TITS on the Track (Milford)

It’s almost embarrassing, that the stand-out, remarkable memory of hiking one of the world’s most famous and spectacularly scenic hiking tracks is, collectively, strapping tape, shoelaces and a rubber band.

That’s not to say it’s my favourite moment, rather the one that instantly flicks to mind when I’m asked to recount the four day trek.

Again the TITS  (acronym for Ten In Tasmania- see previous post) ventured out of their inner-city coffee shops and into the wild.

This time on our third tramping adventure, with two less women in boots, just eight  of us ventured and so were branded, “Small TITS”.

NB : On our second hike two years ago, twelve ventured and thus were called More TITS (2 more than original 10 TITS)

To be honest girls this year’s title was probably more appropriate for some of us.

Anyway I digress!

The Milford Track  is 55 kilometers of stunningly picturesque rainforest, mountains, waterfalls and natural beauty. 

The route was pioneered in 1888 by Quintin Mackinnon, (probably like us because he wanted a break from his family) and today over 14000 people every year make the pilgrimage.

It’s a one-direction trek from Glade Wharf to the aptly-named Sandfly Point, where a boat trip to the stunning Milford Sound completes the journey. And if you are lucky like us you’ll see seals, dolphins and penguins. (not on the hike, at the Sound)

After completing Cradle Mountain in Tasmania and The Grand Traverse in New Zealand, I can also advise it is a fairly moderate walk, which is probably why it has so much world-wide appeal and recognition.

You don’t have to be super-hikers or super-fit to tackle it.

But you do need to pack strapping tape, an extra shoelace and some rubber bands.

On the only day of physical challenge, we hiked uphill to summit namesake Mackinnon Pass, in a series of eleven (there were so many more than that) zig zagging tracks.

It rained incessantly, it was glove-required cold, and the the wind was whipping.

Of course, that was also the day when my boot blew up!

Not at the top, not half way up, but just before the ascent began.

The sole fell away from the instep to the toe, flapping about like a teenage girl getting ready for a Justin Beiber concert.

So from the foot of the uphill through way more than eleven zig-zags to the peak, for approximately two hours, I had to walk like I was a thunderbird.

That is, lift my legs up until my knees hit my chest to avoid tripping, while my arms had to shrug like wings to prevent colliding with high-lifting knees.

At the top in driving rain, a guide, who thankfully carried strapping tape, secured my sole, while an independent trekker found an old shoelace in his backpack and yet another helpful hiker offered the rubber band which was keeping his cheese and biscuits secured in plastic.

The result…

a repair job that enabled me to get down the mountain and back to the fireplace, warm shower, cooked dinner, super-glue and the rest of the TITS at my lodge.

Now it’s not really the hiking war-story that will go down in history, but probably for the small TITS on Milford, the only one, as this tramp, unlike the others was almost flawless.

There were no dead mice in boots, no slipping in creeks, no falling in mud, no outrageous dog charades or big nights on red wine….just our leader nearly knocking herself out by walking into a branch, but there’s always one of those tales to tell.

For us it was just another great time with the girls.

The beauty of Milford is well documented, its pristineness well-preserved and its two million year glacial history a marvel.

It’s a chance to take a break, take in mesmerising natural charm and take off with wonderful women where friendship not motherhood or spousal-hood comes first.

You can’t contact the family for 4 days and more importantly, if they can’t find their school shirt or their work socks, they can’t contact you. (Of course there are measures for emergencies.)

Some might think Bali and pedicures or Hong Kong and shopping might be better matches than New Zealand and hiking.

But you won’t get to sleep in dorms or carry backpacks like you did at highschool.

Nor gaze at snowcapped mountains and ridiculously wondrous waterfalls, clamber over rocks, climb up hills or drink from freshwater creeks as you stomp along watching trout swim by.

Besides now that I’ve survived the strapping tape, shoelace and rubber band disaster, I can legitimately say my toes need attention and I’ll have to go shopping for new boots, in readiness for the next TITS adventure.

Maybe in Bali or Hong Kong.

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