“What are men to rocks and mountains?” asks Elizabeth Bennet to her aunt, in Jane Austin’s novel Pride and Prejudice.
I have found myself asking this same question as I begin to explore the South Island of New Zealand. Never before have I been to a place of such beauty, danger and timelessness. These past two weeks I have found myself standing in front of mountains, feeling like the tiniest soul in the world. Who am I, to believe that I can climb these mountains and receive their gifts of endless views at the top? The mountain does not owe me anything; it is I who trespasses on their trails and through their wilderness.
And yet, the few places I have had the fortune of exploring have offered their trails to me and rewarded me with views that simply can’t be described. On a day trip to Arthur's Pass, I couldn't take my eyes off the surrounding scenery. Miles of hills were cast in a golden blanket of light as the sun rose to begin the day. The first few photos below try to capture the scenes visible from the winding roads to Arthur's Pass.
My first hike at Arthur's Pass took me to the end of Devil’s Punchbowl Lookout, where I saw a most magnificent waterfall. The pictures below attempt to preserve the waterfall’s beauty, but fail to capture both the feeling of mist from the falls landing on your skin and the overwhelming appreciation for what this trail had to offer.
My weekend concluded with first failure and then success. It was a day in which Avalanche Peak, in Arthur's Pass, was not welcoming to hikers, as the winds were too strong at the top of the peak. As disappointing as this was, our spirits were brightened as we learned of a new track to do in the area: Bealey’s Spur Track. Lower in elevation but longer in distance, this track was absolutely breathtaking. At one of the tallest points of the trail, and the best lookout point, I’ll let the below photos speak for themselves. It was a moment where you truly felt on top of the world, and that nothing could bring you back down.
It is such an honor to complete a tramping trip safely, and to be able to appreciate what the mountain has to offer on the journey up and down. I look forward to future tramps and adventures around New Zealand, but I will also never forget the ones I have already completed.
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<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:2.35pt; margin-right:12.3pt; margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin-left:5.0pt"><span style="line-height:115%">One fun fact about myself is that I am not sure the exact date of my birthday! Before I was adopted, I was a baby in China and my parents could not keep me because of the one child policy. Therefore, as was the way of many families in China in the 90s, I was left on the steps of the police station. When the police found me, they estimated my age. This estimate is the age on my birth certificate and on every official document. It is interesting to think about my birthday being one day before it is written, or maybe a few days after!</span></p>