Sharing The Peapod's Travel Adventures...

The Pods do the Milford Tramp...Day One

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This entry was posted on 12/21/2006 11:32 PM and is filed under New Zealand.

The Milford Track




Day One of the Peapods on the Milford Track...

The Milford Track has long been described as "the finest walk in the world".  Quintin Mackinnon pioneered the route in 1888 and we Pods decided to follow his footsteps.
 
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We had signed up for a group adventure with the "Ultimate Hike" people.  This meant that they would transport us there, provide us with lodging at night - we would have our own private room with "ensuite" bath (bathroom in the same room), and 3 good meals a day.  We would get a hot breakfast and pack our lunch everyday.  Dinner would be simple but delicious.  We would also have 3 delightful guides along with us - James (Sir James), his brother Anthony (Aunt Darling) and Hiro (My Hero) to make sure that we were comfortable, tape up any blisters and provide exquisite company to all of us.

The tramping route is 33.5 miles of challenging climbs and descents, mainly done over 3 days.  We each would use two adjustable walking poles, which would make a huge difference to our knees and quads.   The tramp route strictly restricts the number of trampers to 90 per day, all of us going in the same direction so that you never see anyway coming towards you.  Ultimate Hikes gets 50 allocations and there are 40 independent hikers allowed to tramp per day.  The independent hikers (the hard core ones) bring their own food, cooking pots and sleeping gears.  They stay in nice huts with communal bathrooms. 

We first went and bought our "tracking" outfit which we would wear for the next 5 days.  It consisted of long thermal underwear, nylon type pants, a merino wool long sleeved undershirt, a merino wool long sleeved overshirt and our own  warm jackets.  We had two pair of socks, a cute as can be neck scarf, a wool hat, gloves, sun hat and toiletries.  We had a rain jacket and a back pack to carry our misc. things, lunches and anything that we weren't wearing.  They weren't that heavy, but we were still aware of them on our backs.

Most importantly, we bought a bag of "FOOT FLEECE".  This is a little baggie of natural fleece, specially washed and then delicately carded.  You pull off a piece of this fleece and wrap it loosely around and between your toes and anywhere else on your feet where you might form a blister.  You don't use tape with it.  Then put your sock on over the wool.  It would save our feet from getting any blisters.



Our adventure began at 9am in Queenstown where we boarded a "coach" (bus) and drove to Te Anau to pick up the rest of our group.  There were only 29 of us, instead of the usual 50, because of the Xmas holiday, so we were very lucky.  The group was varied in nationality - Japanese, UK, Aussie, Kiwi, Canadian, Denmark and U.S.  They were also varied in their fitness ability and we soon found out that this trip was not meant for wimps or complainers.  It was going to be tough and challenging for all of us.



These people would be our new best friends for the next 5 days...



In Te Anau we boarded a launch which took us to the northern end of Lake Te Anau. 




Here is E-Pod shmoozing with the captain...



(The one boat we were on that she couldn't drive!)

From there, we took a short walk to the historic Glade House where we would be spending our first night.






Food is dropped by a helicopter every Thursday.  The helicopter dropped this just as we were arriving.




We then went on a wonderful nature walk where we saw some beautiful birds - especially the fan tail bird which spreads out its tail and fans it rapidly creating an eddy of air which confuses the notorious sand fly gnats.  In their confusion, they're unable to fly well and the bird then eats them.

We also learned about the red beech trees which are as large as our California redwoods.  They have a very non existent tap-root system.  Instead, this magnificent tree spreads its roots outwards and intertwines them with other trees for its own stability.  When one of them falls it takes down all of the neighboring trees on either side of it.  The next few days we would often see naked mountain sides where one beech tree was responsible for bringing down a huge slide of trees.

We saw our first wood ear mushroom growing on a tree.  This hard rubbery mushroom grows in profusion on trees that are decaying and dying.   The trees may still take many years to die, but these mushrooms mean that the tree is no longer in its prime.



We returned to the Glade House where we had a nice meal and went to bed early in preparation for our next big day of walking.



Here's our guide Sir James showing us how to wear a sheet if you want to be a night fairy.  This was also a demonstration how to use the bed sheets provided to the folks who did not have private rooms and had shared bunk bed accomodations.  We were happy with our private room!




 

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