New Zealand 2011 trip, Day 28, Jan 30th: Mueller Hut & Omarama

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12:52am, Bus-cot backpackers, Omarama

Gear is strewn about the floor yet again in prep for the next trampů

Wendy woke me up ~6am, as lots of people were up and getting ready for sunrise viewing. The wind was still ferocious. I was tired, but got up anyway to check it out. The skies were mostly clear skies in the pre-dawn light. Soon the thin clouds got pink. I went out to the rocks in the wind, taking pics for a few minutes, and returned to the hut to start breakfast with Wendy. Then Mt Cook got lit with pink, so I had to go outside for more photos.


A picture out the window of the Mueller Hut. It was crazy windy out this morning...


Despite the wind, the beautiful pink skies forced me to go outside and take some pics...


Mt Cook is surrounded by pink clouds...


Looking back at Mueller Hut, and out at Mt Cook just after the sun rose...

Clouds were starting to form as we ate hot cereal, using the supplied gas stoves. We were anxious to leave early, before the forecasted a.m. drizzle. Wendy took some ibuprofen, and would have to go on with a sore knee. We loaded our packs (I carried everything, so Wendy could have a virtually empty pack), and ventured out into the wind torn rocky expanse below Mueller Hut.

The wind was powerful, with gusts that knocked us around, and made us stop to squat and lean into the gale winds. With my heavy pack, the wind still knocked me around, making it extra work to stay afoot, with what felt like a cannonball on my back. The forecast called for even stronger winds as the day went on, so we pushed on. The wind was at our back for the most part. My backpack straps acted like whips, smacking me in the face and eyes, due to the wind (until I tied them down).


Mt Cook was crafting some ominous strands of cloud, as the entire sky quickly clouded over. We battled the gale force winds, working our way down to the saddle...

After ~25 minutes of careful maneuvering, we reached the saddle, where the winds were at their peak force. We considered crawling in order to avoid being blown down the other side. I went first, and was able to walk while crouching and leaning back. The wind lessened a little on the other side, but still knocked us around at times on the loose decent. Overall, it was perhaps the fiercest wind I've encountered on a climb.

The rest of the descent was steep, and Wendy did well given her bruise. The sky completely clouded over, and soon started misting, reducing all views of the glacier and Mt Cook to nothing. That helped keep our focus on the ground. It was slow going, and there were a few drops of precipitation that didn't pose any threat, but we made it back ~11am, in 3.5hrs.


Having successfully escaped the tremendously windy saddle, we worked our way down the 3000' descent...


The wind was creating bizarre clouds. Wendy hobbled down the trail, basically lowering her self down by one leg the entire way...

We stopped at the DOC to report our return (as is protocol), and spent some time in the impressive museum / visitor's center. We watched a 45 minute video on search and rescue at Mt Cook too, that was very entertaining and scenic.

Then we stopped by the YHA we stayed at the night before to pick up some food we lhad eft in the fridge while at Mueller hut, before driving south 83km towards our hostel for the night. No views of Mt Cook during the drive out.

Stopped at Twizel for lunch at a take-a-way eatery. Seafood platter (fried, with chips), and a cheeseburger. So-so. This was the biggest town we'd hit today, so we loaded up at the grocery store with food for dinner tonight, and filled up the tank, before heading to our hostel, Bus-cut in Omarama.


Poor Wendy and her boo-boo. A take-away burger is a good way to cheer up...

This backpackers is on a huge sheep farm. The owner runs the place, and also won a NZ award for his Merino Sheep breeds. The place is a big old fashioned looking house, with a modern kitchen. Our room has 4 beds, and is huge. We went for a walk behind the house to view some sheep.


Our backpackers hostel, Bus-cot, was the part of an award-winning merino sheep farm...


Our room was huge, with 4 beds, and tons of floor-space. A great deal! We took a walk on the farm to find some sheep...


One particular lamb (we later learned it was named Anne), was particularly playful...


We followed an irrigation ditch for quite awhile, before finding the herd in a field...


A look back at the farmland...

Then we drove into town, where we opted to try a hot spa. $60NZ for unlimited private spa. Pure fresh water, great views, with a wood burning heater. Spent ~80 minutes. Half way into the bath, the sun came out.


Didn't plan on a spa today, but there wasn't much else going on in the tiny town of Omarama, so we decided to take a bath...

Then back to hostel for dinner: rosemary mint lamb (pre-marinated), stir-fry beef steaks, salad, yams. Excellent quality meal! Some nectarines and cereal for dessert.


A much more attractive picture of our backpackers hostel, Bus-cot, in the evening sunlight...


Wendy hangs up some laundry on the clothes line. Rosemary mint lamb for dinner was great!

Even though we just finished a tramp, it was time to re-sort our gear from the Mueller Hut hike and prepare for the Routeburn track in 2 days. You'd think we have the system down now, after 2 tramps, but we were still trying to figure out our food strategies. Our room is so huge that it actually makes it look like we aren't up to our ears in gear!

It's raining out now, but the sun emerged for a beautiful sunset earlier this evening.

8:30am alarm. Back to Queenstown tomorrow.

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