„Getting out of your comfort zone“ – one of those cliché terms you read all over the place. Exactly this was something I had to convenience myself of doing that day I arrived in Arthur’s National Park. After more than 2 months of working in Kaikoura, I finally got a week off, which gave me the chance to do a roadtrip. I choose the Arthur’s Pass National Park in the northern part of the Southern Alps as my destination. Those rare days and weeks of exploring the country, enjoying the outdoors and making those experiences, were exactly the reason, why I came back to New Zealand.
Having arrived in the National Park, I asked the DoC for possible hikes where I could camp out. They advised me to go up Mt. Bealey. I had read about the hike. It was meant to be a more than two-hour, steep climb over slippery tree roots and rocks on a marked trail until finally arriving at the tree line on approx. 1300m above sea level. From thereon you had to make up your way to the summit on 1836m.
I hadn’t been out tramping since I came back from my roadtrip in the PNW. I got nervous about getting out there on my own. It took me a while to finally make my decision. All of the “carrying my heavy stuff” into an environment, where I am on my own, for an experience so unknown and impossible to influence. I finally decided to head off. It became clear to me, that I would deeply regret it if I stood in the valley watching an amazing sunset, that I could have seen from up the mountain. I headed off having a nervous feeling.
After around 3 hours I found my perfect camping spot somewhere in between the tree line and the mountain summit. The weather had been perfect. Blue sky, just some light clouds up there! I couldn’t wait for the sunset and I already pictured the light clouds to turn red!
Unfortunately that didn’t quiet happen! As I pitched up my tent, the clouds made their way over the mountains covering the whole valley. “Well that was it! I can’t change it”: I thought! Wallowing in self-pity, I cooked my Ramen, had diner and went to bed! A couple of glimpses out of my tent – it shouldn’t change.
I woke up at night – I think around 3 a.m. – under the sky! No more clouds were above me! Thousands of stars in the sky and, as if that wouldn’t have been good enough, there where some light clouds down in the valley above Arthurs Pass Village. I was stoked! I jumped out if my little coffin-kind-of-a-tent and started taking pictures. This was amazing! I must have had a big smile on my face – and that does not happen very often when I wake up at 3 a.m. in the morning.
The dawn was already breaking on the horizon and I couldn’t wait for the sun to go up. I set my alarm clock for 5 a.m.. As I woke up it hadn’t become worse. The clouds in the valley had condensed! The whole National Park was covered and I was above the cloud blanket. After taking probably 1 mil. pictures, I enjoyed my breakfast and made my way up to the summit. As I returned back to my camp, the clouds blanket broke up and made their way up the mountain back into the sky. It was spectacular! I saw the clouds passing by me, as I built down my tent.
Incredible how this trip turned out, since I had gone to bed the day before. And yes, this hadn’t definitely wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t started the trail, which I had struggled with so bad. And I know next time, I am going to have to make the decision of heading out on my own, these feelings and doubts are going to be there again. But I know that if I do not give it a shot, I won’t even get the chance of making those intense experiences that I will never forget in my life.