day thirty-nine: november 7, 2015: pompolona lodge to quintin lodge
Today was the big day, up and over Mackinnon Pass. only nine miles today, but a significant elevation ascent and descent in the same day down to Quintin Lodge and then a short side walk to Sutherland Falls, the world's fifth highest waterfall at 1904 ft/580 m.
Our day started off hiking up the Clinton Valley with incredible cliffs and waterfalls trickling down from the snowmelt above.
Before the major uphill zig-zags we walked thru some dense, lush forest. There was no shortage of green.
This was the big day for me, since I'm not very fond of uphill walking. The grade was about one meter elevation gain for every eight meters walked. It actually wasn't as bad as I thought. Phew!
As we got closer to the pass, we got closer to the clouds it began to drizzle. We put our rain jackets on and pulled out our pack covers over our bags.
Just before the highest point of the pass, we arrived at Mackinnon's Memorial constructed in 1912. Back in 1887, Quintin Mackinnon was employed by the Otago Survey Department to find a tourist route to the Milford Sound. After the discovery of the pass, Mackinnon spent time improving the track and offering to guide tourists from Te Anau to Milford Sound over the pass. He was also contracted to deliver the mail to Milford Sound. In November of 1892, he left from Te Anau for Milford and never arrived. The wreckage of his boat was found on the shores of Lake Te Anau but his body was never recovered.
Just on the over side of the memorial, we could see Quintin Lodge where we would be staying that night in the next valley.
Jonathan raced down from the pass to Quintin Lodge, making it down in 1.5 hours, while the suggested time is 2.75 - 3.5 hours to make the steep downhill walk. He did an 1.5 hour return trip to Sutherland Falls, the world's fifth highest waterfall at 1904 ft/580 m. When he arrived at the falls, he said they were incredible and an independent walker stripped down to his underwear and dove in. Eek! I can't imagine how cold the water was and he would've had to walk back to the lodge in the rain!
With the clouds moving in and out so slowly, sometimes it looked somewhat still. Jonathan took a time-lapse just outside the lodge to see the misty clouds moving about. So crazy to see the clouds moving so quickly!