all that walking, and with my earplugs, getting to sleep wasn't a huge problem.  Though I was assured by those poor ear-plug-less souls that there was 'a bear in our room' such was the snoring from the father of the family.

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My river pose
My river pose
Drew in the avalanche valley
Drew in the avalanche valley
Mike and Andrea in avalanche valley
Mike and Andrea in avalanche valley
Hidden lake, rock blasted out by l…
Hidden lake, rock blasted out by …
The scenery aint too bad
The scenery ain't too bad
A quick 500 m climb to Quintin McK…
A quick 500 m climb to Quintin Mc…
The glacier hurtles towards Drew
The glacier hurtles towards Drew
We battle each other near the clif…
We battle each other near the cli…
The lake near pass hut on McKinnon…
The lake near pass hut on McKinno…
Spectacular views of the valley
Spectacular views of the valley
Relaxing on the helipad after comi…
Relaxing on the helipad after com…
Mintaro Hut, Milford Track
photo by: schner