Day 10: Mt. Potts
We woke up this morning as soon as it was light enough out to get hiking. With coffee consumed and gaiters securely fastened, we used the key Brad gave us last night to open (and re-lock) the gate into the deer park behind the lodge, which is where we started on the trail to the Pyramid.
Pyramid Mountain lies to the north of Mt. Potts Lodge and rises to an elevation of 1748 meters (it is about 550 meters at the Lodge) with a snow-capped peak. The terrain below the peak is a series of ridges and drainage gullies that snake their way up the hills to 1000-1100 meters, supporting a full array of alpine bushes and grasses.
There were mixed reports on exactly how long the full hike would take, with Brad suggesting six hours, and another brochure mentioning eight. Either way, when we started we knew we probably didn’t have the full day needed for the whole enchilada. After putting in about two-and-a-half hours to reach the 1100-1200 meter range, we declared our own summit on the top of a ridge after navigating the first major rockfall with snow cover. We celebrated with peanut M&Ms and dried mangos. The view was tolerable.
Thanks to Mariko, we knew which plants to avoid while tramping through the unmarked terrain, and which plants were safe to step on. This came in handy when the alternatives were mud or ice. Of course, I still fell once on the ice, but that was pretty much expected.
We made it back to the lodge on schedule, stopped to check in with Brad, and drove a few minutes down the road to the trailhead for Mt. Sunday, our other planned hike for the day.
The purpose of hiking Mt. Sunday was, of course, the main reason we ventured to a backcountry station located in the upper reaches of the Rangitata Valley in the first place — to see the home of Edoras from LOTR. It was also a fun coincidence that we ended up hiking Mt. Sunday on a Sunday.
After having fun at the top of Mt. Sunday/Edoras, we hiked back down and returned to the Lodge. We packed up and make lunch in the kitchen. Today’s menu was tasty gourmet cheese omelettes paired with other random snacks we have been collecting (such as Amarreto shots, peach jello cups, and sour cream chips).
After saying goodbye to Brad, we got back on the road for a three-hour drive out of the high country. Next stop: Auckland!
Well, technically, the next stop was Christchurch airport, but that’s not very exciting. We waved goodbye to our trusty car at the airport, waited out a short flight delay on Air New Zealand, and eventually made our way via Super Shuttle to the Sky City Hotel in Auckland.
The big city hotel in Auckland is quite a change from the high country lodge we had to ourselves in Rohan last night! Looking forward to sleeping in and putting the espresso machine to work tomorrow whenever we get up.