Mountains have never been on my radar. On my trips overseas, I have always been a beach girl, opting for a beach holiday over any mountain holidays. Being in New Zealand changed that. Hiking up mountains and trails made me realise the beauty of all the mountains that I totally love hiking, even when I’m huffing and puffing my way up.
Challenging myself to climb Ben Lomond in Queenstown was one of the things I never thought to do. It started off very innocuously though. An easy trail that started off the top of the hill. All you had to do was follow the people and the tracks in front of you. I also chose to take the Skyline Gondola up through the forest so that I could have an easier starting point rather than try to hike from the bottom.
The terrain changes as you climb up, from the flatter land to hilly mounds. From tall trees to short bushes around you. From a closed area to more open areas that allow you to look back and fully enjoy the beautiful landscape behind you.
My endurance started to get really tested after walking up for more than 2 hours. The exhaustion started to set in when you keep facing more uphill slopes than downhill or flat ones.
I stopped so many times to catch my breath that I felt sorry for my hiking companion who obviously had more stamina than me in climbing up mountains. I had to alternate with taking off my jacket and putting it back on when the winds grew stronger as I got higher.
Slowly, I started to see the peak getting closer and closer. After more than 3 hours of walking and constant stopping, I finally reached Ben Lomond Saddle, at the base of the peak.
Unfortunately, my companion cautioned me against continuing my way up to the peak. The photos here can be quite deceiving as the trail gets rougher and steeper as it approaches the peak. It was a sharp incline all the way up to the peak from the saddle. I was so close yet so far.
It would have taken me another hour or two to climb up to the peak. I was tired, my leg muscles were on fire, I was sweaty yet cold from the strong winds. I was not appropriately dressed for a 1326m climb to the saddle, even more so for a 1748m high climb to the Ben Lomond peak. I gave in.
In a way, I was relieved that I was not continuing up as my muscles were really tired and sore. My mind couldn’t help feeling regrets about the aborted climb though. Should I have just pushed on? I still think about it again all the time.
For now, I settled for just getting up to the Ben Lomond Saddle which was still a good achievement, especially for someone who have not much experience hiking that far up. All in all, I would say it’s a trail that is still possible to be done by novices but a little physical stamina would still be much helpful to get to the top as I had to stop quite a lot of times just to get to the saddle. I wasn’t that much fit when I gave this a try but it was still a good experience that left me thirsty for more. I will be back, for sure. 🙂
Bring lots and lots of water to keep yourself hydrated throughout the climb.
Start the climb early if possible to avoid crowds on the trail and to allow a lot of time to rest if you need to.
Wear appropriate shoes and clothes and bring a wind-proof jacket along. The winds are really cold up there.
Don’t forget to look behind you as you climb for beautiful views as well
Have you ever hiked up a mountain and given up before reaching the peak? Please do share! 🙂