Aoraki / Mt. Cook National Park


Eh, yesterday wasn’t awesome. I hitched into the park from Twizel in the morning and caught views of Mt. Cook towering above a thick layer of clouds that were trapped in the valleys below. When we arrived at the Hooker Valley Trailhead, the clouds were obscuring the views, so I headed to the iSite and spent most of the day there waiting for the clouds to lift. They finally did, sorta, so I decided to walk to Kea Point, then up the Hooker Valley Track. It was cool, but it didn’t blow my mind.

I made dinner down in the valley before climbing up to Sealy Tarns where I set up camp for the night. The clouds had rolled back in, so I was skeptical of the forecasted clear skies for today. I was crossing my fingers so hard that I thought I’d break them. What did I get off trail for if the weather is going to continue to refuse to cooperate. Hike Te Araroa, they said. Hike it in the summer months, they said. It’ll be beautiful, they said. Ugh. And then today, it was.

I awoke to a clear blue sky and the faint light of the sun as it began to crest the ridge across the valley. Larryn shot up and out of his sleeping bag: “Ah, first light!” We arrived at the tarns around the same time last night, so we camped together. He’s a wicked photographer, so I was picking his brain. We were both stoked about the light and the promise of the day. We snapped away this way and that. Took a few epic captures for each other too. The thought that clouds might roll in never really crossed either of our minds. Then, of course, they did. We were at least a stout hour climb from Mueller Hut, and both of us considered not going up. Figured we wouldn’t be able to see anything anyways.

Once I packed up, I decided that I was so close that it’d be silly not to go have a look, so off I went. And I’m glad I did. Just as I reached the saddle, the cloud cover got thinner. Then I caught brief glimpses of Mt. Cook. Then, finally, the sun burned off the high clouds, and there it stood in front of me. I snapped photos for a couple hours before finally forcing myself to head down. So thankful that it cleared for me, and I’m excited to get back on the long path.

Quick hitch out of the trailhead parking lot, and I was off to Twizel to resupply. I’d thought about hitching up to Arthur’s Pass to tackle Avalanche Peak, but I don’t wanna wait two days for the weather to clear. Maybe I’ll hitch back from Wanaka or Queenstown. For now, I’m off.