the magic of Mount Cook

it's no secret I love mountains. climbing them, taking photos of them, even just looking at them. maybe it was growing up in the flat midwest, but every time I look up and see mountains my heart just lifts. strange as it may seem, mountains are kindof my happy place.

when I read Emma's prompt for this month's travel linkup -- a place that sparks joy -- my immediate thought was: New Zealand. I've been lucky enough to take two trips to this magical place. though many of the locations we've visited are dear to my heart, the time we spent at Mount Cook / Aoraki and it's surrounding area towers above the rest. [and not just because Mt Cook is the tallest peak in NZ!]

I think a big part of why I love Mount Cook is that our first visit there ended in disaster. our plans to hike the Hooker Valley Track were foiled by a snowstorm [in summer.] we had to cancel our second night of camping there, and the first was virtually sleepless -- spent battling gale force winds to keep our tent stakes in and trying to repair a snapped pole. in fact, we never even made it into Aoraki National Park.

it's rare in life that you get a second chance. and visiting a place as remote as New Zealand? I'm insanely grateful. things don't always go according to plan when you're traveling [as I'm well aware] but our return to Mount Cook couldn't have been more perfect.

the weather? fantastic. the upgraded shower facilities? amazing. mornings with my coffee and a view of the man in Mount Cook? yes please. our camp cooking skills were pro by this point, and we had the routine of converting our camper from drive mode to sleep mode down to a science. we climbed up to view the Tasman Glacier, and stopped to frolic in fields of lupin, and finally finally got to hike the Hooker Valley Track.

and at the end of the day we would throw the van doors open, or sit outside on our "porch" to watch the sunset. the brush next to our campsite was home to a family of rabbits, who would hop around with their floppy ears and adorable twitchy tails. and there was quiet, and reading, and of course some delicious New Zealand wine.

Mount Cook is definitely a place that sparks joy for me -- even just the memory of it. I could go on and on about the fresh air and sunshine, the blues and the greens, and how amazing even our sandwiches that we packed for hiking tasted. [is it weird that I remember that?]

maybe it was having a second chance at Mount Cook that sprinkled our experience with magic. maybe I'm wearing the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia [or maybe blue-tinted based on the photos.] or maybe, it's just an incredible place to visit, and our time there sparked a bonfire's worth of joy.

on a somewhat related note, I've recently come to realize that this blog is another thing in my life that sparks joy. the past few years have been incredibly challenging for me. in trying to focus on taking care of myself, this space was somewhat set aside. I'm not sure if I'll ever be ready to go into the details of all that. but I do know -- at least for me -- writing, and sharing my writing, is an important part of living a happy and healthy life.

plus, I kinda missed it. so I'm back to blogging again, and trying to find a way to make it feel right. it might get a little messy as I figure it out -- but I'm a little bit messy right now. and, well, that's ok. I'll take a little joy wherever I can find it.

 and Maggie at Planes and Champagne for the March Travel Linkup

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