After doing the Milford Track and French Ridge, we decided to do something a little less popular. Mount Brown Hut was in order.
The weather finally cleared up in the morning
The trek was wet enough to scare away other hikers, but not wet enough to require a raincoat. The second we marched our way into the clouds, we felt the solitude.
The march up was all clouds
When we arrived, we were greeted with an empty hut and a cold coal stove. We wanted it on, but weren’t sure how to start it without using up all the kindling. I ended up warming up coals on the stove we brought. After about 30 minutes of warming up coals, we had enough to start a nice warm fire.
Coal fired stove
We cozied up to the stove while we played cards before checking out for the night. The next morning the clouds parted to reveal an amazing view of the valley and Mountain Range.
A grand view
While packing up to leave, we were visited by our first bird friend in NZ, the weka!
A curious weka
This little guy was obviously looking for some handouts, but we would not be swayed.
Hiking down from Mount Brown
I’d definitely recommend Mount Brown for other NZ trekkers. It’s only a day hike, it’s solitary, it has great views, and it has a sweet coal fired stove.
Finally, day that has gone according to plan! We started bright and early at 6:30am. By 9 we were disembarking from the boat next to the glacier.While it has receded quite a bit, we had fun time scrambling over glacially scarred rocks to get to it. As far as glaciers go, this one’s a monster. Clocking in at 40km long and 5km wide, we were treated with quite the spectacle.
View of the glacier at the beginning of the hike
The jagged surface is covered in pulverized rock, giving the top layer a dirty look. As we navigated around the crevasses that define its features, we took great care not to fall into one of them, as their depths could easily reach 40 feet. Melting ice formed tiny glacial ponds within some of them, increasing the incentive to not fall in.
Exploring the glacier
But therein lied the challenge. We picked a spot, buckled in, and proceeded to rappel into the glacier.
This is harder than it looks
Let me tell you it felt really good to finally be able to use our ice climbing skills we practiced up in Minnesota. But more importantly, it was amazing to be 40 feet under the surface, hovering over a ice pool, surrounded by the most perfectly dazzling blue ice I’ve ever seen in my life. Take a look for yourselves.
It was a beautiful experience, with just enough exertion to add a feeling of accomplishment.
After we arrived in Japan, I bought myself a b-mobile SIM card to put into my iPad Air 2. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it to work despite following their directions. After attempting to find a solution online and failing (gasp!), I started to mess around with the settings until I got it working. Turns out you only need to do one extra thing: change the carrier to NTT DoCoMo.
Here’s how you do it:
Step 0: Make sure you’ve followed b-mobile’s steps to get your SIM activated and your iPad/iPhone ready.
Go to Settings
On the left hand pane, select the “Carrier” category
On the right hand pane, switch “Automatic” to off
After a few seconds, a list of carriers should pop up
Select “NTT DOCOMO”
Restart your iPad/iPhone
This probably works since b-mobile is an NTT DoCoMo MVNO. An MVNO is a virtual carrier that doesn’t have their own towers. Rather, they just buy the ability to piggyback off of other carrier’s towers. That’s probably why changing this setting gets the b-mobile SIM working on iOS. I’m not sure why it broke in the first place, but I’m sure it has to do with the iOS 10 update.
Hopefully this will help prevent someone from tearing out their hair.
Went to Crater Lake. Even at this time of year, everything is covered in snow. Apparently they regularly get 40ft of snow during the winter! It shows, as the road around the crater is lined with 20ft snow walls. They snow plowed through that!
On topic. Crater Lake is a rainwater lake set in a huge collapsed volcano. On the lake’s edge is an island made of the volcano’s cinder cone. Trees and other vegetation made it from the crater’s edge to the island somehow. The water, consisting of only rainwater and held in by mostly rock, is a beautiful clear blue. So clear and blue, in-fact, that if you were to look at the water with your hand hiding the sky, you could convince yourself that the lake was the sky.
Mary suggested we take our lawn chairs, as well as which spot we should go. We managed to steal away to a secluded, unpopulated ledge overlooking the lake. It was off the road, requiring a slight uphill trek in the snow to access, making it too troublesome for 90% of the general public to bother with. For our troubles, we were awarded with a spectacular, unfettered view of the lake. Jacqueline and Mary set up the chairs and cracked into two beers while I shimmied my way to a buttress with a better view.
Rainy day in Redding. Very lazy, somewhat depressing. We went to the Redding Rodeo to spice up our day. Got some “Kurly fries” (peeled with a power tool), Coors lite, and sat down on the wet seats hoping for some fun. Redding did not disappoint! There was some lasso hog tying, barrel racing, and bull riding (of course). The festive and relaxed atmosphere totally cheered us up and we left feeling very refreshed. Day successfully salvaged!
Hit up this awesome place called Mt. Lassen Art Center near Lassen National Park. It offers free painting by giving us the paints, brushes, and paper canvas we need to embarrass ourselves. The host (Luke) was amazing. He teaches art, he hauls his equipment all over the world and paints on the scene, and he hosts art events for thousands of people. He set us up with the free materials, gave us some tips on using our pallets, and turned us loose. To keep us warm in the rain, he went ahead and cooked us some chunky soup and handed us chips to dip (what a pal!) I painted a concept for a new logo for this website, Mary painted some redwoods and something dark and creepy (Slenderman?), and Jaqueline painted some fun, happy, and fabulous mountains. Luke then handed us some parsley for the road (STAHP! You’re making me feel bad for not paying you anything!) and headed out.
We then went to a winery to check out a free tasting. This place not only had a free tasting, they also had the Mayor making pizza for donations! We tasted 5 wines, had fun listening to the bartender’s stories(sorry I can’t remember them right now, you know, State Dependent Memory and all) and ate great fresh made basil, salami, green pepper, and onion pizza, all from scratch! We thanked the Mayor Lawless(actual name) and gave him the donations he bribed us for. We then wished him luck in the donation race against his opponent, the town sheriff(I’m not making this up).
Full disclosure, the position of Mayor was an honorary one, and the donation money went to local non-profits.
That night we went to a Red Lion in and took to the warmest outdoor pool I’ve ever swam in. We then compared buoyancies and underwater flips. I did a double underwater flip (I’m not making that up). Yeah, your heard that right, not one, but two flips while underwater.
Went to Steve’s ATVs and rented one. Then we proceeded to TEAR UP THE DUNES! Yes, there are dunes in Oregon. I don’t know why. Anyway, movies incoming… as soon as I get to a hotel with half-decent wifi.
Speaking of hotels, this one has the same curtains as our van.