From Milford Highway, the trailhead was a short jaunt north on a well-maintained gravel road. I loaded up my pack and swayed across the swing bridge with clear-blue river rushing beneath. The trail mimicked the raging water at first past rapids along a boardwalk then curved away and climbed higher into the beech-tree forest. At times I felt like I was wandering through the Mirkwood and was sure to stay on the path as I clambered over rocks and up roots as the trail gained elevation, thankfully orange triangle blazes marked the path. I hiked with determination and soon the trees began to thin when I past a sign for the restroom, typical New Zealand, I knew I was close. In a 100 more meters the forest opened up to an aw-inpsiring view.
A waterfall cascaded down the nearest mountain and craggy peaks were the backdrop to the west and north. The boulder-strewn shoreline was sprinkled with day hikers, but I spotted the perfect diving rock a little down the shore and quickly claimed it. It felt like I stripped down to my underwear without breaking stride, as to not lose my nerve to jump in the glacier-cold water. I dove into my ice bath and quickly resurfaced gasping for air to hear a cheer of approval from a day hiker along the main shore. I gave a whoop in response with a huge grin plastered to my face.
Nothing topped that feeling for the rest of the trip; I found my New Zealand happy place at Marian Lake.
Out of all of the amazing things I did in New Zealand, why was this alpine lake so special? Well, I am pretty fond of alpine lakes so it was something familiar in a foreign landscape. I love (briefly) jumping in alpine lakes and decided this lake needed to be added to the list; so I challenged myself to power up the trail to get nice and warm before attaining my goal of a quick dip. Then as I sat next to the lake drying off I was filled with that warm fuzzy feeling some folks call joy. Of course, an amazing view and sharing a happy place with good company adds to the experience.
My adventure resolution for 2016 – find more happy places. That’s my main goal for the year, with the following objectives:
- Lady Backpacking Trip – Alpine lakes, good company, and a full soft-sided wine carafe or three; now this is my kind of ladies’ weekend!
- Eastern Sierra Winter Adventure – The Eastern Sierra is my happiest of places, I want to experience their dramatic mountains and steamy hot springs with a dusting of snow.
- I’ve Got That Huckin’ Feelin’ – As a whole, ultimate frisbee folks are the most positive and welcoming folks I know; I need more of that in my life.
We’re coming for you 2016!
Trails and Aspen