Hard yakka hike

We returned home yesterday afternoon from Mount Cook National Park. My thighs are on fire this morning. We hiked from Hooker Lake campground to Mueller Hut and then back down the next morning.
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I wasn’t looking forward to the hiking part- a straight up and straight down route- but views from Mueller Hut were touted to be spectacular. How hard could it be? How about 1,874 steps hard – and that’s just to the halfway point.
DSC01502 (768x1024)DSC01623 (768x1024) Talk about stair mastering- with a backpack. It’s so steep that the first half of the hike is all stairs built into the side of a mountain. Views along the way prod hikers to the next flight.
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This photo was taken at the halfway mark and don’t let my smile fool you. I was whipped. (I think I was smiling because I had just spotted a couple skinny-dipping in the small tarn to my right.)

The next half might better be described as ‘hike from hell’. Where was the path? Just orange poles stuck between rock rubble. Pick your way. Can you find Mueller Hut in this picture?
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A ‘cuppa’ revived us enough to start enjoying views from the hut.

Father daughter time

Father daughter time

Behind this father and daughter is Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak. Today it stands at 3,724 meters. Once taller, a 1991 cascade of tumbling rock and ice sheared 40 meters off the top. Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Mt. Cook in 1948, practice for his historic 1953 climb of Mt. Everest.

Our hut dinner did not compare with this group of young Israelis who told me they didn’t mind if I took pictures of their feast. (My mouth was watering!)
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After dinner: a trip to the loo and front porch conversations.
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Mueller Hut in the gloaming:
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The light was beautiful in the morning and we had a visit from a loud-mouth kea, New Z’s alpine parrot.
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Time to retrace our steps and head home.
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A closing view of Mt. Cook:
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