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travelling the seven parts of the world
Feb 18th, 2008
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The walk up to Gertrude Saddle was one of the most rewarding one day walks I've ever had. It starts off from the Milford Road and ends in a saddle between two mountains from which you can see Milford Sound and the valley before it.



The walk up is a bit deceiving, as everything is in the mountains. At first it looks like you're gonna have to go straight up a cliff wall, but then the walk turns. Then just as you think you have gotten to the top, you realize that there's just a bit more to go... and so on several times.

First the walk goes through some alpine meadows that require basic pathfinding skills, and then goes straight up to reach a small river that flows from the top. Since this is not a part of some major track, the path up is very narrow and sometimes difficult to find, which just adds to the challenge and fun of the walk. Then you have to go up to an alpine lake from which the river starts. From there on it is a short walk up some sliprock to the top of Gertrude Saddle. The whole walk took us 5 hours, but it is marked as a 4 hour track. We spent the extra hour on top of the saddle resting, eating and enjoying the view.



At the top we met a few guys who were doing a 5 day trip across the mountains, crossing 2 valleys. Apparently there is a cave like structure further up the mountain where they can pass the night without a tent or anything like that, and after that, there is a small hut which has them covered.

They also told us that its possible to do some heli-hiking trips here, where a helicopter flies you into a valley, and then you spend 2-3 days walking back out to civilization. I'd definitely like to try something like that in the future.



There are some great views from the top of the Gertrude Saddle, so we spent some time on top just resting and enjoying the beautiful day.



The day was very warm, so a lot of the ice that's on top of these mountains was melting. You could hear ice cracking and echoing throughout the valley. We thought we might see an avalanche, but alas, didn't have the patience to wait for it.





On our way down the mountain we enjoyed a few refreshing splashes in the river that was flowing out of the lake on top. Some of the other guys walking up the mountain actually swam in the lake on top, but we didn't dare to. The water was extremely cold, about as cold as it gets before it freezes, and dipping our feet in was cold enough already.



It was a great way to spend our last on-the-mountain day in New Zealand, for this trip at least. The weather was beautiful, there were no flies, the views were grand, and the climb was fantastic.


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