Queenstown, New Zealand - Polarsteps
Woke up with no freedom camping ticket, cha chiiiiinngggg. Cooked up some of my famous oats in the van kitchen. Fuel for another big hiking day. Got ready for the Ben lomond summit track. Got to the base of the mountain and saw the gondola's going up. I was feeling a little nervous about the length of the hike and was keen to shave off the first hour with a nice gondola ride. Ya know that didn't happen. Ben and Peter convinced me that we needed to earn every minute of our view and we started hiking up.. We completed the first part of the hike and reached the skyline cafe AKA the end of the gondola. We refilled our waters and went on our way to Ben Lomond. While hiking the trail we came across a heard of Goats/Rams of various sizes and colors! This is was exciting as wildlife thus far on the trip has been scarce. For the next hour we continue on a relatively easy hike. But then.. The trail turns quite snowy and steep. For the next few hours we slowly made our way up this steep incline. As I was pushing myself to my limits I looked up and saw Ben and Peter standing on a rocky ledge, elated, I hurried to join them and commenced my celebration as I thought this was the summit. Though I soon discovered I was a bit premature. The toughest bit was still to come. This final stretch was an almost vertical climb completely covered in ice. We slowly ascended and eventually reached the top. When we arrived at the top we were greeted by another group of young American/Canadian travelers who have been living in New Zealand as part of a mission trip. Soon after they left and us three were left along on top of the world. Soon a young German backpacker emerged from the snowy trail, joining us on the solitary peak. He was shortly followed by his 2 Swedish companions and we shared lunch. Our friendship was sealed in an act of extreme kindness when the Swedish man offered a beer to be shared between the 3 amigos. I took what was possibly the most refreshing and well deserved swig of beer in my adult life. Never again will I taste a beer that crisp and refreshing. After solidifying our bond we parted ways and began our trek down the mountain. The descent from the peak began with us jumping and sliding down a snow covered hill. I slipped and fell causing laughter to erupt from Peter's mouth. Almost immediately he ate shit.. This was the beginning of what we like to call Mt. Karma. Each and every time someone made fun of someone else the mountain sought revenge, leading to an incredibly number of wipe outs. On the way down, we were forced to slide on one foot due to the icy conditions. We then decided to veer off the path and create our own, this short cut included quite a few snow balls and quite a lot of fun. We rested at a bench conveniently located half way down the trek. We pushed onward down the mountain, taking the biking route by mistake. We made it back to the skyline cafe where Peter indulged in some sweet treats, casually choosing a creme brûlée as a post hike snack, a reward for his valor on the hike. We watched the sun set behind the mountains before completing the last hour of our journey through the woods. This last part was completed in the dark, it was quite silent due to the hanger that had gripped our friend Ben. When we finally reached the parking lot, we immediately set out on another journey, this time in search of pizza. After finding a lovely 2 for 1 special, Peter and Ben enjoyed their pizza in Jucy as I cooked up a couple veggie dogs. Some beers were consumed and returned to our free camping spot where we promptly passed out.
Highlights of the day:
- the m o u n t a i n and the hike were spectacular
- Karma mountain... Insult someone and you will slip and fall into the mud
- Sliding down the snow parts = most effective way down
-Attack of the alpine parrots.. again
- Mission friends and generous beer sharing Germans/Swedish
- Hard chill Jucy sesh
- Boys snoring ...
- Sleep ❤️
Study Abroad 2016