I only had two days in Wanaka and I knew one of those days I wanted to tackle a hike. Go big or go home, I thought, and decided to go for Roys Peak.
Every article you read will make you want to not do this crazy hike. You will see the same things across the internet: it’s long, it’s steep, and for the most part, it’s boring. So why put yourself through hell?
For me, it was two things. One, being the obvious, the views at the top. Two, and more importantly, the challenge. I was not athletic growing up. I was so uncoordinated that, in fact, when I was in the seventh grade, the basketball team at my school decided there “weren’t enough jerseys” to let me be on the team. (That’s upstate New York school systems for ya!).
I’m not sure if me being so terrible at sports and the constant rejection has made me want to tackle these crazy physical adventures more, but, whatever the reason behind it, I’m absolutely obsessed with hiking. Let me rephrase that, I’m obsessed with completing hiking. But half the time when I’m going uphill, I think, “this shit sucks.”
After reading articles about Roys Peak and being fairly aware that I was getting myself into something strenuous, I decided to over-prepare (something I’m not exactly known for). Here’s everything I brought:
*Hiking shoes (Columbia hiking shoes to be exact!)
*Trail mix (cashews, dark chocolate, dried apricots, almonds)
*My GoPro, tripod, and selfie stick (wouldn’t the hike be pointless without it?)
*A light North Face jacket incase it got cold (it did NOT get cold, but I went in the summer- I heard it can be chilly during other times of the year)
*One liter of water (hardly enough, bring more if you can especially if you’re going in the summer months)
*A hat to hide my face from the blistering sun
*A fancy pair of earrings because of who I am as a person (oh, and a shawl that ended up being covered in dirt and sweat; don’t bring a shawl)
And off I went! All of this ^^ was in a backpack (other than the earrings and hat!), and it wasn’t too bad to carry, but I want to say…oh, I don’t know, ten minutes in? I was already breaking a sweat and breathing like an overweight dog. This. Hike. Is. STEEP. And when I say steep, I mean, you don’t get a break. It is steep THE ENTIRE TIME. And it truly is a good three hours uphill. They estimate 6 hours roundtrip; mine was 3 hours 5 minutes up, 1 hour 48 minutes down. And on the way up, I took at least twenty minutes in breaks (probably closer to thirty).
Here’s what I’d say; first and foremost, YOU CAN DO IT! I wanted to give up but I knew I wasn’t going to so when I felt extra exhausted, I straight up sat down and caught my breath *several times*. There are tons of bugs and they must really love all of us humans taking over their land because they are loud and will be all over you, hence why I highly recommend bug spray (it was mainly flies, a few bees, and a few unknown critters; I didn’t get bit but regardless, they are incredibly annoying). But, back to the point, take breaks when need be. And take as many as you want. It’s a journey, not a race! Another bit of advice; maybe don’t drink the night before. I had a little too much wine the previous night and though working out usually helps to wear that off, it was not helping me in this situation. I happened to go an extremely hot day (86 degrees Fahrenheit), so aside from being dehydrated from the booze the night before, the heat added an extra setback. This could also be why I went through my water so quickly, which brings me to my next point. If you are feeling overwhelmed / overheated, DON’T CHUG YOUR WATER. I drank way too much water at once out of pure desperation and almost ended up throwing it up.
I’m probably really selling you on this hike, right?
Don’t worry, it gets better.
I got to the point that I started asking people who were on their way down, “How much longer?” and when I was sure I was at least an hour or so away from the point, a lovely young Australian woman said, “Chug the last bit of your water and go for it, you’ll be there in ten minutes.” Well, I didn’t chug the end of my water, because I knew I’d need it for the top (oh, and I was holding back from already throwing up), but I gunned it to the top. I mean, I said “fuck it,” and I ran (as quickly as one can run while going uphill after doing so for two and a half hours). The people who were at the top who once looked like ants started to look like, well, people. And next thing I knew, I was there.
I did it.
I made it.
And ya know what? They were right. Those views were unlike anything else. I mean… I wish I could explain what I saw, but I guess now you’ll just have to find out for yourself, right?
I sat down for a good twenty minutes before I even considered taking a photo. I attempted to eat some of my trail mix but it became a coagulated mess thanks to the dark chocolate I threw in there (I slurped it out of the bag, but my advice would be don’t pack chocolate). I eventually garnered the strength to lift myself up to get in the photo line.
Oh, yeah, there’s a line for photos.
And it’s kind of frustrating to wait for if you’re an impatient New Yorker like me, but ya know what?
You made it this far in the hike, YOU GET YOUR DAMN PHOTO. Just wait. Everyone there worked hard to get to this point and unfortunately it’s 2019 (or whatever year you’re reading this, which I imagine it has only gotten worst), so just deal with it and wait and give everyone taking their photos an applause.
Pro-tip: Stand on the little cliff closest to the peak to get an ultimate photo, and ask everyone to get the F out of the way. Be shameless, my friends.
Now, for the hike back down.
It sucks. But how else are you going to go back to civilization?
To be honest, I hate hiking but going down is almost always worst for me. I have come to the conclusion that I must have very weak knees / hips, because I feel my bones cracking when going down a steep hill verses going up.
My path down lasted me 1 hour, 48 minutes. But the good news was I saw tons of animals on the way down!
And it was fun to see people going up and for me to now be that person to say, “only one more hour!” or “only ten more minutes!” or even the simple “You can do it!”
The truth is, if I can do this hike, you certainly can. And you certainly should.