Tongariro Crossing

I’m by no means an extremist but I’ve done a few intense things.  Today’s hike on November 16th, definitely can be added to the list of top extreme things I’ve done.  Last night, after a discussion of Whale Rider, we crashed in our double bunk rooms at the Discover Lodge.  We woke at 6am for breakfast and then gathered all of our layers of gear.  We took the bus to Tongario National Park for a hike over the volcano crossing.  The Lonely Planet recommends this crossing hike as “one of New Zealand’s life-changing experiences and rates it as the world’s finest day hikes”.  The Hike is 19.4km and ascends 765m and decesnds 1126m.    The hike began easy, flat land of a different, unique terrain.  Starting off in many layers, I had to shed them along the way.  Then we began our assent up steps and rocks.  It wasn’t too steep and I kept pushing through.  As we rose to a higher elevation, the terrain changed and so did the climate and weather.  The air became thinner and much cooler as a breeze came through.  There were also patches of snow streaked by the wind on the side of the mountain.  Stopping for too long was difficult because my body temperature would quickly drop.  So, I trekked on through.  We rose higher and the wind picked up and blowing moisture right on the side of our face.  My fingers got icy cold and went numb, I kept pumping my arms to get the blood flowing through them.  There was little stopping and we pushed onwards.  The view from the top of the mountain was limited by the cloud but it started to clear as we descended.  You could see the turquoise sulfur pools emerge.  The moisture in the air started picking up, and it was soon raining and we were drenched.  We stopped after about 11 k at a day hut to wolf down our sandwich.  We were so wet that it made us too cold to stay put so we pushed on the rest of the way.  The features of the hike changed the rest of the way.  As we defended down, everything became visible and the sun even began to shine through to warm our bodies and push our hearts.  There were steps, long paths, and trees grew around the trail creating a wet forest.  Then we came across a stream with waterfalls.  The water looked clean but had a milky tint.  We followed this stream the rest of the way and before I realized, we had reached the end of a 19k, strenuous, and truly rewarding hike.

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