Tag Archives: nature

Slip Slidin’ Away

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For me Yosemite has always been my gold standard for the best that nature can be, with Zion National Park close behind. The Milford Sound changed all that, and had me seriously evaluating if I’ve ever been anywhere more beautiful.

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Lake Gunn, on the way to Milford Sound

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On our way to Gertrude Saddle

The hike up to Gertrude Saddle was the highlight, although coming out of the forest to find perfect mountain reflections on the emerald Lake Marion wasn’t too shabby either. We opted not to do the boat ride around the sounds, in keeping with the theme of being hipster travelers, but the sunset from the dock was worth all the sandfly bites. Maori legend says that a god carved out the sounds with his spear, and when his wife saw how beautiful they were she sent sandflies to keep humans from forgetting their mortality, and I think that sounds about right.

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A close up shot of a kea from Gary the bird-whisperer

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Look how beautiful their wings are underneath!

From Milford area we drove back up to Queenstown, where I enjoyed having access to some city amenities (beers! hot showers! flat whites!), but did not enjoy the hoards of other tourists. We spent the week alternating between hiking and climbing as usual, with the climbing at Wye Creek being my favorite of the entire trip.

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Lake Marion

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Key Summit

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The Milford Sound

I knew our luck with weather couldn’t last for ever, and sure enough, once rain decided to settle in, it really stuck around. Almost overnight the weather turned, and stayed, apocalyptic, and there seemed to be nowhere to go to escape it.

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An attempt to show the fall foliage in Arrowtown, a cute, old-timey town just outside of Queenstown

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Remembering how to lead at Arawata Terrace

We did our best to make the most of things, visiting the Moeraki Boulders and Curio Bay in the rain, to see what looked like giant dinosaur eggs and great long logs of petrified wood embedded in the sea bed. Another day we attempted to walk to the lighthouse at Fossil Bay, and failed. Even with linking our arms and bending our bodies completely at a right angle we literally couldn’t move forward, the wind making it impossible without crawling on all fours.

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Moeraki Boulders

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Curio Bay

Abandoning our plan to try and find fossils on the beach, we instead drove to a different beach known to have the world’s rarest penguins. We hiked out to a viewing structure, rain soaking through two of my layers in the process. Luckily, within five minutes of searching I peered through the binoculars at what originally looked like driftwood and spotted a yellow-eyed penguin swimming up to shore. The soggy group cheered as we watched him waddling pompously towards his nest, the win we all needed to boost our spirits.

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I will miss waking up in places like this…

Realistically though, we were kind of stuck, the weather really putting a cramp in our style. After a week of feeling like I was on a boat and being unable to sleep from the wind rocking the van, we decided we’d had a perfect trip, but now it was done. In a decision perhaps brought on by the delirium of being stuck in a vehicle for days on end, we bought a last minute ticket to Vanuatu. The van is sold, our bank accounts are closed, and we fly out tomorrow. New Zealand was everything I always dreamt it would be, and I’m so grateful for my time here.

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Goodbye, New Zealand! You’re just the best

 

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Waters of March

I accidentally let time get away from me! And now I’m already back on the South Island, and there’s no way I’m going to be able to do my time up north justice. So for now, here are a few pictures, and a promise to try and do better capturing these final six weeks! 

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The Coromandel’s beaches in the summer are pretty hard to beat…

Octopus Bay

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Starting the trek to the Pinnacles Hut

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I spy, with my little eye, a little hut in the middle of all that green

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The Pinnacles! Can you see me climbing up the first set of ladders?

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Little Gary, big forest

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Success! After sitting at a trailhead for a month for work, this hike kicked my butt super hard

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I couldn’t get enough of this view. Thank god Gary had the presence of mind to take some pictures

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After a night in the hut, we woke up early to watch the sunrise, and we were not disappointed

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At first it was too cloudy to see anything, but as the sun rose the fog turned all kinds of oranges and reds, swirling around the mountain tops as it evaporated

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The Dawn Wall?

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Honestly this might just be a still from Jurassic Park

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Living in a van has its challenges, but sometimes freedom camping in places like this makes them feel worth it. If you look hard enough you can see the super moon rising

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Rotorua! Creepy. And smelly

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Papatūānuku (Maori for mama earth) was being very uncooperative the entire time we were working at the base of Mount Taranaki. But behind those clouds is a picture perfect volcano, I swear

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But the cloudy weather made the sunsets at our campsite all the more epic, so ya lose some ya win some, I guess

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Sat at the Tarawera Falls trailhead working for a couple days, and I never stopped being mesmerized by just how clear this water was

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In a country full of waterfalls, this one might be my favorite

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We hiked through misty darkness to be here in time to watch the sun kiss the top of this volcano, and it was really special

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The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of the most touristy things to do on the North Island, but it definitely lived up to the hype

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Happy!

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The Red Crater! Also a thing from the Lord of the Rings movies, apparently

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Wish an iPhone could better capture just how vibrant that green was

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Halfway point!

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The looooong descent

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After an early, 12 mile day, this hot spring in Taupo felt like the best treat

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Decided that one 12 mile hike wasn’t enough, so the next day we hiked 6 miles in to Kawakawa Bay at Lake Taupo for a day of rock climbing

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This view was absolute heaven. But after a day of multi-pitching plus the hike out, the next morning I was so sore I could barely get out of bed… ya win some, ya lose some!

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A Kind of Magic

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature. -Rachel Carson

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The President stole your land. While easily forgotten thanks to the hundreds of other scandals since, in an unprecedented act Trump reduced Bear’s Ears National Monument by over a million acres and Grand Staircase-Escalante by over 800,000 acres. Recently, documents accidentally released by the Department of the Interior revealed biased decision-making in favor of extractive industries. All the while the Trump administration continues to favor special interest groups and profit, rolling back regulations meant to protect us and the environment at an alarming rate.

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La Belle Fleur Sauvage

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

Dogwood season

Dogwood season

Yosemite is such a flirt! Views for days, meadows that glow gold, plunging waterfalls. It had been awhile since my last visit to the park, yet I still had that fluttery feeling in my stomach while driving in, proving once again just how easy it is to fall in love with places, and that true love can last a lifetime.

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Nevada Falls

Half Dome

Half Dome

 

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