Hike To The Heavens
Trip Start Jan 15, 2011
38Trip End Mar 19, 2011
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Where I stayed
White Horse Hill Campground
New Zealand seems to always have a sweet smell in the air, but up by Mt. Cook that scent came to full blossom upon the wind
Pictures were snapping like crazy. We knew we couldn’t capture the full splendor of the view, but we had to try. In one direction we’d turn, gasp, then take a photo. Then we’d turn 180 degrees, gasp, and take another photo. It was so impressive and gorgeous we were nearly crying at the beauty surrounding us. I know I’m gushing, but if there were ever a place to gush about, this would be it.
The weather was absolutely perfect. People on the trail were commenting as they passed by how sublime the day was; how incredible the view. You could tell each person out there was thrilled to be right where they were. As I rounded a bend I heard the crash of water rushing and caught a glimpse of the first of two suspension bridges we were to cross. Yet again, we turned to each other with pure joy glowing upon our faces. Suspension bridges!! It doesn’t get better than that!
The water was grey and milky, like liquid clay. It raced below us with a roar and the bridge swayed and bounced slightly beneath our feet. These bridges were no small affair. You could see how expertly they’d been erected, with thick wire and massive bolts anchoring us to the enormous boulders at both ends
Further in we heard a crack of thunder. Huh? But the sky was clear! Katie swiftly gripped my arm and pointed upward. An avalanche poured down the side of a mountain right before our eyes. Snow showered down upon the crags below and ripped an angry rumble through the valley. The sound did indeed mimic perfectly the intensity of a thunder storm. Katie was quick enough to snap a picture of the event before it was all over. Just as suddenly, the calm of a moment before returned. We couldn’t believe our luck. To have seen something like that with our naked eyes! I never would’ve guessed it to be possible.
After crossing our second suspension bridge, I struck up a conversation with a nice elderly Kiwi woman from Dunedin. We chatted about what a pristine day we were having and she told us about the best place to park when we got to Dunedin. How kind!
It was here that the trail turned into a boardwalk weaving through tall grasses. The sun was at its brightest and we could finally see Mount Cook standing tall at the center of the range. Our glimpse of it was fleeting, as the clouds quickly drifted over it once more, but we were grateful to have seen the peak for at least a brief moment
Once we passed over the small slope ahead we were finally greeted to the sight of a milky lake with small icebergs floating upon it. At the end of the water you could see the gravel-ridden cliffs of Hooker Glacier. We ate lunch on the edge of the lake. Bumper Bars were the only item on the menu. These delectable treats had become our new favorite hiking meal. We’d discovered them in a convenience store in Christchurch, and as the label says, they are "full of good stuff." Grains, apricots, and chocolate, to be precise. Yum!
After lunch I busied myself with trying to skip a rock out to an iceberg. I got very close but couldn’t quite hit it. Then Katie gave me a rock she’d been holding – BAM! Nailed it. She really knows how to pick 'em. ;)
We thought we were done with all our crazy photo taking from the hike in, but on the hike back out we were just as picture happy. We snapped a sizable amount by the time we made it back to our campsite, where we had to quickly switch gears and head to the Hermitage Hotel for our boat ride out to the Tasman Glacier.
UPDATE! Alice and Katie are now embarking on a Round the World trip!
Visit aliceintraveland.com to follow along on their continuing