Wilderness truly is amazing. I can't say I was in the true New Zealand wilderness but I was a good 100km from the nearest town heading back from the spectacular Milford Sound...a fjord not a Sound for the geography minded out there. I didn't have mobile phone coverage which in this day and age must qualify for wilderness.
In a mountainous area there is a tendency for your eyes to be drawn upwards to the peaks that surround you on all sides. There was still some summer snow on the tops of the mountains and the sky was a brilliant blue. But as the road wove it's way through the valleys between the heights it was a rushing mountain stream that grabbed my attention. It was light blue and a really brilliant white where the rapids jumped across and around the rocks. It was really rushing its way down the hill, and although not deep it would have done some damage if you fell out of a boat.
I had to capture it, but access points along the road were few and far between even though the rover was always in sight. Finally I found a point I thought I could get close. When I got to the banks of this beautiful river I found myself in shade and with the sun really giving the earth its best today, the contrast in the light didn't make a great photo. This would be my only chance to take these pics so I couldn't come back during the golden hour when the light was even.
I walked back to the road and along a few hundred metres. I found a small water fall that was possible to travel down with a bit of difficulty to the shore. Unfortunately it was still in shade and too low to really capture the river. As I prepared to head back up I spotted a large rock that gave a great view straight up the river from a raised position. It was perfect.
The issue was it was nearly impossible to get to without using your hands to climb along the bank and across some wide gaps between rocks. At one point the only way to continue was to put the tripod and camera in the hook of a tree, wrap my arms around the tree and swing my feet above the water to a rock on the other side.
Spider-Man's got nothing on me! I managed to grab hold of the tree trunk, swing myself along the top of the river passed the tree to the rocks on the far side, reached back and grab the camera. I then crossed between two rocks way too wide apart, placing the camera on the far rock and then clambering down one rock and pulling myself the metre and a half up the other side. After a few more efforts that would make a mountain goat proud, I got to the platform and starting to shoot.
Once I finished a new challenge presented itself. The journey back to the road couldn't be a backtrack, it was definitely a one way trip. The only way out was across a very old fallen tree across two small streams. The tree had fallen many years earlier and was covered in vegetation. The main branch I had to cross had softened significantly and basically turned into moss and leaves. How do you make 110kg lighter? The only way was to tread fast, putting my weight on the (once was) wood for as little time as possible. If the branch gave way I would be in the stream a metre below. I felt the ground beneath me give way but I was quick enough to grab the branch in front not me, tripod and camera in the other hand and pull myself through. Another 1/4 second and I was going in.
So are these mountain-goat moments worth it? Maybe, but so is patience. Proud of my efforts I walked back to the car and headed back down the road. A few hundred metres further on the road and river joined up with a nice easy set of steps from the road down to the banks. All I had to do was drove another kilometre and I could have parked and walked down to the river in comfort.
Oh well! Still a fun adventure, nothing wrong with channeling the inner Spider-Man in me