Day 9. Beautiful Sites on a warm day
Igor and I hadn’t done much communicating from the night before. We talked about planning out what to do and just never did. Him wanting a picnic table and me not caring about it lead to a break in communication. We didn’t talk all morning so I gathered my gear to head out and do a day hike alone. Told him I was heading towards the DOC (Dept of Conservation) to get maps and I would go on a hike and be back later. (Childish thing to do as I see now). So the day was for the most part solo.
I walked down the huge hill through many people using my gps to find the place. I think I walked in a question mark shape and found it. The DOC controls all the huts / tramps / single day walks / anything outdoors wilderness here in NZ. They also have manyyy maps for things to do. I pay $5 for a day walking map and ask many questions about multi-day hikes and where and how much. This was a huge picture of a map they had on the wall with numbers that correlate to single day hikes / multi day hikes / campgrounds etc. I asked what the green check marks are for, they allow you to ‘freedom camp’ anywhere along that route 50meters from the road or trail. You can see if you zoom in on the picture below the right edge of the lake road. I eventually come upon a 2 day tramp I would like to take soon. It’s called the McIntosh Loop. (A bright pink 6) just to the top right of the lake. We are in Queenstown now, I figure Ill freedom camp all the way to the trail and take that one. Two of the huts on the trail are first come first serve, the other one I had to pay $5 for to stay in the hut. She gave me a small waterproof voucher to show the person there. Google the McIntosh loop to see pics if you want to.
I read all the day hikes and hikes close. I come across one that says its 2-3 hours with some amazing views. There are a handful to do so I chose the best one out of the few. It’s been sprinkling on and off all day as I heard one of the DOC people working that yesterday was probably going to be the best day we will have till Saturday. Going to be a bit of rain. It’s super sunny as I leave the DOC so I put the solar panel on my back. (I would say mine, but Igor got it and allows me to carry it. He is also going to leave it with me after he leaves. Thanks man). I walk a short distance and the clouds roll in really fast. It’s been like 30 minutes and I have to put it away again. Set down my pack. Collapse it back up and put it away again. Sigh. I walk up and across a few roads which seem to all be over maximum incline on any treadmill. Mind you I hadn’t even got to the ‘walking’ path yet. It takes about an hour to hour and a half just to get to the top of this hill to start on the path.
This is the map I see when I get to the path. Ill reference from it as I hike up. Mind you.. this says ‘hill’ and ‘walking’ yet it seems semi strenuous to me. I come across people coming down the hill and say a cheerful hello to each of them. I swore one of them was Jennifer Lawrence (spelling?). I almost said something, didn’t. Yayyy confidence. Many Chinese and Japanese people walking. A handful seem like they were just doing it for some light cardio. I see the cardio people and look at the size of their calf’s! Geeze. It does take about 2 hours to get closer to the top. I took a few pictures on the way up:
I think how awesome it is to look back on the city and see how small its getting. Up up up up, even though my backpack doesn’t have my tent or sleeping back or a handful of things I can feel the weight getting heavier. I get to the peak of what the sign says to a sculpture called, ‘The Basket of Dreams’.
A pretty cool sculpture that you can read about in the sign picture are the entrance of the trail. I think these views are amazing! I look left and see a neat little bench.
A common phrase that I hear often, none the less a good message. I look behind me and the ‘hill’ goes up a quite a bit further. I can see a trail up and a few people going up and coming down. I run into a guy named Matt taking a breather sitting down. His face is red and he looks exhausted. (I’m sure mine looked the same). He was saying he was heading up, but this NZ trip we a spur of the moment type thing and didn’t have time to train or anything. I kind of know the feeling. We say our farewells and I continue to use my trekking poles to help my ascent using more arms than legs is always a good idea. About 20 minutes later I reach the top. Woooooooooowww. First of all its such an AMAZING view of all the mountains around and the tiny city below. Second of all, its SOOO windy!! First time in a long time that I have almost just leaned into the wind and had it support me. Trying to take pictures and panorama photos I had to grip my phone tight so it didn’t waiver. (Wobble?)
Pretty amazing isnt it!?? You can see the trail down below in the center of the picture and the very tiny town to the center right. Look who comes up! Good ole Matt! We start talking about plans and the best parts of our visit. He said he has some friends in another town and they have booked a beach resort for the next day. Extremely jealous! I talk to him about my Hope Hike and give him a card. He would follow me and we bid each other farewell. Again.
I turn around to look out the other side of the hill and i see:
I mean you only ever see this kind of thing in movies or postcards….its so incredible. Also that you don’t see houses or people or villages or any kind of human structure. I didnt take the main road but wanted to go further as I saw another hill a little ways away. I guess I walked around a sign that said no passing this point or something. Anyway, I walked a ways up and down hills and came upon some sheep. They just seemed to stare at me as I tried to walk as far away from them as I could. I was looking for horns on any of their heads. Ive seen way too many videos of people getting close and getting an angry goat or sheep or whatever, chasing them down and ramming them. Lol. I know better.
I come across a small sign that is facing to the other way so I cant read it upon approaching. I look back and see a sign that says ‘ no walking past this point’. Odd. That’s where I came from. Another small sign in front of that says “no trespassing”. I reluctantly turn around, not making it to the hill I set out to see. This hill in the distance:
Looks really inviting doesn’t it? Anyway I walk back a little ways and am getting kind of hungry. Just down to the left of the picture above is when I plop down and open up the solar panel again and start to eat some beef jerky and granola bars. I just sit on a rock and stare at the mountains. Utterly at peace. Filled from bottom to top with satisfaction. The soul craves this type of environment. If you haven’t just gone into the woods or to the top of a mountain (hill) or to a secluded beach. I would HIGHLY recommend it. The raw earth seems to wipe away any fear or stress in your life and if you don’t already, you will start to appreciate how small you really are and how great your life really is.
I decide I want to try and take some kind of Bear Grylls selfie, man on the mountain kind of picture. Lol. I left my tiny tripod in my tent though. Ill have to get the phone up against a rock and see what the maximum timer mode is. The camera + app has always been trusty as it has some cool features and a 30 second timer. I walk to the other side of a small valley wondering if I can make it back in 30 seconds. It takes quite a while to zoom in and setup the phone to where I can see where Ill be standing. I gently set the phone done against a rock..hit the button and runnnn down this hill and up the other side still counting. 15 one thousand, 16 one thousand, 17 one thousand. I grab my poles quickly and wait…… Should be done? I head back over to the other side and see my phone face down. Ugh..there was barely any wind on the back side of the hill but I guess it blew over. I checked the photos. Heyyyyy I got it! First try too!
Follow the rock line to the top. I’m pretty small! (Sadly). Impressive though isn’t it!? Man mode activated. Hahaha
After a successful photo shoot its about 4pm and I should start heading back. I pick up the solar panel and put food stuff away. A few gulps of water and i Head back. My feet are actually doing a lot better. Either its the mole skin of that single nice pair of trekking socks. My right knee has been hurting going down hills so I use my poles with each step to support most of my weight. I never believed people when they said going down hill was harder on your muscles than up hill. Now I know better. Going up is short bursts of muscle power, going down is a constant strain and stress on the fronts of your legs and knees.
As I’m heading down I see a solo girl backpacker going to the same lookout I was. I saw a couple earlier trying to take a selfie so I assume she would want a picture with that backdrop as well.
Jacinta is her name. We agreed to take each other’s photos. This was mine:
We chatted a bit and decided to walk back down the hill together. She’s from Australia’s. Loves numbers and dates. They seem to stick in her mind. Like you could tell her once your birthday and she would remember it forever. Totally opposite of me. She was taking a few weeks vacation from her accounting job she has almost been at for 2 years. She gets itchy feet and always feels the need to move again. Huge Lord of the rings fan. She bought an expensive actual lord of the rings ring. Lol. She rented a van and was leaving the next day to Te Anau then heading south. Opposite of our paths. Cool girl, loves to step out of her comfort zone. If you fear it, then you need to do it. Her next place she wants to live is Toronto, Canada. Being from Australia she loves winter too. People who know me, know I’m not a fan of cold …at all. Lol sadly I never got a classic photo with her, but we are friends on Instagram now. (I’m sure there will be a few people creepin on her IG too. Lol)
We got to the bottom much faster as distractions help time go by. Gave her my card and wished her a good rest of the trip. I headed back to the camp site and dropped my backpack and took off my I boots and kind of collapsed in my tent. Maybe for like 30 min..I hadn’t eaten anything since the top of the hill. Hungry! Igor texts, he is downtown. Planned to meet up with him to eat. The first time I have scrolled facebook all day and I see the exact same bench and pictures the the hike that I took!? (Just a different angle). Of course I get upset and said out of alllllll of the hikes and you picked the same one I did…and didn’t say anything?? Anyway, I guess he also chose that hike for its view. I had thought it was because I tagged myself there with the donation picture. Meh either way. We fought over a few beers then decided it was only because we didn’t communicate properly. I could have used him to take my crazy running selfie. So we ate and had 3 beers then come back to the tents. Tomorrow (today) is his last day in NZ. While I sit and type this on the picnic table that he grabbed as another person left. He is waiting on me. We havnt decided what to do for his last day here yet.
Pressure to type this blog and pressure to go!
After he leaves it will be bitter sweet. I will start doing more…mountain man things? Camping where there aren’t so man people around, etc.
Sadly even I fail when I know that communication makes or break any friendship or relationship.
Word of the day:
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day saying “I’ll try again tomorrow.”
MARY ANNE RADMACHER