The day dawned sunny and promising superior views.
Mount Cook National Park has several +10,000ft peaks and lots of glaciers, but it has surprisingly few marked trails. This is apparently because the glaciers are receding very quickly and create ongoing avalanches and scree deposits. Many of the trails the Park used to maintain have been completely obliterated over the last 10 years. There is really only one trail that climbs to height.
And on a day like today, you want to be climbing to height for the views.
Only problem is, that particular trail starts with 2200 stairs – which you might recall from my post 2 days ago.
So…call us crazy but we decided to do it again, and then climb an additional 3,500 ft up to Mueller’s Hut which reputedly has spectacular views on a clear day.
You may recall how much I hated those 2200 steps so this time I just wanted to get them over with and we hurtled up in less than an hour. But we weren’t expecting such a challenging subsequent climb – scrambling steeply up through small rough scree, and hauling our way over large rocks that had clearly avalanched down at some point in the past. It was a tough climb but SO worth it.
The views were, in fact, spectacular. See a small sample in the photos below. We could see several glaciers from above and it was interesting to see exactly where they started and how they begin to break apart as they get closer to the bottom. Also we could see a variety of snow-covered peaks from what felt like eye-level, and Mount Cook itself was absolutely glowing all day.
This was one of our top 10 days ever.
A little side-story… as we approached the mountaineering hut at the top, we started to hear Rufus Wainwright (too bad it wasn’t Jeff Buckley!) singing Hallelujah. I thought to myself, how could they possibly have put speakers into a hut up there in all that alpine magnificence?! A minute or so later, I realized it was my own iPhone which had suddenly gone into musical mode all by itself and, when I tried to turn it off, had a frozen screen! I happen to like that song so I have about 15 versions and they were starting to cycle through (much to my embarrassment!) until finally I realized I could use the side buttons to turn down the sound.
Peter thought it was due to the altitude. I think it was because I had it in my front pants pocket and it just got fed up banging against my thigh every step I took!
When we got back, I did some googling and found the “hard reset” solution and … bob’s your uncle. Back in business.
But now whenever I hear Rufus, I will think of that long climb up to Mueller Hut and how he prevented me photographing our arrival!
Peter however thinks the selection of Hallelujah (out of the 769 songs on my iPhone) just as we arrived at the high point was quite magical.