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Milford Track – Day 2 – April 2, 2009 – Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut – 16.5km (10.25 miles)

I was probably one of the first people to leave the Clinton Hut. I forgot to bring along my travel clock, which turned out to be a blessing. It was much better not to be constantly checking the time. Though I might’ve spent more time on the track this day if I had realized how early I was going to arrive at the next hut. I think I left around 8am. Because the mountains are so high all around, the sunlight doesn’t reach us until late in the morning. There was still a dusky darkness on the track as I left. But when the trees would part and you could see out to the mountains, their tops were bathed in early morning sunlight.

Some of my favorite parts were the forests where the trees were covered in hanging moss. It’s called old man’s beard and it reminds me of something (someone?)…

It’s not a parasitic moss, it just uses the trees for support and collects rainwater.

What an amazing blue sky! More clouds like steam:

When I passed out of the forest into an opening, I was all alone to enjoy the spectacular mountain views.

One of the many seemingly unfrightened birds that will appear as soon as you sit down and are quiet. This one is the Weka:

An inquisitive and friendly New Zealand Robin:

Loved this old, knarled tree:

More mossy trees:

A short diversion off the main path brought us to this mirror pool next to amazing abstract colors and shapes in the granite. Kind of unreal:

Sam and Bill caught up to me somewhere near here. Nice to see some friendly faces. They were soon far ahead of me, though.

A happy tramper:

What is left of what were once ubiquitous glaciers in this area:

A look at the path:

I got into the rocks at this point. Great pinkish moss on this one:

Somewhere along the way my blister patches rubbed off and the pain returned on the left foot, as well as a burgeoning blister on the right. I arrived at Mintaro hut in the afternoon, no idea what time it was. Found a bunk in the 8-bunk room on the main floor with the kitchen. There was a larger room in the attic with more bunks. This time I got a bottom one. Lucky me.

Outside the hut, the lower angle sunlight was lighting up the beech trees in a very attractive way:

To me, the look like very large Bonzai trees. Here is a shot of the Mintaro Hut:

Somewhere I had read that if it was a clear day you should make the effort to go up to the top of the MacKinnon pass, as the next day may not be so clear. I wanted to give it a try, but when I took off my shoes the big blister was oozing wet goo. And I was pretty tired. I figured it was a better idea to let the blister dry out for the rest of the evening so that I wouldn’t be in pain for the big climb the next day. So I walked around in flip-flops the rest of the night. I sat in the hut drinking tea and looking at the bird book they had there. Made some food, chatted with Bill, fussed around with my pack and its contents. After many hours I was surprised that it was still light outside. My sense of time was totally shot. I asked Bill what time he had arrived at Mintaro, because I hadn’t been too far behind. He said 3:15. I probably got there around 3:45. Much earlier than I thought. The next day I resolved to really take my time. I had from sun up until sun down which was at least 12 hours, to go 14km, which takes an estimated 6-7 hours. No reason to get to the hut early and sit around there.

Out on the helipad as the light is finally dying:

I think I was the first person into bed. After happily consuming a whole can of Rice Pudding for dessert. I would need the carbohydrates for the next day, for sure.


  1. You know I just love the photos of the trees – WOW. And of course the little birds. But the best of all is the photo of the tramper ‘oh so happy’. Will read it all again tomorrow when I get up. Absolutely loving the posts. Thanks, and lots of love, Mom

  2. old man’s beard

    Seeing as how your dad only has a mustache, the Old Man’s Beard probably doesn’t remind you of your dad. The picture reminded me of Spanish Moss, which I’ve seen in Charleston, SC and Kerry says she thinks you had in JAcksonville, FL.

    My favorite pics are the granite rocks – looks like an abstract painting. I also like the mossy trees because it reminds me of being there. That is what I remember most about Fjordland: everything was covered in green like nothing I had ever seen.

    Hope the foot got better. : )


  3. rl

    All the photos are great, but I like the bird ones especially b’c birds vary so much from continent to continent. Cracks me up that the NZ Robin is so different from other robins. Take care. -Robin 😉 P.S. Some of this reminds me of the Sierras. Well only some of it.

  4. Stunning…

    the pics absolutely take my breath away. So beautiful! Wow. They are so amazing I feel like the best I can do is just grunt “oooohs” and “ahhhhs” at you. Perhaps I am also a little starved for nature.

    The light through the ‘big bonzais’ – the little robin – the rocks reflecting in the water and lookin all crazy…. Stunning!

    Hope your blisters healed up. No pun intended.


  5. Awesome!

    Man that little robin is so cute! Like a little windup toy. I can’t believe all of these pictures are just one day of the hike. Incredible. I get so excited when I see you have a new post. 🙂 Thanks for sharing so much with us.

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