Wow! Look at those waterfalls, actually just waves of water running down the huge cliffs, a Valley of 1000 Waterfalls.

It had been raining for a fair proportion of the night, I wasn’t convinced that it was particularly heavy, despite the weather forecast yesterday predicting a goodly 150 mm to drop overnight. In the early morning light it just seemed like standard drizzle.

It was so light when I set off that I didn’t pop my raincoat hood up, just donned my standard beanie.

The Clinton River was majorly changed, running high and gnarly, grass well drowned at the edges. We plodded through a couple of hundred metres of near knee-deep water over that pristine track, rinsing the feet for the first time in, err, days.

Once into the avalanche zone, no big trees with dripping ferns to hide the view, the vertical walls of the valley were more apparent, the waterfalls needing more than fingers and toes to enumerate.

In the way that Milford Sound has the tendency to inspire even the most jaded traveller, the Milford Track certainly deserves its reputation as The Finest Walk In The World, particular when today all that tumbling water, each waterfall dropping hundreds of metres, enlivening the vista. If the claim for world’s finest walk is overly superlative in its description, the fall back to claim the Milford as New Zealand’s finest track certainly isn’t.

I guess there are other places to see such misty grandeur but the walking here is relatively easy, if you can get here. The track is booked within days of the opening of the bookings, months in advance, for the actual official Summer Season, we are slipping in just prior to the end of the less regulated Winter Season.

Ross, the hut warden who came in a week ago to help prepare the track and huts for the cast of thousands whose arrival is imminent, popped over this morning to advise of weather conditions. Marlene’s Creek, currently without a bridge due to winter avalanches, might be up, and may require a wait to let the level go down. Some wading would be required prior to the Hirere Shelter.

Marlene’s is the creek that an Indonesian woman, Yessica Asmin, 22, drowned in a few months ago at the beginning of the winter season. Apparently.

After a morning of trepidation the creek proved a non-issue, just skipping through. Thinking the worst was behind us we abandoned Bob to make a leisurely lunch at Bus Stop Shelter, adjacent to Marlene’s Creek. A couple of German gals and myself powered on up the track. It quickly became apparent that the following stream, Pompolona, would prove more difficult, though not so bad with the three of us to hold hands and help each other across.

As it turned out we were misinformed about the particular streams, Yessica was in fact swept away in Pompolona, or maybe we just misheard.

Bob, overtaken by the whole tribe, and now on his own, managed to slip crossing the second creek and come close to meeting a similar fate. We continued oblivious to the drama behind.

Around about 4pm, just as I was about to mount a search party in the continuing drizzle, Bob appeared to recount his lucky escape. But the fire was going, water on the boil, the hut well on its way to being as toasty as.

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