New Zealand is an outdoor enthusiasts dream come true because there are infinite epic outdoor adventures to choose from and today was definitely epic. Scott found a doozie for us by the name of Mt. Alfred. He started off by telling me that the estimated time was 6-8 hours, but he read a blog that said it could be done in a little over four hours. The trail head was an hour away and the drive itself was beautiful.
I told Grant that the hike was 6-8 hours but he actually laughed out loud when he saw this and remarked that he didn’t think the sign would actually say 6-8 hours.
The trail started out innocently enough and looked a bit jungle-ly.
The path quickly graduated from reasonable to a steep incline.
I was determined to carry my backpack on this hike, but I sent the camera with Scott and made him give me a whistle. I love pictures of our adventures but when they are all ahead of me it’s not much fun taking pictures and so I asked him to take pictures and wait occasionally. I wanted the whistle because I have been separated from them more than once and the night before I had had a dream that we were in a forest and Scott was blowing and blowing the whistle. Our dear friend and neighbor had given us a set of whistles for Christmas to take on our adventures and in my dream I thought, “How happy Dolly will be that we had a reason to use the whistles.” It seemed like a premonition and so I set off with my whistle swinging around my neck, a can-do attitude (sarcasm), Scott calling me coach and the kids happily reminding me that maybe this hike would make me cry and it would turn into a good blog.
They did take some really cute pictures when left to their own devices…
…and some interesting ones.
They waited for me occasionally as we climbed for hours (2 probably) up and up and up through the forest and then finally we were out of the woods and on to the fun stuff. You guessed it…bushwhacking!
The trail ends at the edge of the forest and then it is “choose your own path” up through this rocky grassy ascent to the summit.
It is a sudden and completely different landscape and although you have just climbed steadily for two hours, the forest hides your elevation gain and so it seems like you are at the base of a small rocky hill.
I made my way slowly up the last rocky bits with Scott keeping me company and calling me coach every chance he had.
The summit finally gave perspective to the 3,500 feet of elevation that we had climbed and the view was rewarding. It doesn’t even look real which is what I keep writing about the mountains in this area.
The trail reappears on the top of the mountain.
It was cold and windy but we still had a little hiking left to reach the official summit.
There was some kind of weather station near the path.
Daisies are tough little creatures.
I have grown very fond of summit crosses in our travels and look forward to seeing them at the summit of a challenging hike. There is only a stake to mark the summit of Mt. Alfred, but Scott and the kids fashioned a summit cross for me with a stick and a piece of rope that Scott’s dad gave him and he carries in his backpack. We disassembled it before we left, but it was so sweet of them to give me a summit cross.
This was at the official summit and the views all around us were magnificent.
I liked these little daisies snuggled in the rocks on top of the cold and windy mountain.
We were all in awe of the view.
This is Lake Wakatipu, in the distance, the same lake that Queenstown, an hours drive away, enjoys.
We could see glaciers in the distant mountains.
I was relieved to make it to the top. Now to get back down. Where did I see that gondola?
We walked down the path as far as we could and descended at a lower spot but it was still difficult hiking.
Scott kept me company for a while but then scurried down the mountain to meet the kids. Everyone was eating lunch by the time I made it back to the border of the forest and I just kept going to try and get ahead of them.
Someone had put this is the tree where the path emerges from the forest.
I think going back down the trail is harder for me and this hike was no exception.
The kids raced ahead jumping roots and laughing and Scott kept me company and took pictures. I thought this plant was just leafless and dead, but it is designed this way and there are some really tall ones growing in the forest, maybe ten feet.
The trail stretched while we were up on the summit and the hike back was long but still interesting and beautiful. I kept Scott if we were half way down yet and he kept telling me that this hike was Hoher Fricken except we would finish it (Meet Hoher Fricken, My Bad Boyfriend). I’m still thinking about that hike.
We made it back to the sign in 6 hours (the lower end of the time estimate, Scott) with Scott good-naturedly telling me that I had really set a new record for slow. Scott and the kids could have easily made it under 5. I swear they are like hiking with the elite mountain goat hiking team, but life is not about comparing yourself to others, it is about walking (hiking, tramping or other) your own path and doing your own best (or even good enough) and reveling in that a little bit. Going back to an earlier blog about the importance of celebrating one’s successes (Four Lessons in a Three Hour Tour), I will point out that I carried my backpack the entire way, I did not have to use the whistle and the beautiful scenery will have to carry the blog because I didn’t cry, not once (not that crying is failure by any means).
I made it out of the woods and later that day Scott told me that I really should liven up my blog with a little Taylor Swift (he’s in love with her and I don’t blame him, but Scott, she probably wouldn’t hike with my witty good humor and unshakable grace).
There you go Scott.
All you need to know about tramping the Mt. Alfred Track: