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Wednesday, March 17th, 2004

Mt. Cook (4).JPG

Mt Cook was amazing! We had great weather and did some incredible hiking. The wilderness here in NZ is astounding. We have only been able to scratch the surface. You could hike for weeks with out ever seeing another person. Since we have the van we have limited ourselves to day hikes. We have been making notes to ourselves for next year when we plan to do some multi-day treks. Mt Cook is not even over 4000m but due to the latitude and high annual snowfall it has some incredible glaciations. While at Mt Cook, I climbed Mount Kitchner. It is just over 2000m (not even as high as Boccalatte) but it felt like I was at the top of the world. The climb went up a rarely traveled buttress which makes the knife edge on Kahtadin look tame. I had initially planned to climb along the ridge and meet Luci at a hut on the other side. When I got to the summit of Kitchner the sight of the ridge I had planned to cross nearly made me pass out. It was all ragged and crumbly. I decided to take a different route down a couple hundred meters and back up to the hut. The hut (Mueller) was just built last year. It has a porch on it that gave me some good ideas for an addition to our hut in the alps. Unfortunately, I lost a bunch of the pictures due to a scratched disc.
After the hike, I saw a guy in the parking lot with an AMC Volunteer Trail Crew shirt on. As it turns out he also worked at the south pole this season. We both knew about each other via mutual friends. So, he rode with us to Wanaka where we met up with other fellow Antarcticans from NH. From Wanaka, Luci and I did another hike that took us up a Glacier carved valley to the flanks of Mt Aspiring; NZ’s largest mountain outside of the Mt. Cook area.
Though less than 100km away as the crow flies, our next destination Milford Sound in the Fjordland, is a full day’s drive away. We picked up a bunch of hitchhikers who have been helping to cover the cost of gas. Though Milford Sound itself was anticlimactic with the rows and rows of tourist busses, the drive was stupendous. It is in a temperate rainforest with 2500m glacier capped peaks that drop straight into the ocean. The streams are a crystal blue color and the trees are giants. It is one of the most pristine places I have ever been in my entire life. I went for a hike up to Gertrude Saddle which was a short but grueling hike. At the top of the saddle I had views which typify the area; steep glacier capped mountains, long white clouds, and a fjord at the bottom. We spent the night on the northern shore of Lake Te Anau where we were witness to a very colorful sunset.
We are now back in Wanaka. Luci went to Yoga class and I am getting ready for the next move. Today we plan to drive over Haast pass to the west coast. Fox and Franz Josef glaciers are next on our itinerary.

Back in the Vortex

Wednesday, March 10th, 2004


Well, the vortex has sucked us back in. We are back in CHC taking advantage of the free internet at the Antarctic Center and getting car parts. Internet places want $10 to put digital photos on a CD and these computers use 98 so working with images from a card reader is difficult.

Abel and Jimi are doing well. Jimi’s stalks are getting tough with all the movement but his leaves are getting a little yellow with the last of consistent sun exposure. Abel has been having problems. We got a used battery because the old one wasn’t holding charge. After a couple of days the new one wasn’t charging either. We brought it to a shop here in CHC and they put a new regulator in it and ever since it has been working great. We also went to a junk yard that specializes in van parts. We got all kinds of accessories that were either missing or broken to make it look a little nicer for resale.

The music festival, Destination, was OK. The weather was not great and we got stuck there because the road was muddy. It the breaks of sun we explored the area. There was some great rock climbing and spectacular views of the Southern Alps. After the festival we had plans to go hiking from Aurthur’s pass. The weather was not %100 so we opted to keep moving. We went to the west coast and then back over the mountains at Lewis Pass (lead photo. We had an amazing day of hiking before going back to the east coast. We spent a couple of days in the town of Kaikoura on the east coast where you can see fur seals up close.

We are a little behind schedule. Next we plan to go south to Mt. Cook and Wanaka to do some more hiking before the season catches up with us. Yesterday it was HOT here in CHC which was a pleasant surprise. We will be leaving CHC as soon as I am done with this.