A plea to Helen.....
Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
53Trip End Mar 23, 2013
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The Tongariro Alpine Crossing! Yes, Alpine, that's what I thought as well but apparently the Alpine reference relates to the type of landscape and not the location. So the "day walk" of the Alpine Crossing is 19.4 kilometres. Yes, 19.4 kilometres - over a bloody mountain!!! But the good news is that the trail is currently closed part way along so we can only do 9 kilometres. Phew! Sadly, that's 9 kilometres each way and we do have to return to where we started. He says I agreed to this. I don't recall..... Oh, and there's an additional excursion up to the top of Mount Ngauruhoe which adds 3 hours and 600 metres vertical rise for those who fancy it
Oh, and for those who might be wondering. The trail is currently closed because of "volcanic activity"! The warning signs suggest that (unless you're really stupid!!) you keep out of the "2 kilometre rock throwing zone". We did!! (Post Walk Note: We've been told since our return from the mountain that at 11.45am this morning, there was quite a big "blow-out". At 11.45, we were approaching the summit but I guess we were concentrating so hard on breathing that we both missed it!)
Well we did the Crossing and we did it in fine time (though Neil may not agree). And it was fantastic, I have to say. But before I pick out the highlights, my plea to Helen. Please mate, there is absolutely NO PRESSURE to keep up this relentless pace when I get to Oz. I'm almost certain that if it continues like it has so far, after five and a half weeks with your brother, I will be more than happy to lie on a beach for a month!!! Go easy on the physical exercise and make full use of the car!!
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is in the shadow of Mount Ruapehu, which featured in the photos of a previous entry. It's beautifully snow covered and thankfully, it being 2800 metres high, it didn't feature in todays endeavours. Instead we started at 1100 metres-ish and climbed to approx 1900 metres, walking through stunning and varied landscapes. The sun shone and the waterproofs, jumpers, emergency rations and everything else we took were surplus to requirements. I did get one hell of a sideways look though from the "guide" whose transport we had booked to get us to the start point. "You're not walking in (walking) sandals are you? Haven't you got any boots?" he sneered. "No problem", said I, "If I struggle, I'll turn round and come back". He sneered again! Well, need I have worried. No,absolutely not. For goodness's sake, they've built steps most of the way up and in between the steps there are edged pathways that wouldn't look out of place in Gill's garden! I admit to there being one or two "klinker" issues as we got up to the volcanic gravel near the top but in all honesty, it was a stroll in the park - despite the 800 metre rise which had me wheezing like a 40-a-day man. On reflection, Vic, I'm sure that Scafell Pike was a damn sight harder than this!
Anyway, I'll end by saying it was a fantastic day, my calves are now like rock and my back is wrecked for the rest of time. But well worth it and I can't wait for a nice quiet "driving day" tomorrow as we head for the ferry. I'll not try to describe the scenery today but hopefully, you'll get an idea from the attached photos...