crossing the crossing off my list

/ the start /
ok, when you just see a sign that says 19.4 km (approximately 10.8 miles), it doesn't sound that bad. but when you find out that you are also going up 700 metres in elevation and then back down 1100 metres, it starts to sound like a bit more of a challenge. this is the tongariro crossing.

/ from the department of conservation tongariro crossing factsheet /
marie, jan and i set out at 7am to drop our car at the ketatahi car park where we then hopped on a little bus to take us to the the start at mangatepopo car park. this way we could walk at our own pace and get back in our car when we reached the end.

/ mt ruapehu /
most people see mt ruapehu from the desert road side, but i much prefer this 'back end' side where you can see lots of craggy terrain. we were already at 1100 metres above sea level at this point and there had been a dusting of snow the night before, so needless to say the weather was pretty brisk. i was prepared with my layers of merino but i wish i had remembered my gloves because my fingers were so cold! thankfully my rain gear also doubled as wind protection because it was also a particularly windy day. but the sun was out and only a few dramatic clouds rolled by throughout the day.
/ dropping my ring into mt doom /
the first part of the track headed right up alongside mt ngauruhoe, better known as mt doom form the lord of the rings trilogy. apparently you can head up to the top of ngauruhoe, but we weren't that insane (or fit). you can't really get the perspective from these photos, but it was crazy steep. we settled for some LOTR tribute photos and continued on.

/ long, flat surface of south crater /
after passing by doom, we had a reprieve from stairs and marched along the long, flat crater that passes between mt ngauruhoe and mt tongariro. but the flat didn't last long and we were headed up again toward the red crater. only the sun hadn't yet hit this side of the pass and there were many icy sections and little room for stumbling. a few times at this point i did think to myself 'wow, i really hope it doesn't get any worse than this...' but everything was fine and we were soon approaching the highest point on our trek.

/ the red crater /

it was getting realllly windy at this point, but we were treated with the stunning red crater (seriously more stunning than the pictures) and some amazing views. photos don't capture the magnitude of the views.

/ at 1900 metres overlooking the blue lake /
and here we were - we made it to the top! this is by far the closest i've been to climbing a mountain, even though this wasn't officially a mountain peak. just before this point there was turn off to go to the summit of mt tongariro which looked far more manageable than mt ngauruhoe. maybe when i come back with reuben we will tackle that one. after reaching this point, it was mostly downhill. a long, steep gravel hill.

/ descending toward the emerald lakes /
surprisingly i didn't end up rolling down the hill as i had imagined i would, but i did end up with boots full of gravel.

/ one of the emerald lakes /
the lakes were one of the few places where the wind wasn't wildly blowing, so we stopped to have a bit of lunch before the long walk downwards.

/ the blue lake /
oh yes, one small upward hike to the blue lake and then we were headed down a winding trail that overlooked lake taupo and the surrounds.

/ my conquering pose /

one thing marie and i were both quite stunned by was the amazing alpine vegetation. the moss was like a thick carpet with small succulents and woolly flowers poking through.

/ alpine carpet /
as we got closer to end of the track, we went through thick bush before reaching the end. the glorious end! 7 hours and 10 minutes..

/ bush /
i have wanted to do the crossing for quite some time so i'm glad to finally have done it, but i am going to need a lot more training before reuben and i do the milford track next year!


Holly said…
Great work, guys! Believe me, we appreciate the accomplishment. ;-)

Funny enough, Kee-Min just blogged about our adventure, too! [I swear, he posted before we saw this!]

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