March is here which seems almost impossible given our Christmas tree is probably still up at home. We are heading back towards Arrowtown again; yes, more gold panning, but first a peak to climb. Sitting above Arrowtown are two beautiful peaks - Brow Peak and Big Hill. One route would have us park in the same location as yesterday and follow the trail along the river before the steep ascent to the summit. After Mount Crichton’s painful descent a few days ago I decided we should approach the summit by following the Coronet Peak ridge line.
We had noted with interest the wandering ridgeline trail last year while sitting at the summit and decided this might be a less strenuous path. Taking the long drive around Lake Hayes instead of going through Queenstown lead to a much later start than I would have liked. Construction at the Coronet Peak ski area cut off our normal route we remembered from last year and resulted in a construction foreman giving us a ride out of harms way. Climbing the mountain bike path was as steep as I remembered, but watching paragliders and hang gliders launch from right below us was new. It was mesmerizing to see their chutes fill with air as they run to the mountains edge, then gently lift off.
We spotted a yellow trail marker high on the ridge and assumed that was the direction of travel. We hiked and looped along the mountain biking trail switchbacks and finally came to a division in the trails. Following a weak but reasonable trail we hiked up the last several terraces to arrive at the sign.
This was indeed the Brow Peak Route Information sign, but it indicated an additional 2 hours of hiking time - one way - to Brow Peak. It was already past noon as we continued along this high alpine ridgeline. The views are breathtaking as the weather continues to be crystal clear and visibility is as far as the eye can see. Off trail now we scramble to a rocky ridgeline peak and decide to eat lunch.
Brow Peak will have to wait for another visit. I often forget that summit attempts on these massive peaks take a full day even when driving to high elevation. We settled down to enjoy some Tim Tans, apples and drink plenty of water, before our return trip to the car. Thankfully the downhill portion is not as painful on the knee and we made good time back to the car.