Alright, it is my first whole day in Queenstown. Time to get things going. Since my plans are to hike as much as possible down here, it is time to do some warming up, some practice for the harder parts. Doing a day trip up Ben Lomond should be the right kind of exercise to get me prepared for multi day hiking. Besides, I can adjust my gear, that is already around whopping 25kg overall weight. My camera gear alone is over 4kg. Jeez.
Anyway, that’s the plan for today: Going up to Ben Lomond Summit. According to this sign it is a 8 hours return trip. A solid day trip, yet it is expected to be a quite exhausting one, cause you are basically going uphill all the time. Well and downhill on your way back, which is usually even more annoying.
Of course it was a simple day trip. No need to carry much gear. No need to carry much food or anything else. But still, I took everything with me I’ve got, just to get me used to it again. It has been a while since I’ve been backpacking and on the road. Don’t forget, that nearly one year has passed since I’ve settled in Auckland. It felt quite good to be out there again. I can say, I missed this very much indeed. So freedom, here I come, even if it’s just for a short period.
There is a saying down here: “If you don’t like the weather in New Zealand, wait for 15 minutes”. This was never more true than on this day. I had it all. Pretty much any imaginable weather pattern occurred to me.
At the beginning I had an overcast sky and dull colors all around me. As soon as I got into the forest, the sun started to come out and cast its rays through the tightly arranged tree lines. It reminded me a little bit of a fantasy movie forest with all those fairies and magic swords. Unfortunately there was no princess on my way, that needed someone to rescue her. As soon as I passed the tree limit and faced the barren land of upper Ben Lomond, I was welcomed by some quick showers, that were followed by one of the most amazing rainbows I’ve ever seen.
But the luck of such a nice view shouldn’t last for too long. Shortly after the weather changed again. The sun was gone and replaced by some nasty cold winds and overcast gray skies. Still, whenever I looked back. I could still see the lake and the beauty surrounding him.
Some people say, that mountains are not just stacks of dead stones. They say, a mountain is some kind of living being, and not everyone of them is very friendly towards humans. Some mountains make themselves very inaccessible and some are just pricks like Ben Lomond. Whoever is controlling a mountain must have some very childish attitudes. Otherwise I can’t explain why it did start snowing after you got on that side of the mountain ridge that was fully exposed to the weather. Is it because it is so close to the top? So you have to proof that you are worth to get up there?
I don’t know what it was, but I decided to fight this damn lump of rocks and withstand any trouble he’d confront me with.
And so I did it. I reached the top eventually, despite the nasty wind and the snowfall. And indeed, short before I got up there it stopped snowing and the wind seized off. Can it be true? Did Ben Lomond just give up on fighting me, instead appreciating my efforts? But my prosperity was soon to be diminished as I could see that he had to make a last call.
From all the patterns, fog is the worst when you are in the vicinity of the summit. Ultimately, the reward for all your efforts is an amazing view. This is why we are taking all this pain on us, isn’t it? But this fog just destroyed this special moment. But what the heck, it didn’t lower my happiness that I made it up there anyway. Honestly, with all that load on my back and being not accustomed to it anymore it was a quite hard climb. Still, I made it.
My way back was rather unspectacular. The fog didn’t diminish all the way down, so there was not really much to see. I just kept going, trotting along into the nothingness of this gray wall.
Still, it was a very nice, yet hard hike. It made me looking forward to the upcoming events and after all hiking make you feel more than very great.
After my return to Queenstown it was finally time to do some socializing. Coincidentally Anki and Sarah that I know from back home and Lara who is in my sports team, were in Queenstown, too. So it was more than time to catch up with them to find out what happened to them throughout the last couple of weeks.
Later this evening we went into the Altitude Bar that is attached to the Base hostel where the girls stayed. That night there was a quiz night going on and guess what who freaking won the whole show?
Well, long story short, we won paint ball vouchers for four people. How great is that? I always wanted to play. Finally, I got a chance, to do so.
So after all the second day was great despite the funny weather. But the hike was simply stunning, and I still got enough to see. Meeting the girls after a while was a great thing too. No question winning the pub quiz.
I am really looking forward to tomorrow, where we are going to do something completely different in a place called Nevis Bluff…
More impressions from Day 2: