Given what I know now, the activities of yesterday might have not been the greatest of great ideas.
No, that’s not true. It was totally worth it. It just happens that right now I’m hobbling around with the worst case of DOMS that I’ve had since my first Big Ditch R2R2R with Megan back in April.
But there are big mountains here. And for me, the best way to explore big mountains is on foot. I just haven’t really been exploring enough on foot to be prepared to do a lot of vert at a moments notice.
After a morning of realizing that the Queenstown library didn’t have unlimited internet (only 30 minutes per device) which led to coffee and pastries at a coffee shop that did have free unlimited internet (which I know, technically isn’t free because we had to buy something, but at least this way we got internet AND coffee!), I decided to undertake a 15 mile run around a smaller mountain. The entire morning had been cloudy and rainy, and while I really wanted to get up Ben Lemond mountain, per recommendation from the mountain biker we met on the Old Ghost Road, I didn’t want to climb a giant peak only to see clouds. It would have to wait for better weather.
I started up from the base of the gondola, very quickly discovering that the trails in Queenstown weren’t any less steep than any of the other trails in New Zealand. I made it to the top of the gondola without too much issue and proceeded to enjoy the people watching while I tried to find the continuation of my trail.
It was a funny combination of DH bike riders, sightseeing tourists, and alpine slide/go cart riders.
It felt good to be back in the woods again, and soon I was out from the trees.
Then the low clouds started to clear, and I started getting glimpses of Ben Lemond Peak. Could it be? Could the clouds clear enough for a view?
They did! They did! By the time I got to the saddle, I had the confidence that I’d be able to see something from the top, so up I went. Two Kea birds and a handful of people were already at the top. The Keas, mountain parrots, are known for loving to get into peoples’ stuff. Think Gray Jays of the West…but bigger.
And apparently they like to eat rubber off of tires and the leather off of seats. I’ve heard stories of one bird distracting a group by posing, and the other bird getting into cookies.
I kept my food close on my back.
Then it was time to go down. It dropped 5,000 feet in five miles. That’s the vertical of the south rim of the Big Ditch in two less miles. I didn’t really realize how far I had gone up. I did, near the end, realize that my legs were getting solidly tired.
When I woke up in the middle of the night and flexed my quads, I had to groan. Really, did I do such a great job of being stupid?
Apparently I did, but it was totally worth the views from the top.