The pain and the reward of the trail is a funny thing. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if there’s a view at the top, the climb is worth it. It’s even better if you can actually see the top while you climb, just so you get an idea of how far you still have to go.
We climbed two big, steep climbs, Travers Saddle and Waiau Pass, on consecutive days. In between, we were rewarded by passing by Blue Lake and Lake Constance.
We arrived at the bowl below Travers Saddle surrounded by scree covered ascents. We looked up, wondering which one we would have to climb.
"Hm, this doesn't look easy..."
We followed a series of poles up and up, bypassing many ‘fake’ saddles, each time thinking we had reached the top. Finally, we peaked where we had lunch with an amazing view.
We then descended down to Blue Lake, the clearest lake in the world, as stated on the sign post (and verified on Google). It was blue green and incredibly clear. We jumped in, then jumped out because the lake was between 3 and 8 degrees C.
We have about a million photos of this lake, but here are two:
The next morning, we started up to Lake Constance. It was a bit strange and put us in a pensive mood since a Te Araroa hiker died here 2 months ago, during a white out. We had no issue navigating the boulders since we had a beautiful, sunny day. The lake was still as a mirror and the mountains were reflected in the water.
Then, the climb. Waiau Pass is a 500m climb over 1km up to 1870m, making it the steepest and hardest climb we’ve done so far. Straight up the tussock and rock face, we gingerly made our way up. Mike blasted his way up there in no time, his strong and long legs propelling him. I met him at the top and we enjoyed the views. Luckily, a fellow TA hiker, Peter, was with us to grab a picture.
And the story isn’t done yet. There was still the descent.
Notice the orange marker (it’s small). Yes, this is our trail.
But it’s absolutely amazing.
Z, February 21st, 2014