Does the Dusky track is really a walk in the mud?
I've been reading a lot lately and everyone keeping on saying that is really challenging (fair enough) and a good 50 % of the track is all mud...
Did someone of this group did it?
Did you like it?
I did it 20 years ago so it's probably changed since then. We didn't have a lot of sunny days on it. I noticed the guy we were with only got mud up to his ankles, I had it mid-shin and my friend was doing face plants in the mud so I realized there was a bit of a knack to avoiding the mud. After 15 trips or so on the Northern Circuit of Stewart Island, I reckon I've learned that knack!
From the deep dark memories department. In my early 20's I had the enormous privilege to spend multiple months working in the Dusky area with the late Dr Chris Ward working as his field assistant to his geology PhD. We normally flew in by float plane (one trip we hitched a chopper ride with the great Bill Black). We worked tramping style up to six weeks at a time, moving between pre-placed food dumps at 10 day intervals.
Looking back it's hard to express how grateful I am to have spent so much time in such an extraordinary place. It was a deeply intimate experience still bright in my memory. So if you have the chance to get into Dusky ... go for it. It won't be easy but it will be rewarding if you go well prepared mentally.
On the last trip we decided to walk out instead of flying. We dropped off the tops down to Supper Cove (all those months and we'd never been there), spent a day resting and then headed up the Seaforth. We'd had a wonderful three week fine spell, so our excuse is we got a little complacent. :-) Late that day the sky opened as only it can in the Fiordland valleys. Ward's Law of Rainfall says that no matter how hard you think it's raining, it can and will pour twice as hard. The river rose madly and we got trapped on a levee unable to move up or down river, and a huge swamp between us and any chance of reaching the almost vertical valley walls. After scouting about a bit, and looking at the flood debris lodged in trees over head height, we decided on one with a couple of decent branches we could reach, grovelled up there, spread as much fly sheet as we could and spent a very memorable night watching the water level rise.
First it covered the track, then inexorably it spread from wall to wall of the valley. The rain hammered down, the river thundered. We contemplated all the things that could go wrong. Eventually it got to within about a metre of where we were perched with a fair current. Peering into the pitch black, with only feeble (pre-LED) torches we could only hope we'd picked the right tree. By morning it stopped, and the river dropped as fast as it had risen. Crawling down I recall how every muscle ached, everything not in a sealed tin was sodden. The sandflies arose in especially malevolent hordes that morning, we sploshed off in haste keen to reach civilisation again.
It's a primal place. Dusky is no ordinary tramp and demands respect. If you get a decent weather window you'll have a memorable experience.
This post has been edited by the author on 9 November 2018 at 12:33.
Only 50%? I did it in 2008 and I would say 3/4s mud, easy! The bush was mud, the tops were mud, the "miners track" from Loch Maree to Supper Cove was mud. There was some sweet boardwalk at Upper Spey hut... about 100m of it, just enough to lull you into a false sence of security, then... bam! More mud!
Dont let it put you off though, it was great! I'm heading back over there in Feb, looking forward to it!
Would you walk this track only with a good pair of trekking sandals?
At the end of the day your feet will going to get wet and muddy anyway....although sturdy boots protect better your feet...
What will you do ?