After returning from the Dusky Track, I wrote a letter to my friends and family.  This is what I wrote them.  It gives you a good overview of the track in less than 1000 words and a dozen pictures.  If you would like to read more on the Dusky, see the Epic Tracks link at the bottom.

The Dusky Track

Ah yes, the Dusky Track.  Eight to ten days through the heart of Fiordlands in New Zealand.  One of my favorite, if not the favorite place, in the entire world.  It's a rugged wilderness that has steep, glacial cut valleys that receive 8 meters (320 inches) of rain a year where it rains 270 days a year.  The entire landscape has been shaped by glaciers and abundant amounts of water.  It's a very rough track that frequently turns into a morass and is infamous for its mud.  But, it's part of the appeal of it all.  So I was off by myself for nine days in the wilds of Fiordlands.
After the track, I sent out a letter to my family telling them that I was back from the track.  My brother Eric wrote me and said:
"Photos please. Oh life is so hard for you."
I wrote back:
This picture was taken by accident as I don't normally take pictures of my privates (well, at least not ones I show in public). So take a look at that mudpit behind me and look at the slop on my thighs and take a wild guess how deep I went in. So yeah, life is hard for me.
This mudpit is very, very typical of the area.  You'll easily pass through a dozen (and sometimes several dozen) a day.  No big deal.  If you avoid the mud and go around it, it damages the track and just makes the mudpit wider.  So you do the right thing and go through them and say, "Eh, I've done worse!"
Once you get out of it, you're pretty encrusted.  I've gone through mud up to my waist and in one case fell into soupy mud up to my chest.  When I pulled myself out, my jacket was shiny black on the outside.  Shiny black on the inside too.  I have to say that particular experience was one that I didn't particularily enjoy, but all in all, it's worth it.

Sometimes you get to a section of the trail and say, "This could be trouble!", but you go through it anyways.  This time the track took me nine days to complete.  It rained the first seven days and did so for most of the day and in some cases, the entire day.  I would usually walk 5-8 hours a day, so a day of six hours of rain, it does get to be a bit much.  The last two days of the track were sunny and pleasant but areas pictured above are almost always going to be a mess as they never have a chance to dry out.  Why would one want to do such a track? You'll see.  It's really not hard to understand.
Understand now?  That much rain makes for one of the most amazing, beautiful landscapes on the planet.  This particular day, I had been tramping in the rain for four hours and I couldn't have been happier.  If one tramped the track and had eight days of pleasant and sunny weather, you would have been cheated.  In order to experience Fiordlands, you need to have some rain. 
The forests are incedible on a sunny day, but in the rain, the forest floor is flooded, water is dripping everywhere, and the greens are soooooooo vivid.  When you have a professional photographer taking photos of people in the sun, they shield them from the direct sun.  It's the same with the rainforest.  In the sun, the greens are slightly washed out.  When the clouds are out the greens are so unbelievably vivid.  Even more so in the rain.
Every day you will cross dozens of streams and creeks.  Some large, some small, but at the end of a day I won't remember how many crossings of a stream of this size.  As mentioned earlier, the entire Fiordlands landscape is shaped by water.  Two years ago I was on the track with a couple, Will and Cheri.  Those two might recognize this stream in particular, remember it folks?
The track goes from an area near Lake Roe and crosses the Pleasant Ranges.  I hear they are very nice when the weather is 'pleasant', but it wasn't that way when I was there.  It was alternating between rain, hail, snow, and sun.  Sun being very, very much in the minority, but very pleasant for the five minutes it was out that day.  The Pleasant Ranges are loaded with tarns (small mountain lakes).  The track threads through the tarns and peaks and finally comes to a 1000 meter (3300 foot) descent where one is often climbing down a tangle of tree roots on a seventy five degree slope.  As one approaches the end of the Pleasants, you can glimpse down the valley and see Dusky Sound, the track's namesake.  This picture was taken just before the big descent and you can see the sound off in the distance.  From there, Dusky Sound has an unearthly, ethereal look.
When I think of Fiordlands, I imagine that this is the effect that medieval cathedral builders were trying to make upon people.  If this isn't a natural cathedral, I don't know what would be.
One really nice area is Mt. Memphis.  It's a very steep climb of 900 meters from the valley to Centre Pass and then another 400 meters (1400 feet) further to Mt. Memphis, but it's well worth the climb.  This is one of the mountain lakes...what where they called?  Yep, tarns.  This tarn was crystal-clear and sharply dropped off at the edge of the water.  A minute later I was kneeling at the edge and slurping up water right from the tarn.  It's nice that in Fiordlands, you can drink water from anywhere.  It looks really nice for swimming but it bitterly cold...I think I'll just drink from it and leave the cold water to the penguins (which incidentally I saw a few months earlier in Fiordlands).  Oh, why not, here is one of them.
A Fiordlands Crested Penguin taken in Martins Bay on the Hollyford Track in November.  Cute little things, aren't they?
From the top of Mt. Memphis I took this 360 degree panorama.  This picture is quite wide, so scroll to the right to see it all.  I was on top of the world seeing to the edge of that world.  Words cannot describe it and pictures can't do much better.
So that's a little bit from the Dusky Track.  Pretty cool, huh?  So yeah, it's a tough track and the conditions can be pretty bad but is it worth it?  Oh, I guess so.....

P.S.  These picture were taken from travelogues of my three times on the Dusky.  See Epic Tracks for more

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