Thursday, March 28, 2019

Photo Friday: Rees-Dart Track Part II

My husband and I and our 21-year-old son are spending several months traveling and tramping in New Zealand. We arrived on the South Island Dec. 28, 2018, and spent January hiking like crazy with Dave’s brother and his wife, before sending them home and settling into a home base in Christchurch, allowing me a bit more time between adventures to get some blogging and writing done! I’m posting photo reports on our major tramping trips. This is the second half of the Rees-Dart loop. For the first part, go here.

Rees-Dart Track, Days 3-5

We left you last week with a late-afternoon arrival at the Dart Hut. It is a fairly new and comfortable hut, which was nice, because we were to spend two nights there (as most trampers do). The purpose: an all-day side-trip to Cascade Saddle, with views of the Dart Glacier, and over the mountain range to Mt. Aspiring and surrounding peaks.

Knowing the hike would be long and hard, the senior members of our party got up at an ungodly hour in order to start hiking as soon as it was light (this being less than a month past mid-summer, light came very early indeed). Eldest Son decided to sleep an extra hour, fix his own breakfast, and catch up later.
Walking up the Dart River as the sun touches the high peaks.
My sister-in-law turned back when she’d gotten a good view and the track had deteriorated. The other three of us pushed on, the stunning views compensating for stretches of boulder fields or loose scree (glacial moraines).
My husband and his brother crossing one of the very few flat stretches of trail.
After a couple of hours walking up the valley, we approached the glacier, and saw the headwall we had to climb.
The saddle is just beyond the dip in the upper right of the photo. 
Even before we reached this point, Eldest Son caught up and zipped past us, having started two hours after we did.
Happily, there were lots of good excuses to stop as we climbed, with the views improving with every step.
The best views of the Dart Glacier were from below the summit, another excuse to stop.
The Dart Glacier. The lower part is covered in dirt.
After an eternity of climbing we can see the summit. How do we know it’s the top? Because Eldest Son is up there reading, of course!
Mt. Aspiring is leaning into the photo on the far left.
Of course, the hike down was just as long as the hike up, and the extremely steep descent wasn’t much fun! But we made it back in time for dinner, which is all that mattered.
Dart Glacier and alpine daisies
This is getting very long, but stick with me—Cascade Saddle was the high point of the trip, figuratively as well as literally. Our fourth day was overcast, and the hike down the valley felt a little dull by comparison with the previous day.
Dull is a matter of perspective. Still plenty of scenery!
We were glad the overcast wasn’t producing rain. Heavy rains could change little creek crossings into impassible barriers.
My crossing was less agile, but I don’t think I fell in that one.
The final hut was much less nice than the others, but the view from the windows was still fantastic.

The final day included a fun climb to bypass the lake formed in 2014 when a huge landslide blocked the river. Ghost trees in the lake slowed our photographers.
The lake is doomed to a short life—it is filling rapidly with glacial sediment, and the river is cutting through the damming slide to create a drain.

   The hike went on longer than we wanted, but we knew the end was approaching as the valey opened up and we got new views of new peaks.
Dart River
 One final meadow, a turn of the river, and we found the car park! Plenty of time for a bath in the river (yes, in that glacial run-off!) before the last members of the party made it out.

To our relief, there had been no rain, and the half-dozen or more creeks we had to cross to retrieve both cars and return to the pavement hadn’t risen. We didn’t need our emergency food, but enjoyed the snacks we’d left ourselves. 

And what hiking trip would be complete without the feast on returning to town?

 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2018 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.


  1. Hi Rebecca - oh the youth of energy ... probably longer legs and having the ability to think ahead and carry a book ... but wonderful photos - I'd have not made it ... but gorgeous scenery - cheers Hilary

    1. Ha! My legs are longer than his! He does it all on youthful vigor, and a lack of pain in the knees. He bounds along like a young mountain goat while I step gingerly from rock to rock!

  2. Sigh. Gorgeous. That pic with the alpine daisies in the foreground is spectacular!

    1. Thanks! I’m rather fond of that one myself. It didn’t come out perfectly, but it did work. Which is nice, given how I crawled around on the ground to get it!

  3. Awesome pictures. Although, given that I'm tired of winter, I'd photoshop all the snow out. LOL

    1. LOL! Glaciers don’t make me think of winter :).

      Of course, we’ve been dodging winter. It’s getting on into fall here, and we are heading north (towards the tropics) starting in a few days. When fall catches up to us there, we fly back to the northern hemisphere :)

  4. Gorgeous photos. It's always been on my bucket list, and now I have a dear friend there. I hope I get the chance to go.

    1. You should! It’s well worthwhile, but bring your hiking boots—you miss the best of it if you don’t get out there.


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