November 13th MT. COOK
From Tasmania, we flew to New Zealand. Instead of Air B n B’s we tried something new. The Falyn Family Five are traveling in a campervan.
It sleeps four, with a stove, a refrigerator and a toilet. We aren’t using the toilet as we don’t want to deal with the chemicals to keep it clean.
Like most changes, traveling in a campervan instead of houses and motel rooms takes a period of adjustment.
At first, I wondered how in the heckle (that’s #3’s word) we were going to manage in such close quarters. Especially, since the first three days in the campervan we drove a lot of hours and slept in the same place.
But now into the fourth day, we are driving less, exploring a lot more and sleeping quite fine, thank you.
New Zealand is divided into two large islands--the North and the South. Currently we are on the South Island, more specifically in the southern part of the South Island—in the interior, up against the mountains.
In the north part of the Southern Island there are incredible bays and an ocean to explore. But since we’ve spent a lot of time along the coast in other countries, we opted for the mountains, rivers and lakes of the south.
Mt. Cook was our first destination. It’s the highest mountain in New Zealand and took a couple days to get to. But when the mountain peak appeared on the horizon we all knew the effort was worth the drive.
Snowcapped Mt. Cook looked like a peak that had escaped from the Swiss Alps. Mountains of slightly lesser size surrounded Mt. Cook but from our vantage point the other mountains seemed to kneel to the tallest, most distinguished peak.
Our campsite was near Mt. Cook. We decided to walk a three-hour trail to get a little closer to the snow on the mountain. That was a huge interest of #4. She wanted to touch the cold stuff, ideally she wanted to play in a field of snow with snow falling all around her as she twirled in a circle trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue. Since the weather forecast didn’t call for snow, I whispered to myself, “someday, you will. Someday”.
We started our hike at 5:30pm so we needed to move it if we were going to finish the hike before darkness drastically changed the environment and we froze our butts off. (Is that possible?) #4 and I enthusiastically led the charge. #2 and the other numbers took up the rear.
We met two woman returning from the lake, who told us there was snow at the end of the trail. They said, “once you pass over the third suspension walking-bridge, you’ll be close.” That motivated #4 and I to walk faster. I don’t usually walk fast but #4 really wanted to see the snow and I really wanted to get back before the sun set over the mountain peaks and the temperature dropped to ‘bitter’.
The first bridge was fun to cross. As #4 jumped and swayed on the bridge; it felt like I was on a trampoline with many people bouncing at the same time. We eventually crossed the third bridge, rounded a bend of brush and boulders and gazed upon a clear lake resting at the base of Mt. Cook. A thin line of clouds (#4 and decided these clouds were born on top of the mountain) cut across the mid-section of the mountain.
The snow line was still out of reach but we did see glaciers a little lower and some pieces that had fallen away from the rocks into the lake below.
Yes, there were ice bergs in the lake! #4 reached into the icy water and grabbed a piece of ice berg about the size of a football and weighing that fifteen pounds or so. She wanted to bring it back to the campsite—about one and half hours away.
After five minutes of handling the ice she decided to set the ice back in the lake.
#2 and the rest of the numbers still hadn’t caught up with us and since the sun was starting to set behind the top edges of the mountain clouds, we decided sit on the gravel beach and take one last look at Mt. Cook as it towered over the icy lake, before we went looking for them.
#4 and I sat transfixed.
Mountains with glaciers to our sides, a trail behind us and ice floating in a clear blue lake before us. Rising above it all was the majestic peak of Mt. Cook.
#2 had the camera so there are no photos but I’ve captured the moment in the camera of my mind—sitting at Nature’s altar with my little girl—and I will keep it there for the rest of my life.
On the road with the Falyn Family Five!