Big Backyard (Part Three) – Mt Hodgkinson(1486m).

“On a Mish” #12 Big Backyard (Part Three) Mt Hodgkinson(1486m). Hoophorn Valley. Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park. 22.1.2015. Playtime for me as a kid was thousands of hours in my backyard. I would have explored every square inch over and over again in preparation for the times Wilson Whanau would go on adventures. As I have grown up my backyard has changed many times. While some have been small others have been big, and when I say big…

I had climbed my way up to the top of the rocky gut that separates Mt Hodgkinson and Mt Edgar Thomson and could now look down into both the Hoophorn Valley and also the Birch Hill Stream Valley. Above the Hoophorn Valley stood the Hoophorn Spur and then towering above that was mighty Aoraki Mt Cook looking pristine and its glacial covered southface had a sparkling afternoon sheen. I quickly worked out that the Hodgkinson Ridge would give me even better views so after a quick drink I continued on my mish.

From the valleys a lot of the mountains in the Aoraki Mt Cook area look like solid blocks of ice reaching towards the sky in a never ending quest to get to the clouds. However the opposite is found when clambering around the tops in New Zealand’s most mountainous national park. I wanted to go fast but the loose rock made me move slowly and carefully. Every now and then I would dislodge some rock and this would break the silence and also show me what it would look like if I rushed and made a mistake while wandering the ridge.

A day that started with the disappointment of a cancellation had turned into a successful summit day. From the top of Mt Hodgkinson I could see up and down the Tasman Valley including the glacial lakes that feed the many braids of the Tasman River. The braids then flowed into the turquoise green waters of Lake Pukaki. Above the many bodies of water were wild heights of New Zealand’s biggest peaks. I could have stayed up there for eternity but of course reality told me otherwise and I also knew I hadn’t set up my temporary home yet down in the Hoophorn Valley.

On the return journey along the ridge I could move slightly faster as I now knew the way, but this didn’t mean I could switch off as the drops on either side of the ridge were no less dangerous. Within a couple of hours I had gone from the exposure of the tops to the inclosure of the Hoophorn Valley. It was time to relax.

After setting up my camp I watched the sun strike Mt Sealy for the last time and then everything went dark apart from the stunning array of stars in the sky. Early-ish the next morning I had to be up and away as I had to get back to my flat then showered and ready to start guiding by mid morning. I packed my damp tent into my pack then pressed on back to my van pleased with the pleasure I had found in my big backyard. The disappointment of a cancellation had turned into the elation of an excellent mish!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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