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Tuesday 18 February 2003


Rees-Dart Track (Day 3)



Lake Unknown Cascade

In the morning, the weather was partly cloudy, but not raining anymore. My clothes from yesterday were still wet, so I put on my second set. My boots were still soaked through.

The walk went through lush beech rainforest following the Dart River downstream. The Dart River was by now a huge very fast flowing turbulent river. The sun broke through the clouds and hit the mountains on the opposite side of the river, with the valley in shadow - it was very pretty. I was also quite cold, since I was walking in the shadow too. The river was an opaque grey, from the glacial “flour” which lined the banks with an ultra-fine grey sediment. There were occasional large boulders forming islands in the river, with plants growing on them.

I’d left at 7:30, since I got woken at 6:00, and by 10:00 the jetboats arrived. They were a most unwelcome part of the hike. I thought there would be only one or maybe two, but unfortunately the droning and roaring of their engines could be heard for most of the remaining 2 hours of the hike, since one went past every 20 minutes on average, and could be heard from a long way off. Toward the end of the hike, the Dart became a wide plaited series of channels on a rocky floodplain. There were places where you could look up at the mountainside and see 20+ waterfalls on the one mountain (Probably influenced by the rain) – it was amazing. Near Chinamans Bluff (the end), There was an enormous waterfall from “Lake Unknown” – 720m high – awesome.

I reached the end of the track, and sat down to wait for the bus – I was a little worried, since my ticket was for tomorrow, and there were about 15 others who didn’t have tickets also coming out. No sooner than I sat down, I got attacked by sandflys, then it started raining, which at least got rid of the sandflys, but made it very miserable, and very cold for us waiting at the end of the track. The bus arrived and I was able to get on since I had a ticket. The drive was bumpy, and too fast, but after stopping at Glenorchy, we made it back to Queenstown.

It was still raining so I walked around checking motels for vacancies – only very expensive rooms were available, so I set up my tent at the motor camp in light rain. I went and booked the Kiwi Experience Bottom Bus, then I had dinner at a Thai restaurant and went to see the movie “I Spy” – it was funny, but nothing special.