Barely Made it to Bealey (Part Two) – Upper Bealey Valley Camp

“On a Mish” #361 Barely Made it to Bealey (Part Two). Bealey Valley. Arthurs Pass National Park. 31.12.2022. I am sure there are some people who, after getting Covid and then getting over Covid, went out on a mish only to find that their energy reserves were much lower than expected. You feel fine, start doing something and immediately feel like you have run a marathon. After a long time not going on any ‘proper’ hiking trips I shouldered a camping pack for the first time in a long time and hoped that I wouldn’t get three steps into my journey and, like with Covid, run / limp out of steam…

After locking up my car at the car park not far from Arthurs Pass Village and Pass itself, I threw my pack onto my back and began the ‘30 minute’ walk to the end of the track. I could instantly tell that the hike was going to be a struggle and I began to have my doubts about the ambitious adventure I had chosen for the last day of 2022.

Last of the Sun’s rays for 2022

I got about five minutes into the trip and had to stop and readjust my pack and have a water break. As I stood in discomfort I caught a glimpse of Mt Rolleston’s Low Peak which dominates the head of the upper Bealey Valley, and this gave me some much needed motivation to keep going. The massive rock spike stood tallest at the head of the short and dramatic valley, and you can easily tell why this mighty mountain was one of the first to be scaled and still brings many mountaineers from all over the world to the area.

The afternoon was a hot one and I was happy to be in the shade of the beech forest as I slowly clambered my way up the well beaten track. Sections of boardwalk made for easy progress, and the odd view of the mountains kept my motivation and legs moving. I stopped on a couple of occasions and the time kept ticking on. I very quickly realised my hiking time was going to be a lot slower than the times advertised.

I got to a point where the boardwalks ended and the track became more of a backcountry trail and my pace slowed to a crawl. The undulation of the trail meant I had to be very careful as a missed step could result in a nasty fall. My hip pain made me stop in a few places and each time I could look around at the location and remind myself there was going to be a reward for the struggle.

The 30 minute journey took me just over an hour, but even if it took all day, getting to the top of the valley was worth every single stinging step…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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