We are heading back down the valley, and up to the foot of Rob Roy Glacier. The group are hardened trampers now, and I release them to walk to the swing bridge in their own time, while i follow on behind. This gives me a good chance, and the first chance in 10 days, to have a little Grum time. Often, small groups hike together, and as I catch up I hear snippets of some very interesting conversations. Having been together so long, over two weeks for some, new friendships and bonds have grown. It's great to see it happening.
We cross the swing bridge. Susan is still not happy doing so, perhaps because Ian and I tend to make it bounce and sway a little more than it might normally. Still Susan is a good ol cowgirl from Austin Texas, and takes it in her stride.
We are back on the "tourist route", but even so numbers are not huge, and I am challenged by the group to swop my shirt with a tourist's shirt...preferably a good looking Scandinavian lady. I manage to exchange my orange hat for a very colourful warm fleece Jacket, with a very pretty young lady from Germany, but when I start to walk away after the photo with the jacket still on she is quick to chase me. Chris and Karen (from Seattle) do not allow me to claim success. A jacket is not a shirt...... Maybe tomorrow.
The sun comes out as we sit below the Glacier, and we soak the warmth in as we watch the scene above us change. The Cloud at Glacier level changes continuely. Even more photos would have been taken if the sun hadn't been in the wrong spot. Once again, a common place to see Kea disappoints. I'm unsure where they have disappeared to. Often the Kea turn up here in twos or threes. One does a dance in front of the tourists, while the others raid the lunch bags behind the watchers.
It's really nice walking down the track with a light pack. We have stashed most our gear at the bottom of the climb, and just taken snacks, water and cameras up the hill. Chris is struggling with a sore knee, but copes really well. Once we have our packs on, it's only 20 minutes back to the van. It's always great completing a nice walk, and getting out of your boots.
Just over an hour later we are in the Cardrona Pub, sipping on a Gingerbeer. The log fire is pumping out the heat, and although it's not really all that cold, it's a lovely atmosphere. Another hour and after a stunning drive over the Crown Range, and for me a reminder of the grind up from Arrowtown on my bike in July, we are at Pinewood in Queenstown.
Three nights in the same accommodation is a welcome break from having to pack every day. I spend a couple of hours sorting the van and trailer, while the others shower and do laundry. They are all off on a bus and cruise to Milford tomorrow. I have a day off......Lots of sleep is on the cards.....