It has been cloudy and stormy and beautiful here in Queenstown. It seems like every type of weather is just another way for the mountains to showcase their magnificence. We needed exercise today, but there was little chance of a hike to a view and so our trusty leader decided that we would retrace part of the Ben Lomond track and summit Bowen Peak, another slightly lower peak near Ben Lomond Summit. Scott kept stressing that this was a hike for exercise and nothing more. He also might have mentioned in passing that he didn’t see a trail, but we’d find it when we got to the saddle. We took the gondola up this time and began the steady 1.5 hour grind of the Ben Lomond trail.
The view was very different than two days before.
We began to look to look for the trail to Bowen Peak at this sign.
The clouds moved quickly across the sky and one minute you could see nothing of the valley below and the next the lake peeked through.
We had a snack at the same park bench but this time there was no view.
This is the valley between Ben Lomond and Bowen Mountains and here we hoped to find a path, at least I hoped to find a path, you never know about the others. You know what Scott thinks about bushwhacking.
There was a trail! Hallelujah! It was flat compared to the last 1.5 hours of hiking and gently wended its way around the mountain. I assumed that soon it would begin the ascent up to the peak but in the meantime, I was certainly enjoying the reprieve. Ashley stopped to climb a rock and Scott squinted contemplatively up at the mountain. I waited. I knew what was coming. It had been joyfully absent in my life for far too many weeks. “You know…I feel like we should just start bushwhacking. We just need to…start heading towards the peak.” Yep, those were the words I was waiting for and he was acting like it was a carefully considered decision when I know inside he was jumping and shouting, “Yes! There is no trail! We get to bushwhack! Today is a good day!” And then casually he says, “We’ll just go to the top and take the trail down.” My heart leapt at those words but my head, it rolled its eyes. because my head knew that there was no trail anywhere on Bowen Mountain.
It was a new level of bushwhacking, straight up and you couldn’t see the top. I think they were afraid of losing me because they did wait more than usual. It was very foggy.
There were some interesting rocks to break up the monotony. I counted steps and wished I would have read the article my father-in-law emailed me about the “rest step” technique a little more carefully the last time I complained about a challenging hike (Meet Hoher Fricken, My Bad Boyfriend).
There was very little visibility for the hour and twenty minutes of steep uphill bushwhacking. The kids plowed ahead and I lumbered behind thinking that there had to be some lesson in this hike that I needed to learn. I was not in a great mood. I hate bushwhacking, my feet were hurting from the uneven terrain, the fog was irritating me and the lack of trail made me feel lonely, like we were the only people to ever come this way. It was just barely cold, but very humid and the exertion of it all had me sweating and panting and cursing here and there, but I did realize something. There was nothing to do but to keep going and hope that there actually was a summit somewhere in the fog. That was my lesson. Sometimes the only thing to do is to keep going.
I felt better at the summit. The clouds had lifted and although there was no trail to be found, there was evidence that we were not the only humans to ever bushwhack to the top of Bowen Mountain.
We could catch glimpses of Lake Wakatipu and the weather certainly gave us a different perspective from our Ben Lomond summit.
There was even a, “hey other people have been here” marker at the top.
This is the valley between our two mountains, although the fog was very disorienting.
Foggy summit selfie.
Back down we go, sans trail and it was just as challenging going down as it was hiking up.
The kids hung back for a while and tried to teach me proper mountain goat techniques but gave up when they realized it was pointless and much more fun to frolic down the mountain and wait occasionally.
They really do have a good time together.
Ashley took this classic hikers pose photo of Scott looking out into the foggy abyss.
We surprised the kids by offering them some rides on New Zealand’s version of the alpine coaster when we reached the Skyline Gondola area.
I was looking for them on the chair lift to take a picture and I didn’t even recognize them because I thought that my kids were much smaller.
They had a good time and Scott and I went inside to enjoy a beer with a view, German style.
We met them with jelly beans when they got off of their ride and then we took the gondola back down to Queenstown. I can’t say that the Bowen Mountain Bushwhack was my favorite hike, but looking back through the pictures it seems pretty special.