by Lindsay and Alexis Ravenscroft
We’ve always felt the world was ours to explore. We’ve traveled both near and far, but found ourselves happiest when immersed in a sea of snowcapped mountains and frosted valley floors. There’s something invigorating about the crisp, cool mountain air, almost as if each breath awakens your inner spirit and soul. One place that gave us that very feeling was Hooker Valley in Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand. Here is where we enjoyed a day of trekking through fresh snowfall in some of the world’s most beautiful, mountainous terrain. And we can’t wait to share our experience with you. You see, nature for us has always felt like home, so opting for a hike has always been our go-to for truly understanding a place’s natural environment and seeing it in its purest form. Knowing this, we could not wait to begin our trek through this magical national park known for its alluring, rugged, snowcapped Southern Alps.
Hooker Valley is one of the most popular day hiking trails available in this particular area, so we opted for an early departure to ensure complete isolation as we took in the sights and sounds of our 11-kilometer journey. As we began our hike, a large valley filled with lush green grass and frost covered flowers greeted us from the previous night’s snow. We wound through Mount Cook’s valley floor on wooden paths and light-colored gravel for miles, where we then encountered a series of swing bridges that were engineering masterpieces in and of themselves. The swing bridges enabled us to safely cross the rapids of the Hooker Valley River below.
As we continued, you couldn’t help but notice the valley floor was framed with steep, mountainous ridges at every turn. It was a delight to our eyes. As we forged ahead, the trail led us upstream alongside the river to cross our third and final swing bridge leading us towards the infamous Hooker Lake. Finally, we could see in the distance our end destination: Hooker Glacier with the beautiful Hooker Lake at its base below. We were at a loss for words. There, in the stillness before us lied a beautiful bright blue lake with numerous icebergs and a massive glacier peacefully resting in the backdrop. We had made it.
We stood there in awe of the beauty engulfing us whole. We knew Mount Cook was beyond the lake, but unfortunately, it was hidden by a foggy haze. We hoped the weather would clear but the fog was just too thick to pierce. Grateful for what we had still at least seen and with smiles from ear to ear, we began our decent leaving the mountain and its historic glacier behind. The following morning, we had plans to depart bright and early for Queenstown, but had overheard rumors that the weather might clear. We were hoping the whispers of sunshine were true, since the visual of the iconic Mount Cook was still a mystery to us. And to our greatest surprise, as we awoke to pack up and leave, there she stood in all her glory from our hotel window. It was the perfect ending to a perfect trip. We left with our hearts full and overjoyed by what we had seen, counting the days until we could one day return.
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