Snow balls in summer time
24.12.2012 - 01.01.2013 0 °C
'For the umpteenth time Daniel we are not going to have snow at Christmas ,it's summer here!'
Daniel has been struggling with the concept that Christmas can occur if it isn't winter. His levels of anxiety leading up to Christmas grew and grew with concerns over Father Christmas finding us and of course if he did find us would he have anything we could actually take home with us?
As it happened his concerns were unfounded. Father Christmas did incredibly well, particularly as he only had one day on the job. Christmas morning came about and the sun beat heavily down on the driftwood Christmas tree we had left hanging on the veranda. The stocking which had been carefully carried out from England was bulging on our friends wood burner (not lit), and all the usual Christmas festivities were had ,albeit without the rousing verses of the 12 days of Christmas from our family. It was hot and it was nice but as soon as it was over it was back to the increasingly weary business of travelling. We are here to have fun and we blooming well will even if it kills us!
More than half way through our travels and moving on is becoming harder. The comfort of staying in our friends house for a week was hard to leave behind. This travel lethargy was increased with the knowledge that from now on the whole of New Zealand was on it's holidays so no more empty campsites or just turning up and hoping for the best. We packed our stuff up and tried to decide where to go next.
On the day of departure we still hadn't decided where to go. I had found a fantastic looking tramp in the Mount Cook area which involved a bit of an alpine route and a stay in a hut, perfect for Daniels first big mountain experience but one look at the weather forecast and we nearly unpacked again. After lots of umming we decided to head that way anyhow and hoped for the best.
Three hours later and boy we were pleased we had. Mount Cook loomed at the end of the valley like a beautiful giant. I have been to many mountainous places in the world with mountains much bigger than Mount Cook but there is something about the way this mountain stretches right up from the valley floor with the lake infront of it and glaciers around it which surpasses much that I have seen. As we arrived the mountains were clear and it was a glorious evening it was easy to forget the horrendous forecast for the next day.
On waking the next day it was still clear but you could see the weather coming in from the west. The Mueller hut is on a first come first served basis which is why it wasn't already booked up, so were down at the DOC office by 7.30 eating our breakfast on it's doorstep ready to sign up. However after much deliberating and searching every forecast I could find I broke the news to Daniel that we couldn't stay in the hut as it would be too risky waiting until Sunday to come down, instead we would go for Plan B walking up to Sealy tarns (the half way point) and back in a day.
With much lighter rucksacks we set off. Stunning landscape met us every inch of the way. Starting in fields of lupins (considered to be weeds) then trudging slowly up 1810 steps to Sealy tarns. These steps were quite a feat to build I am sure, but by the time we got there we hated steps. For Daniel this was the biggest walking challenge of his life. In terms of distance it is nothing but in height gain it was about 1000 metres. When we got to Sealy tarns we could see the snow line enticingly just above us and we could also see that it was the end of the blasted steps. Luckily Daniel was easily bribable and with just the promise of an ice cream I got him to carry on. From here on the path was unmade and as we got higher we crossed several snow patches. This actually made it much more fun but also more serious if the weather deteriorated. Four and a half hours after leaving the car park we made it to the ridge. Fantastic! I was very proud of my boy and it opened up all manner or Mother/Son outings in the future. This route was an amazing first alpine tramp for Daniel as in a short time he had seen glaciers, heard seracs collapsing, seen the very unusual sight of a glacier ending in a lake with icebergs floating on it and looked far below to the valley he had climbed up from. It was tempting to carry on another half an hour to the hut just out of curiosity, but the wind had increased and the weather was about to hit us so reluctantly we started the long journey down. Just as we hit the bottom step the heavens opened and by the time we had walked back to the village we were soaked though but happy. From that point on rain fell, thunder bellowed around the mountains and on our drive out we got hit by massive hail, so, sorry to have missed you Mueller hut but we definitely made the right decision at at least we got to throw snow balls at Christmas time.