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Published: March 20th 2012
This past weekend was pretty epic! I went down to Taupo with 14 other students living in the same place that I am. They were all from the Arcadia group and I only knew two people going in. We left Friday and it took us about 4.5 hours to drive to our backpackers hostel. Once we arrived we went to a truck-stop for dinner since nothing else was open. They actually had really good food here! The next morning we woke up at five and loaded the bus which took us to Tongariro National Park. When we got there I realized I should have done more research on the hike because I didn't know what I was getting myself into! The trail was 19.4 km or about 12 miles for all you in the United States. The trail went up and down the nearby mountains. There were parts of the trail where some stairs were added which I think was the worst part! I hate going up stairs, it made me feel very out of shape. Plus, it was my first legit hike so I'm not in hiking shape either. (hiking the bluffs in La Crosse just won't be good enough
for me anymore once I return home).
After 2.5 hours of hiking we got to the bottom of Mt. Doom (from the Lord of the Rings). It's actual name is Ngauruhoe Summit and we decided to climb it. It didn't look that bad from the bottom but it was rough! The mountain is at a 45 degree angle and there was no set trail. Multiple times someone in our group would say "which way should we go now," and they would get the response, "UP!" It was basically like rock climbing. Some spots were sandy/had loose rocks so when I took a step, I would go three steps down. While hiking I kept looking towards the top because it seemed like it was never ending and like we were never going to get to the top. There were times when we thought we were at the top and realized we still had a long way to go. Once we were about 3/4 the way to the top it started to get a little scary. I would look down and think that it would be a long way to fall if I took a wrong step or grabbed a rock
that looked sturdy but in reality wasn't. It's hard to explain exactly what it was like to climb Mt. Doom and the pictures don't really give it justice! However, when we finally reached the top there was a gorgeous view. We were higher then some clouds and we could see Blue Lake in the distance. Since it's a volcano there wasn't a lot of safe walking room around the ring and the inside of it just dropped off. We sat up on top for a little bit to wait for the rest of our group and we had a little lunch.
Even though climbing up was a little scary at times I was nervous for going down. However, we found a section which was more loose. We then proceeded to step and slide, step and slide. When we "slid," it was probably about three feet each time. After awhile I got pretty good at this and started going pretty fast. This process filled my shoes up with small rocks and tore up the bottom of my shoes, but I feel it was the safest and easiest way to get back down to the bottom. Two others and I got
down to the bottom in roughly 30 minutes. However, we then had to wait an hour for the rest of our group to show up. This gave us some time to empty our shoes and switch socks and what not.
Once we were all united again we continued with the trail and we still had about 4.5 hours to go. We eventually got to Emerald Lakes which were absolutely gorgeous. They were a sweet blue-green color, but contain sulfur which made them smell a little bit. When we walked up to them we saw some guy filling his water bottle in the lake. Some other person told him that's a good idea at all. Ha We walked a little bit more and reached Blue Lake. It wasn't as green-looking as the Emerald lakes but it was a lot bigger. At this point we had about two hours left to hike! Once we got to the other side of the mountains everything started to turn green. It was weird because we were hiking in what looked like dry desert and then, all of a sudden, we were in the middle of a forest-looking surrounding, with a river flowing nearby. Even
in the green area though there are no animals. It's so weird to me that New Zealand doesn't really have animals because I'm so used to them being around all the time at home.
By the time we were all done everyone was exhausted. We made dinner and then had a campfire. A nice and relaxing St. Patty's day night for us.
The next day we went to the Taupo airport so we could go skydiving. Not everyone jumped and half of us jumped through a different company even though we all booked through Base. It was weird and confusing, but it all worked out in the end. I jumped at 12,000 feet which is 45 seconds of free-fall. It was absolutely amazing! I thought I would be nervous once I was in the plane and about to jump but it all happened so fast that I wasn't scared at all. I think I was more scared climbing certain parts of Mt. Doom than I was skydiving. Anyway once I jumped I knew my ears would most likely pop, but I didn't think it would happen the entire way down. In fact, they didn't feel normal for about
a half hour after I reached the ground. When I jumped we went through a cloud which was a neat experience. I could tell that is was a little colder and I was surrounded by white! Once Andrew (my tandem guide) pulled the parachute I focused more on scenic view! It was breathtaking! We jumped right by lake Taupo, so that made it sweet as. We had a very smooth landing on our feet (Everyone else landed on the butts). When I was down on the ground I wanted to go again!! It was a blast!!
Before we drove back home we stopped at a waterfall in Taupo. It was a gorgeous color blue. The amount of water that flows over the edge could fill five olympic pools in one mintue! That's crazy.
Like I said it was a pretty epic weekend and I'm glad I went on this weekend trip.
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