NZ2020: Day 15, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

February 8, 2020

After the beautiful evening views at Lake Ohau, clouds were hiding Aoraki/Mt Cook this morning. The wind was up, and Lake Ohau was a steel gray. We drove back around Ben Ohau and its landslip-streaked mountain face. Slight rain was in the forecast, but we pressed on to Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.

DSC07183

Lake Ohau in the morning

Image 1-27-22 at 3.27 PM

Our driving route to Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

The road follows the shores of Lake Pukaki, up the Hooker Valley toward Aoraki/Mt Cook. We will hike the Sealy Tarns/ Mueller Hut Track, and stay the night at the Mt Cook Chalets.

DSC07223

A rainbow in Hooker Valley, as we approach Aoraki/Mt Cook Village

DSC07230

Trail map showing our location in orange.

Sealy Tarns Track / Mueller Hut Route

This trail is famous for having about 2000 stair steps up to the tarns. It is one of the hardest I have done, but somehow I keep my legs going up. I count steps in sets, counting up to one fewer number each time (20-19-18-17…), with planned breathing/rest stops between sets. There should be 210 steps per set, 10 sets in all…some of the steps are almost ladders. There are clouds blocking some of our views and spitting rain; cold wind, then warming sun.

DSC02054

Trail stairs

DSC07241

Looking down at the Kea Point Lookout on Lake Mueller (circled in blue). Beyond Lake Mueller is a huge moraine, then Hooker Lake.

DSC07245

Kea Point Lookout on Lake Mueller.

DSC07250

Looking toward the camp on Mt Sefton, circled in orange.

DSC07251

Zooming in on a tent at the foot of the glacier on Mt Sefton.

DSC07252

Looking back down Hooker Valley to where we started the hike.

When we arrive at the tarns, I feel surprisingly strong. We eat lunch at the picnic tables, take some pictures of glaciers, then decide to go higher.

DSC07260

Sealy Tarns

DSC07266

Glacier on Mt Sefton

DSC07263

crevasses

DSC07264

wildfire dust?

DSC07265

DSC07268

rockfall

DSC07270

The Mueller Route, going up beyond the tarns.

Above the tarns the track is rougher, a bit cliffy. I miss the stair steps here! We continue up the rocky, “choose your own adventure”, anastomosing trails, until I decide I can go up no more. We take in the view, eat a snack, then go down.

DSC07296

From our high point we had a good view of Hooker Lake, the terminus of Hooker Glacier, and Aoraki/Mt Cook, still in the clouds.

DSC07302

Closer look at Hooker Lake, and the Hooker Valley Trail

DSC07286

Ice bergs in Hooker Lake.

DSC07297

Looking south down the Hooker valley from our high point.

We saw a few flowers and some interesting flora along the trail.

We returned back down the 2000 murderous steps, knees and legs a little wobbly. On the way down, we stopped often to admire the views of the glaciers, lakes, moraines, and the unveiling summit plateau of Aoraki/Mt Cook.

DSC07322

Down the steps…

DSC07325

Another view of the terminus of Hooker Glacier

DSC07336

Close up of Hooker Glacier

DSC07327

The peak of Aoraki/Mt Cook, coming out of the clouds!

DSC07346

Closer views…

DSC07332

The curved southern edge

DSC07331

Northern slopes

DSC07345

So beautiful!

DSC02264

Aoraki/Mt Cook, completely unveiled by the time we reached the bottom of the trail!

DSC07352

and Mt Sefton, too!

We make our way back to the bus, and check into our room at the Mt Cook Chalets, having hiked about 6.5 miles and 2800 feet. But we are not done with the mountain yet! After dinner in the cafe, we relax in the lounge, where we can see the triple triangle face of Aoraki/Mt Cook glowing bright white, then pink with alpenglow, in the pinky blue cloud streaked sky. Phenomenal!

DSC07353

Lounge with a view…

DSC07357

Mt Sefton, Aoraki/Mt Cook

DSC07359

Aoraki/Mt Cook

DSC02304

Tomorrow we are going back to Christchurch – our last guided tour day. The next two weeks in New Zealand will be on our own – with many more adventures that I am excited to be reliving with these blog posts!

January 2022 in Portland

The first couple of weeks were very cold, followed by many days of rain dripping down the windows, yarn loops sliding by on the needles, and just a few sun breaks. A tsunami from Tonga, the Omicron surge just beginning to decline, a trip to Joshua Tree cancelled…another pandemic month in Portland.

Hikes:

1/9/2022 Wildwood Trail to Pittock Mansion in Portland – A rare sunny day – everyone out on the trails – we continued our section hike of the Wildwood Trail, completing about 3 more miles as we hiked up and back to Pittock Mansion from the arboretum, crossing the new Barbara Walker Bridge for the first time.

DSC01567

Up until last year, hikers had to scurry across the very busy Burnside Street.

DSC01571

 Barbara Walker Bridge.

DSC01577

Urban trail graffiti

We reached the 1914 Pittock Mansion, and walked around to the viewing areas…

DSC01578

Pittock Mansion

DSC01580DSC01582DSC01599DSC01606

Views from the property to the Cascade Mountains…

DSC01583

Mt Hood

DSC01586

Portland and Mt Hood

DSC01589

Mt St Helens

DSC01590

Mt Rainier beyond Mt St Helens

Returning back over the Barbara Walker Crossing…

DSC01612

1/12/2022 Eagles and snow near Lyle, WA – Our annual trip to see the eagles at the Balfour/Klickitat Preserve:

DSC01627

Calm Columbia River looking east from the Hood River Bridge.

DSC01635

Snowy ground near Coyote Wall.

We walked to the eagle viewing area near the mouth of the Klickitat River:

DSC01639

Osage oranges along the trail

DSC01647

Frozen lakeshore, eagle flying above the island

DSC01651

Eagle and ducks

DSC01665

Looking up Klickitat Canyon – white eagle heads in the trees

DSC01668

Bald Eagle

DSC01672

Bald eagle

DSC01655

We saw more than twenty today.

DSC01683

Looking south to Tom McCall Point.

Next we walked some of the trails at nearby Catherine Creek.

DSC01686

Snowy slopes at Catherine Creek

IMG_4863

Frozen Fairy Ponds

DSC01703

The arch

DSC01709

Mt Hood and the orchards of Mosier

DSC01690

Eastern Gorge

DSC01712

Grass widow foliage, but no blooms.

DSC01728

The waterfall.

1/18/2022 Swans at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, WA – We walked the 2.5 mile Oaks to Wetland Trail.

DSC01749

Swans in the distance, from the railroad bridge

DSC01773

Fungus

DSC01788

Belted kingfisher

DSC01804

Trumpeter swans

Then we drove the auto tour, looking for more swans.

DSC01809

Plenty of tundra and trumpeter swans in the northern lake…

DSC01822DSC01806DSC01808

DSC01834

American coot

DSC01837

Northern harrier next to the road.

1/28/2020 Chehalem Ridge Nature Park, OR – Our first visit to this new park south of Forest Grove. We walked almost six miles on the trails, quiet today with a few views of the distant mountains.

IMG_1813 (1)

Chehalem Ridge Nature Park

DSC01844

DSC01840

Mt St Helens and Mt Adams

DSC01845

Farmlands and Coast Range to the west

DSC01849

Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens

Neighborhood:

On our first sunny day, I went outside for what seemed like the first time in weeks, to see blue sky and low angle winter shadows:

1/16/2022 – Another sunny day, we met friends and walked a long loop on the hilly streets south of downtown Portland.

IMG_4922

Mt Hood from SW Portland

IMG_4929

Mt Hood and the Tilikum Bridge over the Willamette River

By the end of the month, viburnum and crocus were beginning to bloom…

Knitting:

I did get a lot of knitting done this month, since the outdoors were so inclement. And I am still meeting once or twice weekly with my knitting group over Zoom.

IMG_4803

Winding yarn on my new swift.

IMG_4980

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Shawl, in progress

IMG_4944

New pile of yarn from the guild to make hats for our service project.

IMG_4979

I used online tutorials to learn Tunisian crochet.

IMG_4870

I finished a languishing WIP – The Ella Improv Cowl, by Cecelia Campochiaro, using marling and sequence knitting techniques.

IMG_4823

A Gnoah gnome, (Imagined Landscapes), sent via Intergalactic Gnome Transport to the burgeoning colony in Washington DC.

Addenda:

IMG_4938

The volcano in Tonga!

IMG_7293

The snow in DC.

Other adventures – January 10th was the 4th anniversary of my pituitary surgery. With constant vigilance and good doctors, all my hormone levels are now within the normal range. I feel healthy and strong and grateful for early diagnosis and the miracles of modern medical science, especially the monthly injections that keep the acromegaly in check.

IMG_4774

On to February – pandemic numbers are going down in our neck of the woods – we may actually travel somewhere – stay tuned.