Well, there isn't an official "Hopeless Ridge" sitting high above Lake Monowai, but there's good reason that Daniel, Chris, Johanna and I gave it such a name (in fact, we called this particular section of Fiordland a lot of things like, "Helpless Ridge," "Glimmer of Hope Ridge," and various other names that capture our feelings of defeat, hope, and In your face Mother Nature! You didn't get the best of us this time!)
So, I bet you're wondering what all this drama is about?
Basically, we dealt with minor nuisances from the start. On January 1st, we drove for about four hours (with a hiking pack between my legs in the front passengers side of the car and a pack between Jo and Chris in the back) from Dunedin to the Lake Monowai carpark to camp at the head of the trail for the night. We put up tents in a light rainfall, got our first taste of sandflies (literally - Daniel swallowed one accidentally!), and experienced the most stinky longdrops in New Zealand (thankfully, my friends from Broome County Office for Aging had given me a fantastic going away present - a turtleneck to wear while running. I wore it on this trip and it was perfect for covering my nose to block the stench in the toilet!).
The sandflies at the campsite were out for blood, so we took refuge in the car until bedtime. Much to our dismay there were about 30 little buggers flying around. We got straight to work squashing them. The trick was to attack them one by one with our pointer finger because pounding them against the window with a fist was less efficient and just caused our hands to hurt.
Once the pests were dead, we played Hangman on the condensation of the car window. Everyone took a turn picking a tramping themed word. You wouldn't believe how hard it was for two Americans and one kiwi to guess the Canadian chick's word "toque"!
Here's a clip of us guessing Chris' word:
After an exhilarating round of Hangman, we turned to asking each other the trivia question on the bottom of the the bottle caps off of our Tui beer bottles. Oddly enough, two bottle caps had "ABBA" as the answer to completely different trivia questions.
And this concludes the first night.
The next day we set out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to make our way to Rodger Inlet to spend a night in the Rodger Inlet Hut. Little did we know that the 6 mile (over 6 hours) hike in would be cheesy easy compared to the days that would follow!