Milford Track (Day 2)
Last night I was working on the blog when the power went out. At 10PM. Fine. I go to sleep.
At 0645 the power comes back on and the light over my bed wakes me up. At 0700 is the lunch packing. You can make your own sandwich, wrap or salad. There's fruit, trail mix, and chocolates as well. Plus a delicious looking lemon wedge. Breakfast is at 0745. Eggs and bacon for me. Then back to the room for the final packing and then on the trail around 0830.
Now there are 48 people on the track and it's sort of a gaggle of people as we start the hike. The first thing you do on the track is to cross a swinging suspension bridge across the Clinton River. The sign says no more than 20 people at a time, but apparently lots of folks didn't read that. Sarah Beth and I approach the bridge and we're like, we'll wait a bit. Let those folks go ahead and then we'll go. I love the suspension bridge, even if it does swing a bit. SB? Not so much. But we make it to the other side and enter the beech forest.
Now it's daylight, but the canyon we are in has very steep mountains on either side which means we don't get direct sunlight. Which means it's a bit dark and chilly as we enter the beech forest. But it really is magical. The trees, the ferns, the moss, the chirping birds. And we are both wearing Eau du Deet so the insects are avoiding us for the most part. A little over a mile into the track, we take a side excursion to look at the wetlands. There's a small section of raised wooden platforms that takes us into the wetland areas where you can see some interesting different kinds of moss, some birds, and some very cool spider webs glistening in the sunlight. Very cool.
Then its back on the trail. Both Sarah Beth and I like walking alone on the trail. There are some walkers who are talkers and you can't really enjoy the walk and all of the amazing nature around you when you are engaged in a random conversation. So whenever someone catches up to us or we catch up to them, we pause for a picture to let them get ahead of us. The trail runs along the Clinton River through the Clinton Canyon. As we are walking, we are surrounded by the noise of the chirping birds and the gurgling flow of the Clinton River to our right. It really is so nice and peaceful. And the river. It's so clear. The river is fed from the snow pack high atop the mountains ringing in the canyon. And the mountains are granite, so the snow run off doesn't really pick up any soil or anything. So when it gets into the river, it's crystal clear. And the with the sun reflecting off the water, it's just enchanting. Several times I thought I would love to jump in, but there was swimming planned for later.
Around 1245, we pulled into the Hirere Falls Lunch Hut for a break. It felt so good to drop the backpack and just rest a bit as we ate lunch. It was really delightful. Oh, but at this point, the sun is overhead and while we are still mainly walking through the shaded beech tree forest, I'm hot. So I've lost my black pullover and just wearing a t-shirt and shorts. And I'm fine. Sarah Beth is still in her coat, hat, and wool mittens. She's cold most of the time. Where as I'm hot most of the time. Oh well.
We continue to make our way up Clinton Canyon and take a small detour to see the Hidden Lake which is nestled right against the almost vertical rock wall of the mountain that frames the canyon. The lake was created by a succession of avalanches where the snow pack collapsed and tumbled down the granite rock face taking some trees and bushes with it. You can definitely see where the avalanches have happened. Next up is Prairie Lake. A small little lake that is fed by a waterfall of melted snow pack from 4000 feet above at the top of the mountain ridge. And this is where I could swim. So I had to walk into the bushes to change into my bathing suit, and while I was doing that, SB stripped down to her sports bra and her hiking shorts and jumped in the water. I'm guessing by her reaction that the water is cold. But I'm still doing it. So I put my sandals on and slowly walk into the water. And it is cold. Very cold. But it kind of feels awesome as I'm now officially hot. One of the other people on the track mentions that no one has gone to the other side of the lake where the waterfall is coming down. Challenge accepted. So I dive into the water and yes ODG it's cold. But I'm fine. I start to swim across the lake and I notice that the water is getting colder. The water is deeper here, so it's not as warmed up by the sun, and the waterfall emptying into the lake is melted snowpack, so it's pretty chilly. But I make it to the waterfall, tag the wall, and then head back. Getting out of the water the sun felt amazing on my skin and I was so refreshed. It was pretty awesome.
After the swim, we went back to the main trail and headed up the canyon to get to the lodge for the night. The Pompolona Lodge. After hiking for 7.5 hours, I was ready to get out of my hiking boots, stretch, and get cleaned up. Sarah Beth and I split a bottle of rose and had some nibblies before dinner. Dinner was great with crime brûlée for dessert, so Sarah Beth was happy.
According to my FitBit, we did over 36K steps which might be a new record for me. The hike tomorrow is shorter, but more strenuous. We need to climb up and over Mackinnon Pass. So a long hard day tomorrow.