TESTED IN FIORDLAND
Lily Hillary

TESTED IN FIORDLAND

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With an average of more than 200 days of constant rainfall per year, Fiordland is one of the wettest places on earth. So naturally, we thought it would be the best place to put the new Edmund Hillary Vinson jacket to the test – and that’s all the excuse we need to head out on a lengthy adventure.

On December 3 2020, I set out with my brother, Alexander Hillary, Phoebe Anderson and Myles Anderson to immerse ourselves in the bush for seven days. The Dusky Track is notorious for being the muddiest, wettest and probably one of the most miserable tracks in New Zealand, while also holding the title of the most remote Department of Conservation track in New Zealand. Over seven days, 110km, one narrowly missed shark attack, six huts, 21 wire-bridges, and one improvised raft for a sprint-swim across a 50m fast-flowing river later, we completed arguably the toughest hiking challenges in New Zealand.

Each day was like a new day on a different planet. From the ominous goblin forest, dense, dark and dangerous, riddled with moss to the jagged rocky peaks jutting out of clouds, it was like looking into Tolkien’s own mind at a land sculpted perfectly for a world of dragons, goblin and elves. I felt rather inadequate walking around with my rounded mundane ears. 

 

All our gear, whether it was boots, socks, wet-weather gear (in particular), packs, or even sleeping bags was put to the test, and anything that was still in one piece by the end (or even two) should receive a 5-star review.

I am proud to report that the Vinson was one of these lucky few. It’s no easy task being a rain jacket in one of the dampest places in the world, being used constantly for seven days straight, including swimming through rivers and wading through the ocean, not to mention being occasionally submerged in a muddy bog (that I’m not 100% sure was only mud). Even though it was designed to be a heavy showerproof jacket rather than for extreme adventures it did us well on this trip.  In fact, I would go as far as saying that it was in better shape than the rest of us by the end – it certainly smelt better. 

 

While being soaked through to your bones, having moments of relief when early on-set hypothermia sets in (if only for the feeling of sudden warmth), and more than a few hairy situations (to say the least) may not sound like the average person’s idea of fun, it was without a doubt one of the most exhilarating, delightful and amusing experiences of my life. The Dusky will forever hold a piece of my heart, my dignity, and most of my sanity. But I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

 

Written by Lily Hillary

Photography by Alexander Hillary

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