Sunday, April 6, 2008

Seeking primordial puddles in Fiordland

In the week gone by I joined my friend Roger for a few days off to seek definitive photographs of a primordial nature in southern New Zealand's Fiordland. I feel so privileged as I compose this blog as it reminds me yet again [2 days after completion] of how such a journey is where we can learn from being tested as nature imposes it's rules and time-tables, thereby challenging us to be gentle in the soul and mindful of how to best live our lives...

Our entry point to this remote land was the Middle Fiord of Lake Te Anau - here we see it in the distance to the right, from Te Anau Downs at dawn...
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Our boatman Vern, a living legend in Fiordland with a wealth of information gleaned from a lifetime's professional hunting with an accompanying acute observation of nature...
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At the head of the Middle Fiord we walked to another lake where we transitioned to another of Vern's boats [heli'd in several yrs. ago] to take us further west...
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The left ridge on this mountain was one of our potential goals - we did get to the bottom of it, but not up it, but then, being Fiordland, the next front was upon us the next day with accompanying rain...
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The views boating were stunning, despite the bite of old man frost...
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It was sobering to consider just how remote we were going, when you need so many resources to just get in and out to the start of the foot work! This was as far as we could go with Vern's help , so we said our good-byes, asked him to pick us up on Friday, Roger stepped ashore, and we pushed him off into the current...
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We then headed up this river bed into the frost smoke. Note the hut on the right in the shade - one we would be so happy to warm up in on our very wet and cold return journey...
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Yet another lake, but no boat on this one! After crossing the outlet seen here, on a nearby 3 wire bridge we then tackled the rather rugged marked route which was to take us around to the area seen here a bit on the right of center...
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Into the primordial stuff...
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We had a couple of days in a hut with Roger doing some solo exploring and myself enjoying a day off from life snoozing, as the rain pattered about. But all good things come to an end, and we headed off early on Friday to retrace our steps in quite a storm - about a 7 out of 10 on the Fiordland scale, with periods of approx. 1 inch of rain per hour falling. In this sort of rain even kit inside plastic bags gets wet, and we were to witness sheets of water hitting the lake surfaces and then bouncing up again - something I've seen before, but it's still a marvel! This shot shows the waterfalls starting to leap into action, with a nice primordial swamp foreground...
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Rain or no rain, Roger had one shot left, so out came the "third member" [tripod], the big Technorama pano film camera and I held a hat over proceedings...
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The trip out was technical - this is not disneyland in the rain, but Fiordland in it's enchanting natural uncompromising state that simply forces respect and humility and lays a flavour of fragility over one's self...
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Roger on one of the 3 wire bridges - once mastered their consistency of footing is a welcome change from accompanying courses of green boulders, slippery tree roots and branches [yes, you're often well off the ground in this terrain, be it on bridges or on land]...
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There is always on-going attrition in the rain-forest - the trick is to not be under a tree going down...
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Not far from meeting Vern - the rain is easing, the bush enchanting, with the shades of green defying description in their luminosity...
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The last hut out before the boat, and just as you'd expect from a considerate and gentle seasoned campaigner in the hills, Vern was in there with a couple of Wapati hunters who'd come down from the tops before the storm, and they had a brew on the fire ready for us soaked rats, and the hut all nice and cosy...
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Back on a Lake Te Anau after our first boat trip in the wee local boat, and now into the larger one for a bumpy trip home...
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Looking back...
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