After trawling through Instagram for our next hike adventure I came across Mt Alfred in Glenorchy. The view from the top looked like somewhere I needed to experience. Sometimes before doing these hikes I like to read about other peoples experiences to get myself psyched up. I couldn’t find any blog posts, only the official info on the DOC site which recommended proper hiking equipment and a time of 6-8 hours return so we knew we were in for a good one.
The drive out to Glenorchy is a little adventure in itself and such a beautiful drive. The road is called the road to Paradise as Paradise is a location in Glenorchy, for all the Lord of the Rings buff’s out there it plays home to the scene of Gandalf riding to Isengard on Shadowfax. After driving past the car park (sorry I was in charge of directions again) we pulled up next to one other car, we were there pretty early so the other hikers must of been in for a sunrise hike. We set off into the dense forest, Frodo and Sam Wise eat your heart out, this is what I would call real Middle Earth. The path wound up and up zigzagging the whole way to the top.
It had rained the day before so most of the track was slippy which then led to a few bails from me. We don’t hike in hiking boots and we don’t own poles so it’s no surprise when we have the odd fall. For three quarters of this track you are in the native beech forest, it was never ending, we couldn’t see the sky for most of it so we didn’t know how much further we had to go. The sunrise trekkers passed us around half way up and advised us we had a good old slog to go, offering to fill up our water bottles and giving us a little motivation they carried on down. I honestly thought this one was going to defeat us and we wouldn’t make it to the summit.
BUT the sky appeared and the track seemed to get a little steeper, it felt like we were climbing several staircases. The last of the orange markers pointed us to the end of the bush line and we could see day light once more. Now to get to the top, maybe the is why people use poles. It turned steep and exposed, the rocks were loose and the tussocks provided me with the support I needed when I couldn’t physically lift myself to the next rock. Robbie had darted ahead and I was too busy concentrating on where to put my foot so it was safe when I saw his head pop over the edge… he had somehow already climbed the rock face, right I am coming for you! A few more big steps and a final scramble and my feet were firmly on the top of Mt Alfred.
WOW the view was unbelievable, there was some bad weather coming in from Fiordland and we were getting a tad damp while I quickly took as many photos as I could. The GoPro decided to pack in at the top and my camera was still in the post so I had to just use my phone, which is disappointing but the end result I was pretty happy with. I had to get my shot with my arms flung out looking out on to whats below.. Someone said to me recently, Do you just climb mountains and take pictures with your arms out? Yes my answer is YES I do, I don’t think there is any finer feeling than standing on the top of a mountain you just hiked up, nearly given up getting there and throwing your arms out, for me its my sense of accomplishment.
Robbie was brave enough to play near the edge but the wind was too much for me so I stayed safely in the middle. As Glenorchy is the mouth of Lake Wakatipu you can see it being fed from the Dart River, the view was beautiful but my god it was cold. We decided it was far too windy to eat our lunch up there so we decided to head down and eat it in the car. As it was my birthday we had bought some fancy cheese and other picnic necessities and I wasn’t going to sacrifice my crackers to the wind today! Now knowing how hard it was for us to get up there I was really weary and scared to get down the first bit, the rocks were so loose and where to put your feet was sometimes sketchy so I went down most of the way on my bum, using my hands and anything else I could grab hold of the slow me down. There was a rainbow appearing in the distance and the views on the way down were equally as inspiring as the accent. I was one happy tramper. When we reached the bush line again I was on the hunt for a stick to help me down some of the muddy slopes under the bush but we couldn’t find one big enough for me and the rain seemed to be getting heavier. I only fell ONCE much to Robbie’s amusement and it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated.
We passed fellow hikers on the way down who all looked a little worse for wear and everyone asked us “how much further” I always give a super positive reply and wish them a happy hike! Back at the car we were on the hunt for coffee, we stopped at Mrs Wooly’s general store in Glenorchy which is the local market/book shop/sports shop and cafe. We then found a nice place to eat our gourmet picnic by the lake and rest our sore limbs. Another successful hike ticked off the list.