Hiking around Mt. Cook

Trip Start Mar 19, 2010
Trip End May 23, 2010

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Today I took a shuttle to see Mt. Cook, the highest mountain in southern Australasia. This time before booking the shuttle with Magic, I checked the weather at the hostel, which was predicted to be beautiful again! The bus picked us up at 7:45 and it took about an hour and a half to get there including taking some photo stops which were great with clear skies. Mt Cook actually has another name, Aoraki, which in Maori means 'Cloud Piercer.' But it wasn't piercing any clouds today!
    We got dropped off at a fancy hotel that costs a couple hundred dollars per night and I used their bathroom which was interesting...there were no sinks, it was just a faucet over a granite slab tipped back toward a drain...I should have taken a picture. Buy anyway, I headed out and started my walk to the Hooker Valley. This was another AMAZING walk. The whole way there I was surrounded by views of mountains and glaciers and valleys and moraines and glacial lakes...oh my! And it was definitely a day where you needed sunglasses and sunscreen (which luckily I had on me!). The path itself was cool too, being either all stones or a boardwalk through the grasses. I have to say I was glad I had my hiking boots on because the stones are pretty 'shifty' and some parts are steep and some are wet...so I recommend boots for this walk.
    Early on in the walk I passed the Alpine Memorial, a statue honoring those who died trying to climb Aoraki...it was kind of sad since there were quite a few.
    I was so amazed when I reached the first lookout over Mueller Glacier. You could see the toe and the lake from its melting, but also the lateral moraines which were very conspicuous...more so than at Franz Josef. The lake water was also a cloudy color caused by rock flour (really finely ground rock particles suspended in the water.) Such an amazing sight! It was incomprehensible that I was hiking in just a long sleeved shirt admiring glaciers the whole way :)
    There were two bridges that I got to cross over too, swing bridges that crossed over the glacial rivers. They kind of bounced when you walked over them. And I also got to walk along one of those moraines :)
    For most of the journey you can see Mt. Cook ahead of you - such an amazing view! So I now have entirely too many pictures of this mountain, lol. It took about 2 hours to reach the far end of the Hooker Glacier lake which had a thin layer of ice on top and little mini icebergs down by the toe! It's so cool that I've been able to see so many glaciers on this trip! It was here by the lake that I sat and ate my lunch. I spent about 1/2 an hour just relaxing in the sunshine here - it's so nice when I get a chance to just slow down and enjoy what's around me instead of rushing or just hurrying to get a picture. Such a beautiful setting...unbelievable!
    So after my break, I headed back the same way I came, but it felt much quicker. The sun had now shifted across the sky so different parts of the valley were illuminated. When I came to the trail intersection, I turned to go up to Kea Point. It was only about a 45 minute extra bit that provided a great view of Mt. Cook and the lateral moraines of Mueller Glacier. I was getting tired by now, and maybe a little dehydrated. I was back at the hotel by 3 p.m. and had time to go see the visitor center where I read a booklet containing records of all the people who had died climbing Mt. cook in the past decade or so. It was so sad...people falling hundreds of feet over cliffs and glaciers and avalanches to their deaths. Makes me wonder why people would still want to attempt it...
    Back at the hostel, I wrote a bit and then got the shuttle back to Lake Tekapo at 4 p.m. arriving back by 5:30 ish. I had to charge my phone (again!) and do laundry, and then ate my leftovers while watching the first bit of TV since I've been here...Malcolm in the Middle was on, lol. Now it's time for bed after a wonderful, amazing day!!

    Lyrics of the day: "There ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough..." - Marvin Gaye
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