Conquering mount doom

Trip Start Oct 01, 2012
Trip End Oct 01, 2015

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Flag of New Zealand  , Manawatu-Wanganui,
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

We got up early, ate breakfast and jumped on our bus to take us to the start of our tongariro crossing trek- claimed to be the best one day trek in the world. The journey didn't take too long and we were soon on our way, walking through the national park - three active volcanos looming above us- the most famous, ngauruhoe otherwise known as mount doom....from lord of the rings- faction!
Wild flowers were everywhere and the path followed the track of a stream which crashed over rocks and trickled down to the valley below. It was around an hours walk on the flat during which time the sun rose up from behind mount doom. We followed the trail and began a 40 minute climb up to the crossing, there was a path and even steps which led up there which along with the fact we weren't at around 4,000m above sea level made things much easier than the treks we'd done in south America. Feeling confident as we reached the top we stood at the foot of mount doom looking at a sign which told us the summit climb was just a 3hr return trip- we looked to the top then again to each other and decided to go for it. The track was fairly easy for the first 15 minutes then the track disappeared and we found ourselves scrabbling up lose lava rocks, every step slipping back down again. We got to an area where there were some stable rocks and we used them to hold on to as we pulled ourselves up through the dust. After an hour we were around halfway and found ourselves a little area sheltered by the wind to stop and have a snack. We looked up and couldn't see the summit, we looked down and found ourselves looking at a steep hill of around 55 degrees that we'd just climbed up and began to worry how we would get back down.
We carried on scrambling up the edge of the huge volcano without a trail in site feeling very exposed to the elements, after we'd been climbing for nearly an hour and 45 minutes and were both nearly ready to give up but not wanting to tell the other, another person passed us sliding back down, we asked how far to the top- of course they were much more prepared than us and had an altitude reader thingy and could tell us we were only 100m to the top. By this point it was so steep and slippery we were climbing on all fours clinging on for dear life scared we were going to slip all the way to the bottom but we couldn't give up on another mountain so we carried on and eventually after 2 hours we couldn't climb anymore and found ourselves looking down into the crater of an active volcano!
We couldn't believe our eyes as we stood looking into the crater and we think we could even see magma in the middle - this could of just been mud we weren't sure. We felt as though we were on top of the world as we looked out across the tongariro crossing and noticed that the volcano opposite was actually smoking- huge plumes of smoke were billowing up into the sky behind the bright blue lakes on the crossing in front. Clouds lined the horizon, we could even see another volcano which was on the west coast some 200km away it was awesome. We sat and had our lunch on the edge of the crater of mount doom and then had the nerve racking challenge of making our way back down. A 55 degree angle faced us, as there was no solid ground the only way down was to slide - we went slowly worried the rocks beneath us would move too quickly and we would tumble out of control. We slid down the volcano face and fell over a lot as a couple of others passed us gracefully. It took us a long scary hour but we were soon at the crossroads at the foot of mount doom, we'd done it with only grazed hands and bruised bums as a result! We'd run out of water at the summit and began our walk back to the car park which seemed to go on forever but 2 hours later we arrived where there was a tap of running water which to our disappointment had a sign saying it was untreated - we drank it anyway! When we got back we cooked food and spent the rest of the evening relaxing in the tv lounge at the hostel.
We awoke the following day feeling bruised and achy, initially we thought we'd make the most of the day by heading to another mountain within the national park, we soon realised this probably wasn't feasible as every time we stood up or sat down we let out a kind of groaning noise as our leg muscles pulled. We decided to take it easy and just relaxed, dominating the tv room for the entire day- it felt weird as we haven't watched tv in so long. By the time we headed to bed we were both excited to be moving on- next stop Wellington!
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