Bryan from Milford Sound Lodge.
We’re still alive. We promised to phone home over Christmas, if possible, but it wasn’t. We are now in Milford Sound. The cell phone still doesn’t work and there’s no wifi. There are a couple of terminals, but there’s a lineup for those. I imagine the parents are starting to worry by now. (At least Bethany’s may be – mine are more used to not hearing from me.)
We woke up to wind and rain. Today’s hike was mostly shaded, so some sun would have been nice. But alas, it appeared that our scenery would be even more limited than it was yesterday morning.
The porridge took over half an hour to make in the wind and rain. Breakfast, packing and preparing for the trail took almost 2 hours, so it was about 8:30 when we took off. Hike time was listed at 4-5.5 hours, and we always seem to take the longer time, if not slightly longer. Add a little bit of time for lunch, 10 minutes to reach trail head, and a little bit of time for things to go wrong, and there goes any slack to catch our 2:15 bus to Milford.
During the 10 minute walk to the trail head, we both overheated: we were dressed for both wind and rain, but both were fairly mitigated by the trees. So we ditched the gore-tex and headed out in thin wool layers.
The plan for today involved 40 minutes of steep climbing, then an hour of small ups and downs and then over an hour downhill. We’d then have a roof to enjoy our lunch break before 15 more minutes of climbing followed by 45 minutes of descent to our bus stop. The rain ensured that we didn’t stop for pictures often, but we still had to stop regularly to rest. Three days of hiking with large packs is a lot for us!
Today’s hike was through rain forest at various altitudes. What made this obvious was the large amount of moss growing on the trees. It’s a wonder the trees can stay up with that much parasitical matter on them! The trees themselves were pretty much all beech, except for the time when we passed through a long abandoned apple orchard.
About two hours into our hike, the rain let up enough that we could see more than 100 feet when the trees let us do so. A few minutes later we came to a spectacular waterfall which marked the start of our long descent to the hut. About halfway to our lunch hut I managed to go over on my ankle. My boots had protected me from similar incidents earlier, but this time I wasn’t so lucky. Figuring that my boots were as good as any improvised compression bandage, I took a couple of painkillers and limped on to the hut, which was quite a bit further away than we thought it was!
To make the bus, we only had 20 minutes for lunch and to use the washroom. So for Boxing day we ate our beans cold. The last part of the trail was shared with many day hikers so was very well improved – it was almost like walking on a very steep gravel road. It wasn’t quite that easy, but it felt that way after everything we’ve done over the last three days.
We made it to the shelter with time to spare. The bus was late, so we even had some time to relax.
The bus ride to Milford was spectacular. We probably saw 50 waterfalls down the sides of the fjords because of the morning’s rain.
Milford itself is postcard pretty. After checking into our campsite and having a much needed shower, we headed into “town” to the pub for a hot meal and a walk around. Milford itself is in a national park, and the road tunnel was built in 1991, so there’s only a boat launch, the pub and a couple of lodges. Make sure to check out our photos whenever we get the chance to upload them.