You have a big climb and descent today: over a kilometre up and then down again from the Kintail Hut to the Upper Spey Hut. You don’t have to worry. Though it takes me longer now, I did this section in 2006 when I was a mere 58, the first time I walked over Centre Pass, in five hours. I’m afraid today it takes me nearer 7. Still good to be out there. If you are young and fit and get an early start it might be possible for you to walk all the way from here to West Arm and catch the last boat across Manapouri (about 5:15, but don’t quote me). I know I just missed it in 2006, and I was really hanging out for a cold beer in the Moose bar Te Anau after nearly two weeks in the wet forests of Fiordland!
A simply terrible photo of me resting in the Kintail Hut – but with the trout in the background!.
Crossing the Seaforth: I usually walk across the river at this point, but Bryn actually prefers walk wires!
The track follows the Kintail stream upwards towards Centre Pass.
The Kintail Stream is quite gorgey. There are many beautiful views of water crashing down.
The walkwire across the Kintail Stream. I find this the most frightening of the trip. It is so long, such a long way down and car sized rocks below with water torrenting over them should you fall. Bryn just finds it fun! If the stream is low you can cross in the stream below.
High on the face overlooking Tripod Hill and the Gair Loch there is a huge ‘new’ slip. You can see plants are beginning to colonise it. look out for moose browse on fuchsia here in 20 years’ time!
You would not want to be here when this slip formed. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you are a moose – due to the edible regrowth) slips in Fiordland are very frequent. The ‘Christchurch’ earthquake of a few years back created thousands of them. They are as unavoidable as being struck by lightning but if you can you should avoid overhangs. that being said, I have never walked the Dusky without hearing a number of them!
The track becomes steeper.
A bit of a scramble in places.
And steeper. Some places it is so steep you have to climb up a chain for support. Bryn Jones. But it is nowhere near so bad as the descent from lake Roe to Loch Marie. Soon you break out into leatherwoods and then into extensive snowgrass tops.
The mountains tower over you. There are many beautiful views back down along the Seaforth whence you came. if you are like me you will wonder whether you will ever see this view again . In 2006 oI thought I would never see it again, yet as it turns out it has become almost routine. Still i wonder whether I will ever gaze down upon Tripod Hill and the Seaforth ever again – or hear a lonely moose call. As I am quite old now, and ought to go places where Della can accompany me, this may be my last Dusky trip.
Finally you break free of the leatherwoods and have a view of Centre Pass – still a long way up, another half an hour or more! Some of the younger folk leave their packs near Centre Pass and climb Mt Memphis – risking the keas! I must say I have never been tempted, but then I have seen the view many times flying over it.
The cliffs certainly beetle overhead.
There are many strange plants in these high alpine meadows.
The last pinch is a bit of a climb – you wonder whether you will ever make it!
Time for a drink. You will miss that beautiful cystal clear Seaforth River water.
In Centre Pass in 2008 Bryn and I were visited by a pair of Kea who entertained us for quite some time with their many tricks.
Again the cliffs beetle overhead.
Just before you enter the leatherwoods you can turn back and view Centre Pass one last time. There is an hour or so of tree-root hopping to go – nowhere near so bad as the descent from lake Roe to Loch Marie though.
There is a substantial slip to cross. You may not be able to see the markers on the other side – look out for the cairns.
The Dusky still has the odd muddy patch awaiting you.
Finally you arrive at the Upper Spey Hut. Your last night in the wilderness of Fiordland. Time for a feast on all your remaining food (except tomorrow’s lunch and breakfast).