Wednesday 18th November 2015
26.11.2015 18 °C
When we first woke up this morning there was a fair bit of cloud over the mountain tops but this very quickly cleared giving us great views of Mount Sefton and up towards the Hooker Valley. After breakfast we made up a packed lunch and then we got on our way. Most people doing the walk drive as far as the White Horse Hill Camping Ground, which is what we did. We walked past a couple of landmarks; the alpine memorial and a place called Freda's Rock (named after the first woman to climb Mount Cook, Freda du Faur). From there we walked gently up hill and then down a number of steps to the swing bridge that made our first crossing of the Hooker River.
From the bridge there are great views up the river and into Mueller Lake which is fed from a glacier of the same name as well as from Hooker Lake which was our final destination. From there it was a short walk until we reached a point from where we could look up the valley to Mount Cook. It was very clear without a cloud in the sky.
The gravel path continued up and down a bit, over old moraine ridges and humps until, we reached the second swing bridge at Hooker Bluff.
From here we saw lots of the large Mount Cook buttercups which are about three inches in diameter. The valley opens out a bit from here and there is a lot of tussock grass. We continued on until we reached a stream with a nearby shelter and some primitive looking toilets.
From there a long boardwalk evens out the terrain until we arrived at the final swing bridge, after which we started to gently climb again as we walked over moraine heaps. There were even more clumps of white buttercups here and quite a sense of anticipation as I knew that we were getting near the edge of the lake all the time. Finally we went between two large rocks and over the lip of the moraine and then had a full view of Hooker Lake.
There were some large picnic tables at the main viewpoint and lots of people were sitting there admiring the view while others were eating picnics. We joined them and sat and ate our lunch with great views of the milky blue glacial waters and across to the snout of the Hooker Glacier. We could see down to the shore of the lake where there were some lumps of glacial ice and that is where we went once we had finished eating. The lake looked beautiful from down on the rocky beach and there was a stark contrast between the main colour of the lake and the green at the waters edge. It was quite busy when we got there as there was a group of American schoolchildren but when they left it unsurprisingly got a little more peaceful! We went to where we could get a better view of the smallish lumps of ice that had previously broken off the snout of the glacier and floated down the lake.
One of them looked like a piece of modern art, reminding me a bit of Salvador Dali's Mae West Lips Sofa. We also walked a little further round the beach and across some small rocks to see where the Hooker Rives flows out of the lake. As we walked back along the shore line I went and had a look at some smaller pieces of ice, fragile and sparkling like jewels in the milky waters of the lake.
We spent a little more time up at the viewpoint overlooking the lake where we had previously eaten our lunch before starting to retrace our steps and as we walked we had glimpses back through the entrance to the valley and the turquoise blue of Lake Pukaki beyond. We crossed back over the two lower swing bridges and there were clumps of a strange spiny yellowy coloured flower that I later found out are for some reason called Spiny Spaniards.
By the time we got back to the car we had been out for the best part of five hours. The track walking had taken us almost exactly the three hours they said it would, but we had taken a number of small diversions and had also spent quite a lot of time on the lakeside beach. Nigel had set the GPS on his phone which had measured the distance we had walked which totalled nearly seven and a half miles which must be the furthest I have walked by far since breaking my ankle last year. When we got back to the motel we just relaxed for a while and looked back at our photos before I cooked us a risotto for supper.