On our second day on the Milford Track, we woke to the promise of sunshine at Clinton Hut. We packed our things to head to Mintaro Hut. It was still dry out. Perhaps the threat of rain was simply just a threat.
We were wrong, however. We’d be spending this day hiking in the steady rain, accosted by sandflies. Like our previous day, this trip follows the Clinton River quite closely.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this was my hardest day on the trail. Frustrated, wet and tired, my pack weighed a thousand pounds. I regretted bringing an extra lens. I was not a happy camper.
TThe trail to Mintaro Hut was a slow and steady climb through the Clinton Valley. Water poured off the cliffs around us. There were waterfalls everywhere, reminding me of rainy days in Norway.
I actually don’t remember much of this day, other than it was wet. I mostly focused on putting one foot in front of the other for 12.8 miles and 1015 feet of elevation gain.
We took every detour available to look at small lakes—ponds, really—and waterfalls. Take the detour to Hidden Lake. This trail pops you back on the Milford Track. Don’t miss getting close to this lake.
Don’t stop for too long at the Prairie Shelter. The sand flies are deterred by nothing, other than some bulletproof DEET. They are even out in about in the rain, and they are tiny.
After the Prairie Shelter, the Milford Track climbs away from the Clinton River. The terrain grows a little rougher, passing over rock piles. The number of stream crossings increase as well, but they are all passable by bridge.
The trail passes in and out of the trees. I felt like it dragged on and on. Finally, we encountered the sign for Mintaro Hut! Only a few minutes off the trail to go.
All you need to know about Mintaro Hut
Mintaro Hut is the only shelter on the Milford Track where the sleeping area is attached to the common area. The upstairs sleeping area has bunks and mattresses on the floor. The downstairs rooms have only bunks. It gets really warm and musty up top, especially with wet gear. Opening windows up to let air in is a must.
The hut also has a tiny sunroom that’s great for reading, but the roof is a little leaky.
If it’s wet out, get to Mintaro Hut sooner than later. Drying racks live next to the fire. Limited space exists. The earlier you arrive, the better the spot you get for drying out all your wet gear.
What’s next on the Milford Track?
Weather delayed us for day at Mintaro Hut. Our hut ranger woke up early to check the forecast. We didn’t receive one until around 8am, but by that time we knew it was probably a no go. Heavy rains and flooding lay ahead on the track. Our third day ended up being a forced rest day. We played cards and read for hours. It was not ideal for our other vacation plans, but it was also quite lovely to have nothing to do.
Want all the details to backpacking the Milford Track? Stay tuned.