We caught the real journeys boat from Te Anau Downs. From there Glade wharf is an hour away. Very cold on deck, learnt some history of the area. Many guides, a couple of lodge staff that missed earlier boat, and a dozen independent walkers who do the track and stay at the Doc huts.
20 minute walk to Glade House where we did a nature to learn some of the plants and features.
Then room allocation, in a bunk room with 3 others. But yay, after a shower Graham and I got upgraded to a twin suite. Very comfy.
A briefing followed, then a very yummy dinner. More briefings. And bed. Feeling a bit flush, but came to nothing.
Next day, no hot water, teething issues, but all good. Yummy breakfast of eggs, sausage and bacon.
Walk to lunch hut. And then on to Pompalona Lodge for a coffee and scone. A bunk room 4 others. And then yes Graham and I got the upgrade again.
We had the walker briefing followed by dinner and a guide briefing. Then some free time, do some stretches, chat with other guides and then an early night, lights out when generator goes off early at 9.30 instead of the usual 10.
Slept well and up for coldish shower, and then bacon and eggs bene. We eat well out here.
Light rain off and on most of day. Starting to question my sanity doind this. But body is holding out so far. All the training is hard going, a lot of stops as we go to learn about different areas in terms of risks, history plants etc…
When we were about 20 mins out from Pompalona Lodge we heard a massive avalanche crashing down the valley further up. And today we saw one, quite high up in the walls of the valley but very cool. We also heard some massive ones this afternoon under the Jervois Glacier. We got into Quinton Lodge about 4.40pm. Dinner was very nice. Again we are feed well. I will cover off some the history around the lodges in later blogs.
We had a quick briefing tonight followed by some free time.TThen bed.
A full day at Quinton Lodge. This started with breakfast, the briefing then with near full packs out Sutherland Falls. Snack break, photo ops, and back to lodge. On the way we had a scenario to deal with. We have come across a barely conscious hiker who is down with a suspect able break.
The training has consisted of many such scenarios, this along with recollections of incidents where they happened along the track has left us all feeling like we can also manage a crisis situation with confidence.
We have a huge amount of support on the track. 3 other guides, Queenstown base and of course the lodge staff.
After our return to lodge we had shelter training and visited an old replica hut built from beech using Old Time tools and techniques by one of the lodge managers, Bill Anderson about 70 years ago. Will do a separate post on him later, quite the charector.
This was followed by more briefings then a welcomed lunch of mince pies, sausage rolls, salads and sandwiches.
Afternoon was map training, followed by some freetime. I joined about 8 others who headed to a swimming spot for a swim. Very cold beautiful and well worth it.
Dinner that night was fantastic, dory fillets followed by a very nice caramel dessert. We are the test subjects for the lodge staff getting ready for the season. We all happily played our part.
More briefings followed by some free time before the generator goes off. I went to my room early collecting clean and dry washing on the way from the drying room. Pack packed and ready to go I was in bed by 9.40 ready for lights out.
Up at 6, shower and out to make lunch. A table set with bread, meats and spreads along with salads is set up by staff early for walkers and guides to make lunch that we carry on track with us. Breakfast, quick briefing and we are off down the Arthur Valley to Milford Sound.
Rain for the first hour or so. We passed Dumpling Hut, then quick break and boat shed, and on to lunch at Giants Gate waterwall. Lying in the sun eating my lunch. A few brave souls went for a swim. I passed on this today.
Shortly after lunch we did whats called a guide pace mile. In short that is legging it as fast and safely as you can between mile markers. The entire track has a green post with the mile number on it. While this is nice for walkers, for us it means we can safely estimate how long it will take for us to get to another guide if assistance is needed, for example there may be a tricky water crossing that requires 2 guides to assist walkers across at 100 yards past the 6th mile marker, I may have just past the 5th, so the guide waiting knows that he will have assistance in about 15 minutes.
Needless to say sustaining such a pace for a mile is not easy. But we all did it, and have a better understanding of our own and each others abilities.
Sandfly point lived up to its name, another procedures briefing, followed by a boat ride to Milford Town Wharf.
A quick bus ride to Mitre Peak Lodge. A quick briefing given by lodge manager and off to our rooms for a quick shower and some freetime.
We had all shortly gathered into a huge circle of chairs as we chatted, with us all having been dry for 5 days, it had the eary feeling of an AA meeting.
One more presentation, a briefing followed by the bar opening. Then off to dinner. The food was quite brilliant.
I will cover of meals and our involvement in these in later blogs.
We had a great evening, played a game called fish bowl, a great opportunity to get to know the other guides. The last time the Milford guides will all be together for a while. We join the routeburn guides for dinner tonight. But that really will be the end of us all being together, we then start work and there will be guides I may not see again till end of season next April.
Early morning rise again, knee a bit dodgy, breakfast, some un packing of new lodge furniture and another briefing then on to the bus for our return trip to Queenstown. I put on my earphones and turned on music and just watched the beautiful landscapes passby. What a very awesome experience. The skies are clear, the mountains have snow on the peaks. Wow, just so awesome.
For me, I am up at 6.45 tomorrow for a 7.30 departure to join 3 other guides and meet of first 50 walkers all keen to experience one of the most awesome walking experiences in the world, but then I may be bias on that one.