Monday, March 5, 2012

Dear Mt. Xenicus, You Kicked My...

On Friday around 6pm, the Tramping Club headed towards Paradise (past Queenstown).  We were in "bed" (in a sleeping bag under a tarp) around 1am, up at 5am for breakfast (muesli, milk, and tea) and on the trail listening to owls and finding glow worms in the dark around 6am.  The sunrise picture above was taken from Routeburn Flats about 1 1/2 hours into the hike.

Our group included Jaz (leader), Tiff, Joey, Pete, Sean and myself.  We knew we were in for 12-14 hours of hiking.  I was not aware that I should have appreciated the nice flat trail up to this point.

Last view of Routeburn Flats for a little bit...

So, you can tell the stream looks a little farther away at this point.  There was a LOT of effort that went into getting to the point where this picture was taken.  We crossed through the stream and then started bushwhacking to the top of this mountain.  I wore gaitors to protect my shins from the prickly plants that covered the rocks and boulders we crossed over.  

In hindsight, it was really cool to scale a mountain and see up close and first hand how the landscape changes.  In the moment, I was scared as hell that I was going to slip down to the base and a) get hurt and b) have to start over trying to get to the top.  Luckily, there was a lot of a grassy plant called tussocks that I could grab ahold of and use to pull myself up... I probably spent a good hour and a half on my hands and knees (and belly) getting up to the top.  Supposedly, this would cut a solid hour off of our hike.

I took a quick break to "chocolate up" (refuel with yumminess) and noticed my poor leggings!  I got holes in the knees from army crawling up the mountain.

I'm pretty good at pretending to be happy, huh?  It's hard to tell, but there is considerable distance to go to get to the bump of rock just below that little bit of blue sky you see in this picture.

I was victorious getting to the top of the first mountain. YAY!

You can see the perfect line where the snow ends on the mountains in the distance.

Getting happier!  This is about as far up as I was willing to go.  The rest of the group went on to the Mt. Xenicus summit.  It was too icy for me to dare attempt it.

Time for the group to chocolate up one last time before the 2 hour trip to the summit of Mt. Xenicus.

Dad's backpack in New Zealand... Dennis Boucher was with us that day!  Yeah, and, for anyone who has read my recap of Ironman Lake Placid, I saw a butterfly!  Coincidence? I think not.  Not quite a monarch, but it was orange and black (probably a moth of some sort, but I'll pretend it really was a butterfly).

Here's the last of my ascent towards Mt. Xenicus.  I'm out of breath, my nose was running because it was windy and cold, and it had been about 7 hours since we had breakfast (I was a little hungry and dehydrated at this point).

So, what's a girl to do when she hangs back while the rest of the group moves on to risk life and limb just to say they reached the top?  Perhaps a little test of the self-timer feature on the camera is in order!

Perhaps a little exploration of my own to see what views I can find for myself...

Lake Wilson on the right.........

When the group returned from the summit, it was time to get out of the cold and wind so that we could relax for lunch.

At last, it was time to head back to the Routeburn Track, but first... a view of Lake Harris...

.... and a closer view of Lake Harris...

All we had left to do was turn around... and follow the water...

Follow the water down to the valley...

I see FLAT land ahead!!

(We climbed that mountain on the left!)

Flat land makes me very happy.

The rest of the hike would be super easy if our bodies weren't beat from the previous 10 hours of hard work!

One last bridge....

Back at camp...

On Sunday, we did an easy 40 minute walk to Sylvan Lake.

The only thing left to do was hit the road.  We stopped in Queenstown to get AMAZING food from Fergburger.  But, not before one last look at Lake Wakatipu.


  1. Sara - These pics are absolutely gorgeous. It makes me want to visit New Zealand. Debbie B.

  2. Thanks! You are more than welcome to come to NZ and see them in person! =)

  3. Jennifer ManjarezMarch 7, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    OMG! Seriously. I am JEALOUS! I'm definitely going to utilize your fountain of knowledge whilst you're in NZ and come see you! You HAVE to show me these magnificent places when I get there!! Exercise AND FUN while in a new place! Just amazing! You have more cajones than I do! and that's my middle name! - Jennifer "Cajones" Manjarez ;)