Ice Crystals on Crichton – Mt Crichton Loop Track

“On a Mish” #355 Ice Crystals on Crichton. Mt Crichton Loop Track. Lake Wakatipu. 28.6.2010. When visiting Tahuna / Queenstown it is important to pack your hiking boots. Many travel south from all over the world to enjoy one of New Zealand’s most frequently visited locations. Not only do you get world class views from the famous alpine town, but also the hiking trails in the area are definitely worth a visit. Many trails start directly from the town, such as Queenstown Hill and Ben Lomand, both worth the effort…

If you have access to a vehicle then your world becomes much larger, and this means you can head up the road towards Glenorchy and go on a mish on the Mt Crichton Loop Track…

Seasonal living means downtime both before and after each winter / summer, and this is when I would go on many missions. One day in the early part of the 2010 winter I had some spare time and itchy feet. A quick browse of the map reminded me of the loop track at the Base of Mt Crichton(1873m), a track I had walked a couple of times during the summer but never in winter. Knowing that snow was going to fall overnight I prepped my kit the night before, knowing that an early-ish start was going to be needed to make the most of the fresh snow.

The drive to the start of the track was slow and careful. The forecast was spot on and the roads glistened with a layer of ice, making driving conditions interesting. Due to the dusting of fresh powder I knew I was the first and only person on the track at that stage as my tyres rolled their way through the fresh dusting of natural icing sugar. With my breath thick in the air it was time for an icy adventure.

Crunching through snow is an awesome way to warm up, and one of the greatest feelings I know of. Knowing our weak human bodies are not designed to survive in temperatures below zero, and then wrapping up warm in good gear and tackling the harsh environment head on is a challenge I love!

Sam Summers Hut

The snow caused the trees to hang low over the track and in places I would push some of the snow off, which then made the branch fling up into the air flicking the remaining snow off like a sling-shot. The forest was like this all the way to the historic Sam Summers Hut. The small rock hut really reminds you of the harsh conditions faced by the early settlers in the area back in the 1800s.

After the hut the track climbs to its highpoint with views of not only Lake Wakatipu, but also Lake Dispute in its deep trench hidden amongst the mountains. After seeing Lake Dispute I followed the track back down to the bridge back across Few Creek, and after a couple of excellent hours the loop was over.

I highly recommend the Mt Crichton Loop track at any time of the year, the snow was a great way to make an awesome place even better, but it did make for a chilly start!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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