After a blue bird day up at Treble Cone, we wanted to experience some more of the awesome winter activities Wanaka has to offer, so we ventured up the Pisa range near Cardrona.
Nestled at the top of the mountain at an altitude of 1,600m, Snow Farm features over 55km of backcountry ski trails for cross-country and ski touring enthusiasts. Nearing the end of the winter season, the ground was beginning to show, but there was still lots of snow along the groomed trails!
Despite being an avid downhill skier, the one and only time I had ever tried cross-country skis was in my Grade 6 gym glass during a field trip. I expected the ‘skate skis’ to be quite similar to downhill, just obviously with a lot more ‘give’, however I was quickly proven wrong. Although Jordan took off like a complete natural, I was left behind feeling like the most uncoordinated person on skis.
Looping through the ‘Main Street’ track we headed out towards the backcountry trails down the River Run track. It must have taken me a good 30-40 mins to actually get into a bit of a grove and be able to skate down the track without flailing my arms and nearly falling over every 5 seconds. Poor Jordan did his best to stay back with me at my slower than usual pace.
Along the way we passed the Meadow Hut where a few ski touring folks had stopped for a break. I had no idea there was also a network of backcountry huts scattered along these trails – wished we had planned to stay the night on the mountain! Will know better next time!
Continuing down the River Run path, we took a sharp right uphill towards Top Peak to reach the summit. Despite my uneasiness for heading up a continuous uphill track (as my legs and feet were getting sore from using muscles I never knew I had), Jordan convinced me the views would be worth it.
At this point I was starting to get into a rhythm with the skis. With the sun shining and barely a cloud in the sky, we couldn’t have asked for a better day to explore. Although initially we thought we would only be out for 2-3 hours, the day continued to slip away and that meant we had to cut the final leg to Top Peak out of our journey. We still managed to get high enough to get a beautiful view of the backcountry trails below and marvel and the switch-back path we had just climbed.
With lunch time passing us by, we felt this was a good spot to take a break and fuel up. With barely anyone around it was easy to just sit and take in the beautiful winter wonderland around us.
Ready to make our way back down the hill, we decided to try skiing down the pre-formed tracks. Although it definitely made it easier to go fast, trying to pull out of the tracks at high speeds wasn’t quite as easy as I thought which resulted in a crash or two.
And the falls didn’t stop there. For some reason going downhill, it felt like I had greace on the bottom of my skis, making it difficult to keep my balance. Sure enough Jordan managed to catch one of my falls on camera. In this one I managed to land on my iphone that was in my back pocket that ended up ripping my pocket completely off! (iphone was luckily ok though)
Finally after over 5 hours on our skis we made it back to the lodge. Although it was a really fun day, I was definitely happy to take off the skis and get into the comfort of my winter boots again!