Midweek missions. When you work in an office 9-5 Monday-Friday, sometimes finding time to connect with the mountains - even when you live in somewhere as incredible as Wanaka, NZ - can be a difficult and daunting prospect. So last week, my housemate Sissy and I decided to get some midweek adventure in and go cross-country ski touring to sleep in Bob Lee Hut on the Pisa Range above Cardrona.
By headtorch, we trudge on for hours, in circles, after being directed down the wrong trail by another madman up there in the biting cold and darkness. With a pretty hectic winter going a hundred miles an hour at work, we find ourselves alone in the vast rolling white and huge skies overhead; a more than welcome escape. Walking into the unknown with nothing but our skis, a small pack each and a sense of adventure, we continue onwards into the dark.
Eventually finding Bob Lee Hut perched in the hills, we hurry inside, relieved to finally reach our destination for the night. It's freezing. We busy ourselves with lighting the fire, finding blankets and ripping our skins off to hang them from the roof to dry. When the fire's blasting, we strip our outer layers and get into our sleeping bags, huddled on the bench beds as close as physically possible to the heat. Scoffing down pasta and a thermos of tea, we share memories from another overnight trip hut in the Portes du Soleil and talk about dreams of climbing mountains all over the globe as we nod off in our tin can for the night.
Waking up at the crack of dawn, piercing pink light shines through the glass doors of the hut and we peek outside. The light is unreal and we're soon up, dressed and outside to marvel at the beauty of the sunrise. We'd never been up there before, and seeing the Pisa's for the first time by sunrise is a pretty awe-inspiring moment. Taking a deep breath in, the cold hits my lungs and I think about why we do the things we do.
We're disconnecting to reconnect. No phone signal, no human life. We detach from the responsibilities and stresses of every day life to feel the unwavering peace of the mountains. We find solace in the landscape and quietly revel in the moment.
As we ski tour our way back to the base building I look up at the pastel sky once more - the most beautiful sunrise I think i've ever seen. I feel grateful that we can sleep near to the stars, temporarily escape from real life, and still make it to the office for 10AM.