Tongariro crossing

Trip Start Mar 03, 2005
Trip End Mar 31, 2006

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Well, that was definately the best one day walk I have ever done!! We headed up from Wellington on Friday evening towards the National Park and the prospect of a weekend of walking. It was quite a long drive - we left at 5.30 and only got to the hostel about 10.30, but we did stop off on the way for some scran; I got my fave: cheese toastie. Yum.
We all hit the sack almost as soon as finding our room, but not before a bit of panic: I had called the hostel previously to check if I could hire some walking boots as my trainers have loads of holes in them and aren't teh best shoes for walking 17km... Anyway, the reception wasn't open and I had a major panic that I wouldn't be able to hire some boots, argh!! The others realise that there was no bed linen, I was clever and had brought my sleeping bag, so was ok. Cos and Kate used their towels but Alison realised that she had forgotten her towel.... Great, we felt so organised!!
The next day, my alarm went off at 6am, and I jumped out of bed to check out what the weather was like outside - booooooooo!! It was grey and the clouds were so low; it looked really foggy. We got ready anyway, and fortunately I got myself some walking shoes; the bus turned up at 7.15am and we were ready to roll!!
We got to the start of the track, and saw that the visibility was abysmal. Starting to walk, we set off at a good pace. Kate had lent me one of her walking poles, I felt like a bit of a tool wearing trousers that were too big (making my arse look huge), big walking shoes and a walking pole.
The views at first were a bit poor as the cloud was so low. It took us about an hour to get to the first marker and the toilets - which stunk so much. Anyway, we stopped here for a breather and some scran. We were sat on some rocks, and looking at the scenery, and Mt Ngauruhoe just appeared from behind the clouds - if you've seen Lord of the Rings you may know it as Mt Doom....
I filled my face with food (well, it was time for second breakfast), ready for the next stage of the walk - this bit is ominously called "devil's staircase". So off we headed - and I tell you it was strutting hard work!! I got through it by thinking "I'm Andy McNab, I'm Andy McNab....." I steamed ahead of the others, stunning myself and them by my remarkable level of fitness.... Ok, so that's an exaggeration, but I was climbing faster than the others. The cloud covering was really dense up near the top of the climb, making the already sinister landscape look even more spooky.........
When we paused on the cliff face for a break and more scran we had a bit of a laugh watching people struggling up, obviously being really subtle in not laughing in their faces though! Some people had a really strange get-up of clothes too... one of my mates saw this Asian family doing the walk wearing shiny leather going out shoes, carrying plastic bags full of food; weird.
Anyway, after expecting the climb to be a complete bitch, it actually finished a lot earlier than I'd anticipated, and if this was the worst bit I was sorted for the rest.
The views from the top were great, but there was better views yet still to after we had walked through what looked like a moon crater. Check out the piccies....
Next was a climb and a scramble down to the emerald lakes - the colour of these is incredible.... Again, check out the piccies. As this area is all geothermally active the ground was quite warm in places, and steaming too - and it stank quite bad with some gusts of wind, yuk!! It was really windy, I felt a little precarious stood on the top of a high mountain type thing - but at least I had my pole for support!!
After more scrambling down and nearly falling over (I watched some woman land on her arse - classic!!) it was to the blue lake - not as impressive as the emerald lakes but a good place to stop to grab some more scran, elevenses I think it was.
Then it was into the fog again for the beginning of the descent. By this stage we were all a little desperate for the toilet, since the fist toilet break was at 9am, and it was getting on for 12.30, so we hurried along this section to the Ketetahi hut where it was time for some lunch and a nice 30 minute break.
Then we made our way down the final section of the crossing, luckily the cloud had started to break up and we could see views over the National Park and Lake Rotoaira - nice.
This was a downhill track through woodland, and although the views were not that great compared to the others, it was nice to walk through woodland. We took a nice break for a bit on a bench and had some more scran - 2nd lunch. Then it was the final stretch, and we had made it!!! Yay!! It was just after 3pm, so we had done the walk in 7hours including all our food and picture breaks, so I reckon we had done it in less than 6 hours. Nice one. No cuts, bruises, and I hadn't even fallen over properly - a couple of near misses and some comedy twists on the old ankles, but that was it. Jurassic Park!!
I loved the walk, it was so great. The views were just incredible and I actually really enjoyed the walking bit of it. Who would have thought?!
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