If it took a little over 6 hours to walk from Hauroko to the Halfway Hut (as it did me this year – I was quicker seven years ago, no surprise), then it will take slightly longer to walk to Lake Roe Hut. Do not time yourself to arrive after dark. The hut would be very difficult to find in poor light as it is off-track to the right.
The same view from the air. It is a large valley. Room for a few moose there.
The trail begins: most of the day is tree root hopping (but it is not bad going) save between the two walk wires and after yoiu break out onto the snow grass tops for the last half hour or so.
Pretty views of the Hauroko Burn below.
Very roughly it is about one-third of the journey to the first walk wire, one third to the next, and the last third to lake Roe.
You could walk along the river fishing between the two walk wires. The track is almost always close by and in sight on the true right bank in this section.
Lunch at the first walk wire. I was in no hurry. My new Icebreaker ‘Departure 2’ wool shirt (http://au.icebreaker.com/en/midlayers/-departure-ii-long-sleeve-shirt-plaid/103036.html?dwvar_103036_color=301) worked wonderfully in Fiordland. It was soft and comfortable and protected me from sandflies. The breast pocket was just the right size for my pocket camera (Nikon Coolpix S7000). It was a beautiful temperature for the days’ walking (about 15C) and had no unpleasant smell to it even after more than a week of wear without washing (it did get wet a couple of times though – as when I fell over in the Jane Burn for example). Once wet it did not strike cold after less than a minute, and dried out completely (from soaking) on my back in less than an hour. Highly recommended. It now comes in a beautiful green and black plaid – something for my Xmas list!
The cap is an Icebreaker too – one I see they have alas dropped from their product line this year – but it is a beauty too http://www.theultralighthiker.com/best-deer-hunters-cap-best-ultralight-cap/. Its weight is just enough that your head doesn’t get cold without getting hot on warmer days (or wet with sweat either). It has an excellent peak which keeps the rain out of your eyes, so important if you are old like me, and need glasses. I used a number of other Icebreaker/wool garments which I will talk about in a later post.
A note on sandflies: Generally they do not bother you when moving or of a night but some places especially near water they can be terrible. It is easy to believe that folks have been driven to suicide by them. Some places they will cover every exposed piece of skin in the blink of an eye. Most folks are allergic to their bites and come up like the surface of the moon in an agony of itching. There is a solution: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/insects-can-ruin-a-camping-trip/ Come prepared. I always carry extra repellent and ointment as it is easy to lose one from your pockets.
It is relatively easy flat going between the two walk wires; time for a spot of fly-fishing perhaps.
Through a serene and peaceful forest.
Note: I have a confession (of stupidity) to make. Somewhere during this section between the two upper walkwires on the Hauroko (You can imagine it is in the photo above) I encountered quite a stong ‘animal’ smell not unlike a goat. I thought to myself at the time, ‘Well, it’s not a deer’. Then I thought, ‘Could it be a plant’. You know how Dogwood in Australasia is so named because it smells somewhat like wet dog. I thought to myself ‘I wonder whether the Leather Wood which you encounter just before the tops in NZ (and which is redolent with the musty odour of countless deer) is so called because it smells of leather?’ There is a sweet cloying honey-like smell you sometimes encounter in these Fiordland forests I have never been able to identify, nor has anyone else I have spoken to been able to pick it for me. (it is not the flower of the ubiquitous tiny epiphytic orchid). I scanned the forest about. Saw nothing. Thought to myself, ‘I do not want to arrive at Lake Roe in the dark’ (The hut is hard enough to find), and carried on. Since then, I have bothered to check what a moose smells like. You guessed it. Just like what I was smelling on the Hauroko that day. There was a moose not 200 metres upwind from me, and I walked on. Despite having a tarp and hammock and weeks of food, so that I could have spent days hunting it! And I would have doubtless ‘put it up’ withing ten minutes! Despite the fact that one of the important reasons I go there is to see a moose. Despite the fact that I had photographed fresh moose barking just back there a little (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/). Despite the fact there is a $100,000 reward for a photo of a NZ moose, I walked on! : Lesson: Trust your nose!
Until you come to the second walk wire.
After which the track starts to gradually rise until it eventually breaks out onto the snow grass tops. You know you are about there by the strong smell of deer in the leatherwood forests near this boundary.
You climb up the Hauroko Burn which becomes quite steep in places, falling in small cascades.
You begin to get views of the tops ahead and to the sides.
And the view behind down the valley is quite spectacular.
It is a pleasure though to at last start to break out into snow grass country.
The way ahead is now clear (if not well marked). it is straight over that hill in the centre.
Finally you come to Lake Laffy on your right. The hut is at the head of the lake behind those leatherwoods. As this lake empties into the Hauroko it may even hold trout. Worth a try at dusk.
First view of the hut.
Lake Roe Hut is just off to the right behind Lake Laffy snuggled amongst the leatherwoods.
Just in front of the hut a comfy seat has been provided.
The view in front of the seat is quite spectacular.
You can walk up the hill behind the hut and get some spectacular views of Lake Roe after which the hut is named.
PS: You should never ignore smell. If you learn to smell out deer, you will see more deer than any other six hunters. A month ago I was walking up the Hauroko Burn (in Fiordland NZ) for the second day. Between the first and second walkwire after the halfway Hut there was an unusual smell. I felt that it was an animal, but not your typical red deer smell which becomes almost cloying towards the leatherwood tops. It was more of a goaty smell than a sambar smell. I stopped and gazed around for a couple of minutes, but as I had at least a six hour walk for the day (I am old) I headed off again when I could make nothing out. Having checked what moose smell like, I now know I was smelling a moose. There had been some sign, mostly old – but some quite fresh barking. I now realise I should have just prepared to make camp there and hunt until I had a photo of that moose. I had my hammock and tarp with me, my sat phone so I could tell my wife what I was doing, nearly a fortnight’s food…The country there is getting harder and harder for me – I really don’t know whether i will be back. perhaps if i have yet another back operation – and lose a couple more stone! The moose was there, not 200 yards from me (and up wind!) and I just walked away! I know Edith Piaf says, ‘Je Ne Regret Rien’, but I am not Edith: I do regret that!