About 20 years ago, Shawn bought this wonderful wool shirt from Pendleton that has kept him warm through many a cold trip. He lost this shirt, his lucky shirt.
NZ loves dirt roads and today’s trip was one of my favorite ones. It was a 45-minute car ride to get to the trailhead, most of it on a dirt road, and the going was slow. However, that is a good thing as it was a beautiful drive along a river with the usual livestock of sheep and cows. I do feel that by finding these out-of-the-way trailheads you get a true glimpse of not only New Zealand but life as it has been for hundreds of years. We are in the Rob Roy Valley in Mt. Aspiring National Park about to embark on a 3-4 hour return hike that takes us above the tree line close to a glacier.
The path from the car to the bridge takes through a cow/sheep field. On the way to the top, there were no animals. On the way back, they were everywhere! I like the farmlands here and appreciate what they do, but I could not live such a remote life.
We finally reach the trail, which begins at a bridge. I do like that we are the only ones around and we can take our time crossing and I do not have to worry about too many people on the bridge!
The trail is steep in some parts and had been rerouted up some stairs due to an avalanche. There is one section of the trail that has a sign that tells you no stopping. I have never seen that before! Now I am wondering about that Kiwi 3-4 hour return time.
At the first lookout, we took a break for some oranges and we sat with a family with 2 young kids they were carrying up in backpacks and a group of young girls. Had a nice chat with them and learned they were from Australia when suddenly Shawn asked me where his shirt was. He had taken it off during the climb and attached it to the back of my pack. We checked inside the pack as well, but it was not there. One of the girls had said they saw it on a tree about 10 minutes back down. The problem is we are already 2/3 of the way up so, we head on up and enjoy the cool views of the glacier thinking we can catch the shirt on the way down.
Stepping up above the tree line, you arrive at a rocky hill with the glaciers hanging over you, looking like they will fall at any moment. There are so many cracks and crevices in them you wonder what makes them cling to the rocks, hanging on for dear life, knowing that if they fall, they will melt away into a waterfall, traveling so far from home.
I decided to head back down ahead of Shawn and we would meet up at the tree where his shirt was if I found it. Everyone that I passed was asked if they had seen a shirt on the trail and so far, no one had. After going up and down the stairs (!) I met up with a party of 4 that seemed to have one person energetically bounding up the stairs while the rest were looking weary. I asked if they had seen the shirt and Mr. Bounder said he had seen it on the sign after the swing bring. Yay! A sighting! His wife asked me how far to the top and if they could make it there and back again by dark. I said that yes, it was possible as the trail becomes a bit easier after the stairs. She sighed mightily in relief. I shared her pain. I did ask Mr. Bounder if he could tell Shawn his shirt is at the bridge and that his wife was waiting at the end of the stairs. He said no problem and continued bounding while the rest of his party slogged after him.
Shawn was only about 10 minutes behind me, which was fine as my bird friend had left and I was starting to get a chill. The sun likes to hide behind the mountains and take all his warmth with him. We continued on another half hour until the bridge was sited. In the distance, on the other side, was….the shirt! Yay! However, as we started to cross the bridge, there was a guy by the shirt, eyeing it. Hmmm….I am prepared to run across this swinging bridge if that guy takes one more step towards it! He must have felt the go-away vibes as he left it and went on. Shawn grabbed his shirt and put it on. All is well again.