Day 65 Even Happier (after being very grumpy)
Friday 13 December Tongiriro Crossing Start 7.30am Finish 5.10pm Distance 25km Total 1122km Steps 31,515 Elevation 1300m
This is a bucket list must for anyone. Highs and lows - literally, but OMG the scenery is out of this world.
The day didn't start early. The alarm went of at 4.30 am and it was still raining. Had been pretty much all night. Woke again at 6am and it was foggy. So I took my time getting going.
The first 7km was road. When I got to the turn off for the beginning of the track I was stunned to see dozens and dozens of cars. How dare the rest of the world invade my peace and tranquility. Luckily because I had left late the hordes were already gone and I didn't see anyone for the first couple of hours managing to take dozens of photos uninterrupted by others. Little did I know that the scenery would just get better and better.
The weather was wonderful having cleared to a beautiful and sunny day. Perfect conditions for the crossing.
Early on my mind was willing but the body wasn't. Tried some more food and electrolytes but nothing seemed to be working. I took loads of photo stops (rest breaks), and thought maybe it was just the fact I was climbing a mountain with a pack on my back.
People started passing me coming from the other direction from about 11am. At first a few and then a constant stream. Around this time I started losing my goodwill towards other humans. Maybe I was 'hangry'. Or alternatively the track was full of idiots trying to annoy me. Firstly, isn't it etiquette to let the person going uphill with a great bloody pack on their back, while you are walking just with your phone and a water bottle, to have right of way? Apparently not. And when I moved aside or stopped for them I was lucky to get an acknowledgement. Then of course there were the two different young people kindly playing their music through speakers so we could all enjoy their choice of f@#%& head banging music in the peace and tranquility of our surroundings.
To top it off when I stopped for an early lunch there was a guy having a conversation on speaker phone so loudly and continuously that people started looking at each other, added to which there was litter everywhere. Little pieces of plastic - corners of snack wrappers and plastic bottle caps everywhere. I was disgusted and saddened.
After lunch, with my homicidal thoughts quickly developing I took a new approach. I did not move aside (except for people older than me). I stood my ground, found myself actually thumping my poles to the ground and made the ungrateful little shits walk around me. Their alternative was for me to push them off the edge, and I was seriously considering that as a viable option.
Either the number of people dwindled significantly or my lunch was having an affect, or the magnificence of the scenery finally got the better of me and the rest of the afternoon I was blown away again and again in a good way.
I don't know how to begin to describe it. It was so spectacular, in every direction. I will let the photos tell the story.
It was worth the hard work and annoying people. At one point I saw a ridiculously steep excuse for a trail up the side of a crater rim. I remembered reading there was a side trip you could take and decided there was no way I was taking that one. I got to the track intersection only to discover that was the track I had to take. I was so disbelieving I checked the map twice, despite there being a sign post.
The views from the top were again worth it. The force of nature is staggering and it was fascinating to see up close old lava flows, craters with their myriad of colors, and the rocks the size of cars that had been blown out of the volcanoes.
I am camped in my tent with Mt Ngaruahoe my central view as I look out my tent door. I took two photos of the tent, only 20 minutes apart. A fog descended incredibly quickly.
I am in my happy, happy place.