Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mount Cook Iceberg Adventures!

Mount Cook.... gosh... Mount Cook just doesn't disappoint. You may remember a series of posts from a weekend trip to Mount Cook from several months ago that went wrong in all the right ways and delivered some pretty memorable events - those lupine flowers, the crazy Christmas Hillbilly place, the crazy blue water, the constant rain...  Well, this trip to the Mount Cook (Aoraki) region ended up being another trip to remember. Evan, Lie, and I headed that way for a field trip away from the Southlands. We ended up with a lot of amazing pictures (both scenic and hilarious). Some will require some explaining. Some will just speak for themselves.  All of the pictures in this post are from a hike we went on at the base of Mount Cook in Hooker Valley to a glacial lake. Let the hijinks ensue:

We're coming for ya, Mount Cook! - actually were leaving at this point. It was actually super cloudy that morning, but not a cloud in the sky that afternoon.  A lady promised us that it would all lift by 11:00. She lied. It took til almost 12:30... we were offended by her lies.

After checking out the visitor's center (to wait out the heavy cloud cover that morning) and choosing the right trail for us, we headed out to the Hooker Valley Trail.
Some of the clouds were still lingering at that point, but within 30 minutes, they were completely gone.

the first of several bridges on the trail. We tried to rock them to scare Lie, but they were actually pretty sturdy. By the end, she didn't care anymore, which was pretty disappointing to me. Some of those small bridges will really bounce!

Confession Time: we all thought this was Mount Cook for a while, until we finally came around a turn in the trail and realized Mount Cook was actually a different mountain. 

Group Selfie on the bridge!

Moving right along to the next bridge, where we took pictures of the real Mount Cook. 

Lie excited the clouds have lifted and to be rid of the imposter mountain that tricked us all into thinking it was the tallest peak in NZ.

Look how thrilled she is! Soaking in the warmth and sunlight, escaped from the harsh US Winter and Spring.

Evan was apparently really enjoying it too!

Party Pooper. I guess I didn't get the memo on the proper pose..

And let's just go back to Evan real quick. He was so happy he was actually floating on air.

The river flowing from the glacial lake. We're getting closer!

Lie catching some serious air.

While she and Evan were taking the above picture, I struggled my way through the gorse (thorny bushes) to get this shot:
Not sure it was worth basically sitting on a thorn bush to get to it after all... but since I went through all that, I'm sharing the pic.

And then we made it to the lake!!!
The gray thing in the valley in the back center is a glacier. All those icebergs broke off of it, and are now drifting along the lake.

Made it to our destination!

Lake level view. That is Mt. Cook in the back.

Holding a piece of the glacier/bergs in our hands! Behold the ice!

Guess what I'm thinking...

Yep!  I knew the water couldn't be THAT deep... but it was THAT cold!  Imagine how cold you would expect a lake of ice-water to be, then subtract another 15 degrees.

YES!!!  Totally worth the ice bath. How epic to be standing on an iceberg!

Evan chilling by the lake, debating on whether or not he wants to wade out to the bergs.

He started with that little berg right by the edge, but it was a little wobbly, and wasn't very satisfying, so he did eventually make it out to the same one I was on.

And Lie joined the fun too!  She debated it for a while, but decided she wasn't going to have another chance any time soon to wade in a glacial lake and stand on an iceberg. So after tossing her my shoes, she agreed to come out to the berg.

Here's Lie on the iceberg. Now let me explain this shot a little bit before you get to the next one... Lie wanted to try and get a picture by herself, so I agreed to try to sneak out of the frame. She was like 'lay down'... so I did, and as she's telling Evan to 'just crop it so you can't see him' she suddenly goes '.....or maybe DON'T!!!' and this was the bigger picture:

We laughed at this picture for days. I still laugh every time I see it. Try as I might to explain it, no words will every truly do it justice. Evan was just  like, 'oh my God.' and just kept giggling. What a kodak moment.

After recovering from that fiasco, I just couldn't resist the challenge of getting out to that next berg. That proved to be a much colder, deeper event. The phrase 'tip of the iceberg' holds true for even these little guys, and there were big branches and chunks of ice hiding under the murky waters and I came back with a big lump on my knee for a few days, but it was all totally worth it. I'd do it all again... except for maybe the part about trying to subtly sneak out of Lie's picture : )

And after our day of playing on the icebergs and running around at the base of the mountain, we headed over the the Tekapo Hot Pools for some soaking in the hot springs under the stars before calling it a night. This day was a highlight of the trip for sure.

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