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Mt. Cooked

January 27, 2011

Mt. Cook, South New Zealand.

12,180 feet towering in the air.  The highest Mountain Peak in all of Australia, Asia and New Zealand.  The locals made it clear, wear your sunscreen, since you are so elevated, you could get cooked.

On the drive in however, it was raining, in buckets…and as usual Nikki was napping.  To the left of me was pristine green waters andcliffs of Lake Pukaki.  As I drove closer, the mountains were growing in stature.  And because of the rain, huge cascading waterfalls were falling off their edges. 

In The States, I always get an anxious feeling when I drive from the airport to the mountains out West for a ski trip.  It is an exciting feeling.  A humbling feeling.  Knowing that humans could never make something so grand like these mountains.  Their faces touching the very clouds we can only fly an airplane thru.  The mountains have been part of this earth many years before us, and will for sure, be there many more.  I started getting that excited and anxious feeling driving into Mt. Cook National Park.

But where was it?  Sure it was raining, but it had to be there.  I could see the other mountains that surrounded her.  But ahead of me, all I could see where large grey rain storm clouds.  I tried to focus.  But after a long afternoon of driving, all I saw was the mass grey of the rain clouds and water.  Then Nikki woke up and she realized, that mass grey structure in front of me, skying over both of us…was Mt. Cook!

Even in the rain we were both awed.  Nikki had never seen a mountain of this size before. 

We would sleep well, hoping that tomorrow morning it would clear up.  The odds were against us though, only 20% of the time are you able to actually see the top of Mt. Cook.  It is so high up, that often it is enshrined in clouds.

We got lucky, as we have been most of this trip.  The morning light shining thru our lodge curtains brought nothing but blue skies.  Our hike was on! Mt. Cook’s skyscraping snow capped peaks would be our only map.

Humor me please, this is my version of "climbing Mt. Cook"...behold the height!

The hike in to the base of Mt. Cook is relatively untouched by man, except for a couple swing bridges over rapids and one plank area over a marsh.  The rest has been “thrashed” by what thousand year old glaciers left behind… huge rocks, cliffs and erosion gashes into the soil and rock. It is very rocky, the hike is challenging.  The weather perfect, and the locals were right, the sun was relentless.  This was going to be our kind of hike.

No Hands Nikki. We approved this swing bridge since it was 40 feet above a raging whitewater river of cold glacier water.

Here are some pics once we reached the base of the mountain.

Now, how the heck do I get down from here? Nice and easy...

Here lies the photography artist...hard at "work".

We had a packed lunch at Hooker Lake in the shade of a huge boulder, and prepared for the return hike home.

A helluva gal, posing in front of a helluva mountain.

Nikki and I have about 4 days left for our honeymoon.  We decided at the last minute, covered in a film of sweat and sunscreen, to road trip it all the way to Kaikoura. 

This is a sleepy little beach town known for it’s animals, like seals and whales…and Nikki was not going to pass up any animals.  While I don’t expect you to help drive, I do expect you to enjoy our final couple of days surrounded by animals…see you there!

With Mt. Cook fading in our rearview mirror, we headed North to our next adventure.

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