Covered in deep snow, the track led up the Hooker Valley towards Aoraki/Mount Cook. It started by passing close to Freda’s Rock. It’s named after Emmeline Freda du Faur who was the first woman to climb Aoraki/Mount Cook. This amazing accomplishment she achieved in 1910 and remains forever immortalised in New Zealand mountaineering history. I happily followed the snowy path, kicking snow and trying to decide if it would be socially acceptable to throw snowballs at strangers when Mueller Glacier and the first swing bridge came into view. The path crossed the Hooker River and carried on to the second swing bridge.
It was somewhere between the Mueller Glacier and the second swing bridge that I suddenly had the overwhelming feeling that I might be getting sunburnt. I rummaged through my bag but soon realized that bringing sunblock really would have been a good idea. resigning myself to the fact that I was going to end up very burnt, I pushed on.
Passing the second bridge, the track opened to the wider valley floor, and even deeper snow until I arrived at the third swing bridge and headed for the glacier lake.
Upon arriving at my destination I came across a view that is pretty well unimprovable. Mountains, rocks, snow, ice, a glacier and lake in every direction. The last 20 meters of the track is a gentle incline until reaching the top of the path where it opens out to an amazing view of Aoraki/Mount Cook, Hooker Glacier and the Southern Alps. This is one of the beautiful things about Aotearoa, if you are prepared to walk then you’re in for some spectacular scenery.
I stood and daydreamed for a bit, ate my carefully packed sandwiches, explored the different vantage spots with my camera before turning my attention to the walk back. By this time, under the hot sun, the snowy track was turning to slush and I had 5km of splashing through puddles ahead of me.
Sometime later, upon my return, I fetched a Speight’s from my improvised ice bucket fashioned from rocks and snow and settled on my bed. My legs aching and my face burning, I started the process of uploading flash cards to my computer.