passing the 23 mile marker the track breaks into the open and runs for
a straight section know as the Race Course, because the early
packhorses used to try to pass each other along it.
We have morning tea break at the Boatshed, built in 1928 the house boats used to move supplies up from Lake Ada.
Boatshed we cross the Arthur River by swingbridge and next see Mackay
Falls, a stunning waterfall in one of New Zealand's wettest
areas. The Mackay falls is the photo used in all the "100% Pure
New Zealand" advertisements.
Here's the movie (the fuzziness in the middle is not the fault of
the camera or a trick of the light - it is actually because there is so
much mist in the air from the power of the waterfall)...
to it is Bell Rock, a hollowed out boulder that we could stand inside
and not touch the top - hollowed out by the action of a
waterfall. Evelyn is actually standing inside this rock and not
able to reach the ceiling!
rest of the walk was in the lush rainforest. On this side of the
pass, average rainfall is about 7 meters a year - on the east side of
the pass, it's about 2 meters a year. Note the use of the word
METER. Imagine if we measured rainfall where we live in yards -
not inches - and you get the idea of how much rain there is here.
In fact, the beautiful weather we had on our trek - virtually 3 days of
sun (20 minutes of rain in all perhaps) was like a mini-drought for
The ferns were magnificent and lush...
Many of the tree trunks were covered with brilliant green moss...
We passed the Giant's Gate Falls and the mighty roar was deafening.
were about 4 miles from the end of the Track when we realized that we
needed to hurry up in order to catch the last ferry over to
Milford. Otherwise we'd need to wait another 2 hours to catch the
next one. Mindy started semi jogging and Evelyn followed. This would not have been possible with our tired feet
had it not been for the use of our walking poles and foot fleece, which really made a
tremendous difference. Walking with poles is kind of like
cross-country skiing, using your arms almost as much as your legs.
packs felt heavier than before and we set about breaking our prior
speed records. At long last we arrived at Sandfly Point just as
the ferry was about to depart. (The final stretch of the track
follows tranquil Lake Ada to Sandfly Point where the Maori goddess Te
Hine-nui-te-po released the sandfly to stop men lingering too long in
the beauty of Fiordland.)
E-Pod reached for her camera to take a
last photo of this finish plaque and lo and behold, it was gone.
You can't tell from looking at this photo how miserable she felt about
having lost it.
was her new camera from Hong Kong with all the Milford photos on
it. It must have fallen out when the Pods started their last run
to the ferry dock. Or did it fall off on the side of the trail
where many pit stops were made?
Mindypod reluctantly got on the
ferry carrying both the packs and Epod headed back down the trail in
search of her beloved camera. Singing the song "Oh Camera, where
are you?" I nearly ran back down the trail looking from side to side...
trail gods were kind and 2.5 miles back, Brian, from the last group,
had found the camera on the trail and was holding it up. What a
blessing! Here's my hero Brian and his Mom Patricia...
Epod shouldered Brian's Mom's pack and happily walked back to the ferry
dock adding another 5 miles to her journey that day, ever so grateful
that she had found her camera.
And if that wasn't enough, here's
the final coup de grace of the day. While waiting for the last
group to come in, she had a nice chat with the ferry boat driver and
told him of her experience in Russell when she was invited to drive the
So when this ferry left the dock he asked her if
she wanted to pilot it in. And that's what happened. Drove
it all the way across the water to Milford Sound and once again had a
beautiful, gentle docking experience. Mindy was waiting at the
dock and couldn't believe it when she saw her Pod piloting and docking
the ferry. Two times in one trip. Who would believe
it!!!! Here's Captain Evelyn... (and here's a movie: EJ and her second boat skippering )
that evening at Mitre Peak Lodge we were given our certificates of
completion. It was a fun celebration with our 3 loyal guides
happily posing for photos with us...
Here's a very fun little movie of the Certificate Celebration (our
friends Pamela and Mark are in the middle of the movie of the pods too - because they were so cute and because all
of us wish we had someone to carry us up piggyback - we were all so
sore and in pain)...