December 21, 2008 from Queenstown

written by bethany on December 27th, 2008 @ 04:32 AM

We woke up to beautiful sun this morning and a fabulous view from a room of downtown Queenstown and the lake. Such a change from yesterday! We had a wonderful breakfast with the other guests of the B&B, packed up day packs, and the headed out.

Bryan and I have been pondering our plans for the next few days. We are in the “Adventure Capital” and it seems only fitting that we consider an adrenaline activity or two. However, we haven’t really committed to anything. For one thing, the options are huge – paragliding, skydiving, bungy jumping (it is the home of the first bungy jump afterall), whitewater rafting, and onwards. Well we didn’t commit to anything today either so you must stay tuned. Will they or won’t they?

It was my original idea that tomorrow we would rent a car and drive up the West Coast for a couple of days to see the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers – two of the very few glaciers in the world which end in a rain forest. However, we have since decided to stay closer to Queenstown as we need to be back here to start the Routeburn Track, one of the great walks, on December 24th.

So today we took the Gondala up to about 400m above Queenstown, did a couple of luge runs down a concrete course, and then climbed a 1751m mountain, Ben Lomond! Just for reference, Queenstown is at around 350m above sea level. We did cheat the first bit as we took the Gondola up to about 750m and then started our climb from there. But regardless, it was quite the climb.

The path to the summit started out following an old gold mining path. It was steep in places and a little rocky and uneven. I had a hard time of it – I’m out-of-shape and don’t deal well with sun and heat – and I would have called it quits and turned around at a few places. However, Bryan was keen to make the summit and kept pushing on. After we reached a place called the Saddle, the path became steeper and rockier. We met a few people coming down who encouraged us to keep going saying the path got worse but the views were worth it. And after what seemed like a very long and arduous time, we did reach the summit. And yes the views from there, and indeed throughout the whole climb, were stunning. We took some pictures, called my parents, and then started the descent. Unfortunately, we started our trek later in the day and we realized we needed to keep pushing onwards to be able to get down before nightfall. We did figure that going down would be faster than going up – and it was but it was still slow and careful work. Plus my legs were a a little skakey from trying to stay under control. We were actually happy to see the odd climb on our descent. I was so happy to see the gondola and know that the last 450m down to Queenstown would not be under my power. As we had descended we looked back on the summit of Ben Lomond – I can’t quite believe that we made it to the top. The walk was listed as “hard and for the very fit”. Well I did the walk but don’t think that I will be applying for the “very fit” status yet. It is amazing what perseverance and a good pair of shoes can do.

So now I write and soon I will sleep.

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