Thursday, October 21, 2010

Queenstown Part II (The Good)

Portable yurt
A large storm hit Queenstown and the surrounding mountains during the first weekend we arrived, that dumped 2 feet of new snow. This coincided with the end-of-season closing of the local ski resort in the Remarkables mountain range, aptly called "The Remarkables". We were able to use their road to access some incredible backcountry snowboarding and equally incredible camping in the portable yurt. The mountain road rises sharply from Queenstown into the steep mountains. The van got quite a workout. On much of the upper road, we had to drive in 1st gear.  We even had to use our chains for the first (and probably the last) time.

Winding and steep road from lake to mountain

Kea like bike seat foam
One day, as we were climbing up for the last run, we heard the ominous call of the Kea, the world's only alpine parrot. We didn't see them in the parking lot, so we didn't put the bikes inside (note to self: birds can fly). We watched helplessly as they flew across the valley toward the parking lot. When we got back to the van, sure enough, a gang of kea had chewed through our brand new bike cover and finished what they started  on Scott's bike seat. Luckily, when Scott put on the tire chains, he happened to put the heavy cordura tire chain bag over my brand new bike seat, so it survived unscathed.

As is typical this time of year, the snow ranged from powder on the south facing slopes to corn on the north facing slopes to ice and/or slush depending on the time of day. When all we could find was heavy wet snow, we gave up on snowboarding and made a snow-us.

Link to related pictures

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