How can I possibly describe the most beautiful hike in the world? I do not even know where to start.
Day 1: We met up at the "Ultimate Hikes" shop and boarded a bus with 33 of our new best friends along with 4 guides and drove a few hours to a boat, where we were picked up and got our first taste of the "Fiordlands." The immense mountains were a bit overwhelming even from the start. We landed 1.5 k from our first "lodge" so day one's hike was simply a 15 minute walk to my way of camping-indoor plumbing, shelter, spotless rooms and clean beds. That was easy! H and I had our own room at each lodge. We ate all meals with our new friends, who came from all over the world! England, Japan, Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, Israel, Canada and even a couple from the US. We had a meet and greet kind of meeting on the first evening. You know how there is always one or two folks in a group that are a pain in the ass? Well, I have to say that in this group there was not ONE PIA! It was an amazing group of people who seemed to gel from the beginning. We had to stand up and say who we would like to "have lunch with." I said Obama, H said his grand-daughters (isn't that sweet?).
Day 2: We woke up at a decent hour, made our own lunches with all the others, then enjoyed a fantastic breakfast of oatmeal!! My first oatmeal in weeks..it is those little things in life that I miss! Day one we started out walking a fairly easy flat track. The beauty of the river, the green, green plants and trees were amazing. Even more amazing was the fact that the sun was shining! More about that later..We walked an "easy" 9 miles to our next "lodge" where we were escorted to our rooms. There was a "laundry" facility which consisted of several wash tubs, soap and two of those old fashioned "ringers" to ring out our clothes and a drying room in which to dry said clothes. Of course I had brought WAY too much clothing but wanted to wash some stuff. I headed over to wash our clothes. On the stairs that led to the "ringers" was chicken wire that was all along the stairs. It was explained to me later that this was to prevent "slipping while wet." Well, come to find out some of this wire was sticking up, which I promptly tripped on and BOOM I went down. When I looked down it wasn't good. There was a chunk of flesh missing along my shinbone and my toe looked like hamburger meat. To make a long gory story short, the guides responded by:
a) Getting the only doctor on the trip to look at it, who put steri strips to hold my skin together-kind of like fake stitches and deemed me healthy enough to keep hiking. H was totally freakout and thought I was a goner for sure. Also the day before I had told this particular MD not to tell anyone he was a doctor for heaven's sake-everyone will want free advice! But then there I was lying in my bed with this Dr. looking at my leg...Can anyone say EMBARRASSED??
b) The guide made it PERFECTLY clear that there is not suing in New Zealand! No liability cases-not ever! I think this was to make us feel better?!? There was a report made to the powers that be about the incident...
c) There was alot of worry and fuss over me the rest of the hike. All of the guides constantly asking me if I was OK. Hey I did IMWA-this is a walk in the park!! I must say although the wound did look kind of nasty, it never hurt. My toe hurt worse than the flesh off my shin wound. I ended up covered in all kinds of bandages..
Day 3: We hiked over a pass! It was the most beautiful of mountains..Again the weather was perfect. Not a cloud in the sky...I was a bit tired but it was nothing harder than hiking up the Sandias except with a pack. We had to carry our own packs-imagine that! I was not expecting this for sure. So all the extra clothes kicked my ass in the end. This day was 10.5 miles up and down the mountain and it was hard and easy at the same time..Afterwards, we hiked another 1.5 hours to a spectacular water falls. I did not want to go but H convinced me you will never be here again-you HAVE to go! So I did and was glad...these water falls are the 3rd largest in the world and did not disappoint! Dinner was in the mess hall and the food was just OK, the people were again delightful.
Day 4: The longest hiking day-13 miles. Nothing like a good old half marathon to end our hike. It started with all three guides flittering around me and my wounds. One was massaging my legs while the other re-dressed my leg. The other one just gave me words of encouragement. It was kind of embarrasing really..
The day was easier than it sounds. Despite being somewhat tired of walking, H and I finished at the front of the pack this day and got to "Sandfly Point" a mere 33.5 miles to the end of the Milford Track. Now a bit about these "sandflies" They are the DEVIL!! I got so many bites on my feet that I really thought I would itch to death that night. Even with DEET, those little buggers got me! And good..I was never so glad to get to a "hotel room" in my life that night. We all arrived at a little more upscaled place at the end of our hike and to our delight more spectacular views of Milford Sound, a beautiful place in the world really..We all got certificates for "completing the trek" along with pictures..The guides were amazing..and made the end so fun!
Day 5: A trip around the sound (lake leading into the Tasman Sea) for a couple of hours then on a bus back to Queenstown. This got a bit long and I was tired of traveling, sore..Ready to get back to our current location..HOTEL WONDERFUL in Queenstown. I immediately went out and found cortisone cream for my 50 bug bites, dressings and bandages for my wounds and I was good to go. We strolled around Queenstown last night and it was so magical. This town is a quiant little tourist place on a huge lake with mountains surrounding-a bit of paradise really!
I can only say that this area gets the most rain in the world! January has the most rain in the summer. We were EXTREMELY lucky to have 5 days of no rain, no clouds, warm weather! The guides say this hardly ever happens, often they have to helicoptor folks out because of flooding. In some ways it is nice when it rains I guess because the waterfalls are more plentiful but I will take the sunshine anyday!! The sun is STILL shining-we went up to the top of a gondola today and enjoyed even MORE paradise views..
Hard to believe but we are off to home tomorrow! I am in shock about this..I am very use to living out of my little suitcase and having my meals served to me each night. Oh wait! H does that at home!!