Deepest Darkest GeorgeVery Experienced
Submitted by Tony Sharpe
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Back country - remote
Point to Point (one way)
Native bushCoastalRiversideLakesideOpen tussock/grasslandsOpen ridges/tops
Not Suitable (Slow)
George Sound Track is subject to your usual Fiordland floods, storms, snow, earthquakes and general Mother Nature Malarky. Talk to DOC in Te Anau before embarking on your mission here.
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This is one serious mission! Getting there is almost the hardest bit. Once you have sorted that out you are in for a blast in here, but you better take your most expansive fast packing kit you can. Include a tent and sleeping bag just in case, and maybe even a mountain radio with your PLB. The first choice you made would have been whether you fly into George Sound and head east, or if you are doing an out and back via boat options up Lake Te Anau, and Lake Hankinson. Operators can help you with this. See the DOC info.
The route described is from George Sound back to Lake Hankinson. Its a doozy, a mini Dusky Track if you like. If walking it's 10 hours one day and 4 the next, so running this in a day is a challenge for the most experienced trail gurus out there. And unless you move fast enough, take sandfly repellent! DOC provide a detailed description and brochure but basically you are on rough trail the whole way. Expect frequent river crossings, mud, 3 wire bridges, tree roots, and mountainous, steep rough terrain.
From George Sound follow the route up to Lake Katherine, probably take you about an hour. You'll soon get a feel for what proper Fiordland trails are all about. The route goes round Lake Katherine - at one point you usually need to wade a bit. Use the chains provided where needed. From the lake it's more beech forest bashing until eventually you reach a steep climb up to Henry Saddle (named after famed early conservationist Richard Henry).
Henry Saddle provides the only part of this route above the bushline, and affords wonderful views. Take the time to linger and explore a bit, the tarns a bit up the south side are well worth going up to for some great photo opportunities. The tops beckon beyond, but don't be tempted unless you are planning to tent out!
Once over the saddle you'll go back into the bush. Look out for the historic mining operation. You will strike particularly boggy terrain round Deadwood Lagoon. Eventually you'll reach Lake Thompson Hut. There is a good route to the tops from the hut if you are staying overnight and have extra time - incredible views too! Out from Lake Thompson Hut the trail undulates from here around the shoreline of Lake Thompson and then down valley until you reach Lake Hankinson Hut. Here you will have to have arranged boat transport to get home - see the links for information to explore those options.
Features of interest
George Sound Hut, Henry Saddle, Lake Thompson Hut Lakes, waterfalls and Fiordland majesty.
Make Up of Run
Technical Single Track: 100%
This is a very tricky start point to get to. Probably the hardest part of the logistics here. Either fly in with a local Te Anau service, or take the out and back option via a boat service across Lake Te Anau and Lake Hankinson. Refer to the web links provided for details.
Take a map, GPS, compass, and know how to use them
Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Short-sleeved thermal top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions), Gaiters.
Lots of pristine Fiordland water to graze on
Don't go when its flooding. Don't go when its snowing. Winter would be a bad idea. All the usual Fiordland risks exist in here, take enough gear to hunker down in case the conditions require it.
Know Fiordland. Know your limits. Take the right gear and right experience level with you in here
Post run indulgence
All the Te Anau eateries and watering holes deserve your support
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See other runs nearby:
Lake Marian Meander
Whisky Trail and Routeburn
Caples Track - The Divide Version
South Mavora Lake Trail
Waiau River Loop
Henry the Hooligan!
Tour de Milford Haven
Te Anau Foreshore Trail
The Hollyford: Out and Back to Alabaster
Hollyford Road - Routeburn Loop via Deadmans and Pass Creek