Day 152 My eyes welled up
Wednesday 11 March Side trip off trail Aoraki / Mt Cook
11.30am I arrived at Aoraki/Mt Cook Village this morning. A heavy low mist obliterated any view of the mountains. As I had ordered clear skies and following assurances from the shuttle driver and the weather forecast that the cloud would clear, I decided to head up the Mueller Track to the Sealy Tarn in the mist. I first had a look around the excellent display at the DOC Information Center, giving the weather every opportunity to play the game. There were 2,200 steps to climb. I didn't count them, that's what the DOC info said. All went well and it was quite a novelty having a formed path with steps. Some of them even had concrete in them. I have arrived at the tarn and the weather is still not playing the game . Visibility changes from about 5m to 15m. So I am sitting here waiting for the mist to clear and hence I'm writing this to fill the time. 1.15pm I have had my lunch, tried to take photos of a bird I don't recognize, listened to the kea, and frozen myself in the drizzly mist despite the down jacket and rain coat. My fingers are numb and struggling to write this. The mist started to clear, then it closed in again. At least there is now a breeze which will hopefully blow it away. Two kea just flew overhead, close enough to see them through the fog. I'm guessing they are casing the joint as there are now quite a number of people here, all waiting for the mist to go. OMG it is clearing and this view just poked its head out of the clouds. Got to go.
Evening How the vista revealed itself to me was magical, and a million times better than if the sky had been clear the whole way up. I had no idea of how close I was to Aoraki or the Mueller glacier in the valley beside me. One minute it was still dense mist, next minute I could see the tip of Aoraki. From that moment the mist rapidly rolled back to reveal the entire majestic mountain with Hooker Glacier below. My eyes weld up, and tears fell on my cheeks. It took another 10 to 15 minutes for the glacier in the valley next to me to come into view. It equally took my breath away. It was so close. There cannot be a more incredible place on earth.
I stayed for another three hours. I didn't want too leave. Everyone else had left and I was blissfully on my own. Well not really, I just couldn't see or hear anyone else come and go. I had found my own little vantage point off the track which I settled into. I was simply sitting, soaking every incredible sight into my being. For a while I just lay there and listened. I could hear the constant low roar of the glacial river in the valley way below me, the chirping of a cicada, the intermittent squawking of the kea, and the occasional thunderous sound of rock slides and breaking ice from the glacier beside me. I am so unbelievably excited about exploring Tasman Glacier tomorrow and learning how to ice climb. Not to mention the helicopter ride to get me there. Weather forecast is perfect. If it was possible to burst I think I probably would have today. I can't even imagine how I am going to feel tomorrow.
Here are the evening time lapse photos I took of Aoraki.