Bright and early before the sunrise, four of us headed up to hike the Ben Lomond Summit. The trek is one of the longer hikes near Queenstown. Brittany, Emily, Maria S. and I started through the first hour climbing over large rocks in our steep path and began questioning what we were getting ourselves into. Then the trail changed into a new two hour hike farther through shrubs and clouds to reach the saddle of the mountain. We could not see much while in the clouds which contributed to the group’s low morale. Nearly the moment we reached the saddle, the clouds were completely below us and the summit peak was visible. The sky was bright blue above us and every direction we turned there were various mountain peaks. The clouds had hidden the peaks from the town below all week and it was our first glimpse at the extensive mountain ranges around Queenstown. The view was amazing above the clouds and we took the time to sit, eat our packed lunches and take it all in. Though our bodies were sore, we had a new motivation to continue the next hour and a half to the summit. This part of the climb was more vertical and required extra focus with frequent stops for water. The summit had snow patches everywhere a and a monument at the top showing the countries in each direction. The 360 view was breath taking and the joy of completing the climb was very rewarding. After our time and endless photos from the top, we began our trek down with aching knees. We met Chandaly, Maggie and Lexi at the saddle and they joined us in our hike down to meet the rest of our group in time for dinner.
But was that enough hiking for us? Nope. We decided after dinner to re-hike the climb to the saddle at night to view the stars from above the clouds. Brittany, Chandaly, Taylor, Lexi and I began the second trip up the mountain with flashlights to guide the way. It was well worth it. The saddle gave us amazing views of the stars and we even found the Southern Cross constellation in the sky. Though some of us had spent 15 hours straight on the mountain that day, it was an absolutely wonderful experience to be in the nature for every stage of the day!
360 video view from the top ^
Then the journey continued for a night hike and stargaze.