We moved on from Rene and Leonie’s to WWOOF at another couple’s house for a few days. Their names were Charlie and Lynda and they owned a gorgeous historical homestead. They needed help with gardening and landscaping around their house. The work was tiring, but rewarding.
We spent our evenings talking about philosophical questions, such as “What is your definition of success?” Charlie said “Most people live their lives reloading their rifle, shooting, but never aiming. Define goals. What is the point of what you are doing?” Our conversations really made me think about things in a different way. On our last evening we sat around the fireplace and played music. It felt amazing to have a guitar in my hands once more. I sometimes forget how important it is for me to have music in my life. I need to find a guitar.
After Charlie and Lynda’s, we found some work at a winery to make some extra cash. During this time we stayed at a campsite on the beach. Our mornings started early, so I made sure to spend every morning eating breakfast on the beach and watching the sunrise. We spent a couple of days taking labels off of wine bottles, and popping open champagne bottles and dumping them into casks so the winery can re-bottle them. They apparently screwed something up and had to re-do them. I’m now a professional champagne opener. Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! I really appreciate having a college degree and the opportunity to have real jobs that aren’t monotonous after this experience!
Mount Robert Loop
During the weekends we have been going to Nelson Lakes National Park to do some exploring. The first weekend we hiked the Mount Robert Loop. It was raining when we arrived to the campsite, but it was a gentle rain. We noted how quiet and peaceful Nelson Lakes was.
The hike was about four hours and was rainy and wet, but totally worth it. The first half of the hike was a steep climb that brought you through the woods. The moss-covered, foggy forest looked like it was straight out of a fantasy novel.
At the top it was so foggy that you could barely see the trail markers in front of you. It was surreal.
On the way down it turned sunny at just the right moment and we got gorgeous views of the lake as the clouds were departing. The grass was bright yellow and shining from the rain, and the water was almost a sapphire-blue color when the sun briefly reflected off of it. The whole time we were commenting on how epic New Zealand is.
We met a lovely girl from Singapore named Michelle at the campsite we stayed at and she highly recommended us to hike to Lake Angelus. We also heard from another traveller, who hiked all the way across New Zealand, that Lake Angelus was a highlight of his trip. We decided to book the hike for Easter Weekend.
The first day of our hike started out gorgeous. It was almost too sunny and hot as we made our first climb up the mountain. The first climb was actually the same climb as we did the weekend before, but much more difficult because I had my monster pack on me instead of just my daypack.
After reaching the top of our climb we sat and had lunch before moving on to conquer the four-hour hike along Robert Ridge to reach Lake Angelus. While eating lunch I saw clouds forming in the mountains and hurried Luca up so we could get ahead of whatever weather was brewing. It just looked like a bit of rain, but I really didn’t want to get wet.
Luca said, “It looks like it might be a thunderstorm.” I told him to not joke about those kinds of things. He wasn’t joking. About an hour or so into our hike after our lunch break we felt a gust of wind. And then a few rain drops. Then a downpour. And shortly after hail starting pelting us. In the quick span that it took the weather to change, we managed to change into our rain gear and cover our bags. I thought that the storm would just pass over, but it kept going…and then there was thunder and lightening.
Being stuck in a thunderstorm on top of a mountain and without shelter is extremely dangerous, but my fear goes way further back to younger and more innocent days. I have been scared of thunderstorms since I was very young. I remember the times I dragged my parents down to the basement with me to hide during summer storms. Or the time I was at horse camp during a thunderstorm and hid under the picnic blankets in the indoor riding arena while everybody was trying to eat lunch. Even in my older age, I still get sick to my stomach and am grateful to have shelter every time a storm comes my way.
The path followed the ridgeline of the mountains, so we were literally the tallest objects standing for miles. I was terrified, to say the least. At one point Luca and I went a little down the side of the mountain and sat huddled next to a rock. But, the rain started to pour down on us and I got very cold. I was nervous about getting too cold and unable to move. A few hikers passed us and we saw how they were forging a path along the side of the mountain, as opposed to following the ridgeline. We followed them, finding the rough terrain to be very hard to navigate. It was inevitable that we would have to pass over the ridgeline again to continue towards our destination.
A big strike of lightening hit on the mountaintop ahead of us and I hurried forward, leaving Luca far behind. By the time I could even catch myself, he was screaming at me from behind and telling me to wait for him. I ducked down next to a rock and waited for him. When he caught up I got lectured about how we had to stick together, especially in this weather. It was understandable. I apologized and explained to him that I was just so terrified; I wanted to get out of there.
The hike felt like it continued forever. Just when you thought the storm passed, you would get slammed with more hail, or a bolt of lightening would strike in a place too close to you. I kept telling myself that it would all be okay and that we would get out of this soon enough. I dreamed about a warm cup of tea in the Lake Angelus Hut. But, I knew that it was really only luck that would get us through the storm. Being on top of a mountaintop in a thunderstorm was probably the worse place you could possibly be. Thoughts like, “But, I haven’t done everything that I wanted to do in life…I’m not ready yet,” kept going through my head. I thought of my family and friends, and Luca.
Just when I was about ready to lose it, we saw a sign saying, “Lake Angelus Hut – 30 minutes away.” My heart leaped and I about cried with gratitude. When we finally reached the hut, soaking wet, we were relieved to find that there was a fire blazing in the fireplace and our change of clothes managed to stay dry in our bags. Inside the hut, we shared stories with other hikers about their journey to Lake Angelus. Nobody was expecting the storm and only a few rain showers were on the forecast for that day. People told stories of their hair frizzing up and their metal water bottles making funny noises from the change in the atmosphere’s pressure. A lot of people threw down their metal hiking poles and ran. Some people said they saw sparks on the metal trail markers that aligned the mountain-ridge. I was just relieved to have gotten through the adventure and to have left with a good story to tell. But, I am about ready to have less adventurous days.
When the storm passed and the clouds cleared, the lake was just gorgeous.
We woke up the next day early and explored the lake Angelus area a little bit before heading back along the ridge. It made everything totally worth it.
We had the perfect weather for the hike back. Although, I have to admit that I was nervous every time I saw any signs of a weather pattern forming.
We had lunch on the highest part of the trail. “Who needs a restaurant with a good view when you can have this,” said Luca. I agreed. I looked over at the metal trail marker and remembered thinking, “This is the last place I want to be,” when we passed it the day before.
I really couldn’t get over the views. They were breath taking. I was just happy to be alive and well that day.