Blogs in order:
- The Journey Begins
- Airport Time
- Big Lines and Big Hair
- Moment of Truth
- From Plan A to Plan B to Plan C
- C is For Correct
- Getting to Know Ernie
- We Hike and Hike and Hike Some More
We got picked up early by our driver for the day, Hayden. “He’s also the school teacher” whispered Borut. “And the principal” added Rich.
Hayden dropped us off to start our hike to The Blue Pools. We climbed over many swing bridges which never get old for Griffin.
I have never seen water so clear, you can see straight to the bottom.
This is glacier water, so not for swimming. Way too cold. Unless you are crazy like my friend Steve K. did when he was hiking here as a stupid teenager. His voice never did come down back to its regular octave after that.
The trail was incredible of course. We saw a dangerous herd of buffalo in the distance and when they caught our scent, they stampeded straight at us! Only they were more like friendly cows, and there was a fence, so we were ok.
They got closer.
Well hello cows! Tess and Laura did not understand our a-moo-sement.
After about mile four of every hike, my left hip flexor likes to show up to the party as an uninvited guest. Now “Right Calf” has been tagging along as if “plus ones” were even invited.
We came to a plant and Tess gathered us around.
“This is called a Lolly Tree. Take a small piece of a leaf and chew it for a few seconds before spitting it out, you will taste sweet”.
I did as I was told and soon my mouth started to tingle . “Hmm it must be peppermint because…YOWZA!!”
“Did I say Lolly Tree? Oops, I meant PEPPER tree”.
Oh that Tess and her cheeky sense of humor! My tongue burned for a long time. I should have known from the red leaves. I’m so gullible!
After a hike full of
rolling undulating hills, the track was getting more and more narrow. We had to grab roots on the hillside to our right because there was a ledge to our left and I don’t like ledges. It was getting rockier and steeper until finally the trail ended. Then I saw the chain that went straight up the steep rock. This is not my kind of hiking. I looked at Tess and said ” Yah, I’m good here”. She told me no problem, to plant myself and wait for the others to finish as they would be coming back this way. So that’s what I did and she waited with me.
I glanced up at it and she said ” Oh you sooo want to climb that chain I can see it!”
And damn it, I did! It scared the hell out of me, but up I went. I knew getting down would be worse but I didn’t come to NZ to be a wuss, so what the hell, I went for it. I read somewhere that you should do something every day that scares you. Check steep rock climbing off my today’s list!
Hiking through the hard stuff, I’ve decided that Nelly The Elephant isn’t really a good theme song for me . It’s catchy but not motivating. I need something like Jefferson Starship’s “I am the Warrior” but one that doesn’t suck because I hate that song.
I made it down the steep part with the chain alive because now I’m a freaking MOUNTAIN GOAT but one who was really ready to head back. Tess told us when we got down the hill to the beach we would stop and take a break. When we got there the wind had picked up and it was really cold. My legs were very tired from all the technical climbing over rocks and roots we did with the steep ledges, remember? I knew we had a long hike back and I was ready for that break when Tess said, “And here’s our ride!” We couldn’t believe it. Tess and Laura hired a jet boat driver to give us a ride through the rivers with spins and tricks and all the fun stuff! When the boat driver took off his scarf and glasses to greet us, it was Hayden, our morning van driver. Who’s probably also the postal carrier, policeman and judge in this town. We all started cracking up. Tess had DEMANDED that we bring our “sunnies” on this hike, and now we knew why.
The jet boat ride was insanely beautiful and insanely cold! Remember, this river is made from snow melt off the glacier but Hayden did a great job keeping us dry. It’s so amazing to have all of the river to ourselves, no one else around. What an incredible surprise, thank you Tess and Laura- well done!
After a short lunch we had two more hikes. One straight up a mountain and then we walked across the road to do a 5 mile hike with large undulating hills through an enchanted forest. We hiked over 11 miles today over very steep stuff and I’m fried. Any one of the three hikes we did today would have been an entire workout for me with a day off the next day if we were home. The mountains win. I saw so many beautiful things today, but nothing compares to seeing Ernie and Kermie waiting at the end of a tough hike.
I crawled back to the cabin to shower then slithered on my belly to the lodge for dinner since my legs have now quit.
My sand fly bites are being used as helpful landing points for their friends. My legs are covered in bites that itch so bad I could go insane. Only Rich’s legs look like mine. What can we say? Some of us are just more delicious than others.
What an incredible day filled with adventure and beauty. We have such an awesome group of people and the best two guides in Active Adventure, I’m sure of it.
Long drop- outhouse
Short drop-when it’s full
Peedles- bike (as in: tomorrow we are going to “push some peedles”)