Sore legs Peak Oops I mean Avalanche Peak

As written by Julie (thanks for saving us so much time!) and edited for your reading leisure, pleasure and ease.

This past Friday (Feb 6) was Waitangi Day in NZ (celebration of the signing of NZ's founding document: the Treaty of Waitangi) which meant... long weekend! Add that to Julie's already long weekend (Hallelujah for having Mondays off), and you get a SUPER LONG WEEKEND FOR LOWELL AND JULIE!!

On Thursday night, Lowell and Julie flew to meet us and Gus (I like the easy rhyme there) in Christchurch (on the South Island).

While Julie curled up to have a snooze in the traveling bed (I cannot tell you how often we've been thankful for a vehicle with a bed), Marc drove. By midnight, we had arrived at our (rather rustic/unofficial) camping destination:

Prettier view than most campgrounds, but the toileting situation wasn't quite so convenient.

We rose with the sun on Saturday morning so we could head INTO Arthur's Pass (rather than sleeping directly outside it) and conquer the planned hike for the day: Avalanche Peak.

Before beginning the climb, we had brekky in a parking lot and had pity on a cute hobbling one-legged Kea bird (until it started eating the sealant off of Gus- then it was just an annoying hobbling one-legged Kea bird)...

And now for the hike. Look at us at the beginning of the hike. I'm all relaxed, enthusiastic, and snap-happy. My grump-o-meter was in the negatives. For now...

Lowell was also pretty excited:

(Jumping off of something was not an option at this point because that "something" would be a cliff.)

Elevation was gained very quickly on this hike, and the first "couples shot" opportunity presented itself within minutes.

This is me saying "WHAT AM I??!"
(The answer she was looking for was apparently "a dinosaur". Sad, isn't it? hehe)

(That was Julie's typing above. I knew exactly what I was, I was one of my former students impersonating a Terradactyl. I knew most of you could tell that but for the benefit of Julie I thought I would mention it.)

It was so cloudy outside that it appears as though Marc & Lowell are at the peak. HOWEVER, the ginormous cloud is covering the overwhelming steepness that was to come.

A lot of the trail was not so much a path as it was a giant cluster of ROCKS. Julie successfully completed a mini section of rock climbing ...

Lowell had a little fun with a Kea bird (this one was extra special... it had TWO legs!).

And Marc had fun photographing Lowell with the lucky two-legged Kea bird...

Throughout the hike, the peach sticks were our life line. Follow the peach sticks. ALWAYS FOLLOW THE PEACH STICKS. Either that, or walk off the edge of the earth.

While beautiful, this hike was also slightly depressing because of all the deceiving "peaks". We kept thinking we were climbing the main peak, then we'd get to the top and notice that a cloud was mostly covering the next "peak".

Climbing fake peak number 1:

Fake peak number 6. This was particularly depressing as I really thought I HAD reached the very top (and my grump-o-meter was also on the rise, good thing everyone else thinks I'm fun even when "grumpy")...

Marc & I walking a ridge between fake peaks... I think this is where I started having the very under-diagnosed shaky knee syndrome - affecting people at high altitudes on ledges when there are shear drop offs on either side. Solution - panic and grab your husband. Works every time!

After 3 hours of continual INCLINE, we finally arrived at the real peak (I think) :

Unforunately, the view (which was reportedly several beautiful peaks, valleys, and glaciers) was virtually non-existent. Oh wait, we had a lovely view of a big ol' cloud.

We started eating our lunch on the very tippy top of the mount, but it got REALLY cold REALLY fast, so we soon vacated.

And then came the decline. The brutal brutal 3.5 hour decline.

The brutally COLD (to start) and mainly STEEP 3.5 hour decline...

This is Julie in pain? Excited? Sneezing? Goofy? I couldn't tell you...

What Julie likes about the following picture is that we aren't posing in front of a pile of rocks... we are posing ON THE TRAIL!!

Li'l resty rest on the way down...

Getting closer to the bottom...

Marc assessing the look/feel of a completely ridiculous mustache:

By the time we reached the bottom, we had never been so happy to see a road. Julie's lips, in fact, carressed the glistening pavement with a gentle kiss, so happy was she to be reacquainted with it.

Julie and I could barely walk for the remainder of the weekend as muscles we didn't know we had were threating to jump right out of our legs, but we still managed to dig up plenty of fun and adventure. Luging? Check. River Surfing? Check. (For the three crazies, double points if you can guess who that is.) Hot Tubbing? Check. Bungy Jumping? CHECKITY CHECK CHECK CHECK!!! (Again, guess which three did this!!)

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