Melissa and myself are having a cooling off period so it was best that I left her parked up for the day sulking while I went off and did my own thing.
Madness in getting up at 6 and the bus collecting us at 7.15 to bring us to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The morning was cool and a bit foggy but I still plastered myself with the factor 30 but need not have bothered. The weather went rapidly down hill after that!!. The first hour were spent in dull overcast and foggy while as we ascended the lashings of rain started followed by a wicked cold wind. Thank god I had my trusty waterproorf and my new leggings which worked a treat.
Julia (Germany) met a fellow countryman on the bus who had originally met her at a wedding in Thailand 3 years ago.. how freaky is that?? I got talking on the hike to a lovely lady called Ann from Cambridgeshire in the UK who is nealry 70 and to all those who are reading this would put you to shame as she finished the walk way ahead of fitter younger others. She said she did struggle near the top but trudged on. Ann is a lady who went carting in Rotorua and also did a 15000 foot tandem skydive. As she announced earlier on "Der I am spending my childrens inheritance" and more power to her!!!. She told me of an Irish lady she had met in the hostel called Ger who was in her retiremnet hiking for 7 months around NZ on her own.. I am in bowing my head in further shame!
This hike by the way is 19km long up to 1900m if you dont do two of the peaks and up to 2200m for one of them. Just to put this into perspective Irelands highest peak is 1030m and not an easy climb. My house in St Lukes is 83 m over see level and try climbing that on a Saturday night after a skinfull. Not easy. Apparently part of the Lord of the Rings was filmed here and I know exactly why . Even in crap weather it was beautiful.
An hour in we got two hours of howling winds and driving rain with no visibility. Some turned back but not many. At some stages we got a brief glimpse thru the mist and howling winds and rain at the landscape. Imagin the moon with some volcanoes just about to erupt and sulphur and steam spewing out.. It was incredible. We did not try the two peaks as there was no point with the weather and anyhow if we did get to the top the pics to prove it would be of fog and a very very damp Der et al!. It was a wonerful day though and great laughs.
I think I have made a few enemies tho as when Julia and I got to the hut for lunch all were inside silently eating their lunch. I fell in the door and said.... "wheres the funeral cause you are all very quiet.. even the yanks !!
Prior to our arrival at the "dinner hut" Julia and I bumped into Ger the Arklow woman who is hiking around on her own going in the opposite direction to us of course on a three day hike staying in hits no the way and carrying all her food and pots and pans and bedding etc. What a sense of life and living... she would inspire you but tried to get me recruited into the Irish Mountian Runners Association.. she has some chance.... but told me she will see me in the Mournes in Sept and EXPECTS to see me!! Yikes... I should have pretended to be German as half the population seems to be over here...
On the way down from the Crossing we did manage to get some wonderful views of Lake Taupo...50 kms away.
So my evening so far is washing the mank off my clothes from todays hike and throwing all into the one wash as I always do and ending up dying all my lovely whites a nice shade of baby blue from that fecking travel towel...the one that dries you and dries out afterwards in nanoseconds. They did not warn ya that the fecking thing would dye all your smalls and bright whites to an poxy shade of baby blue but so be it.
Julia and I looked for our walking colleagues to go for a meal with this evening but could not find them after searching the local hostel. We did however end up locally in a bar/restaurant having a really good cheap meal and meeting a retired couple from Limerick about to head off on the crossing tomorrow... BAD idea... we saw the weather forecast.... gale force winds and NO visibility..In other words a similar day to the Magillicuddy Reeks!! Wear gloves and waterproofs, forget the factor 50!! They would have to learn that for themselves!