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Published: March 17th 2016
I'm sitting on the bench outside my youth hostel in the dark at 5.45am! This ridiculous state of affairs actually has a reasonable explanation. Today I'm trekking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing come rain or shine and I'm waiting for a shuttle bus to take me to the start. After about an hour's drive being inflicted with 'Shite pop music punctuated with inane small-talk babble Morning Show, Taupo 97.6FM' we are dropped off at the start of the trail. But first I have a geocache to pick up. With the massed hoards waiting to set off I'm surprised no-one else is searching.
And so I set off along the trail trying to work myself into a gap between groups of people and their incessant chattering. Can you pick up a theme here? I absolutely detest small-talk, especially when it's other people's and I just want to be quiet within my own thoughts.
The mountain tops are shrouded in fog and there's a light drizzle. It's not looking like we'll be blessed with any sun today. I spot lots of interesting plants along the first section which is lovely and flat. Some sections are board walks. I find noisy people keep
catching me up so let them pass. They will knacker themselves out before they even get to the first up section.
When it comes it's a bit of a killer so I do my usual steady and slow. I'm like some sloth wading through uphill treacle compared to other people bounding up. The higher we go the mistier it gets. When we get to the first 'top' I have a bit of lunch - it's only just after 10am! Next comes another flat section with poles marking the way. By now it's so foggy you can only just see the next pole ahead. Views are zero. It's such a shame, but there's nothing I can do about it so make the most of the situation and take a load of silly pulled faces photos.
I'm now pushing for the top, or so I find out when I finally make it there. Obviously in the fog and rain it isn't possible to see where you're headed, which in this case is probably a blessing as it's so steep and knackering so it's therefore good not knowing how much more UP you have to face.
It's so windy, rainy
and foggy at the top, I'm quite overcome with the utter ridiculousness of the whole situation and take some silly photos that seem to match the situation. A little way down the other side we happen upon what in sunny weather would be a stunning view of the colourful emerald lakes. We can just about make them out through the fog. Luckily you can walk right down to their shores and the whole situation takes on a surreal quality with mist swirling around the colourful lakes blending them into their backgrounds.
This is the last thing of any interest to see and the ups become horrible with nothing to stop and look back at and the downs inutterably tiresome and soooo long. I'm really good at downs and now I'm the one overtaking, skipping down the rocky paths and steps like a mountain goat. But even I can't keep this up as the down goes on forever. I keep thinking the next corner MUST be the finishing point, but no such luck. Instead I'm faced with a sign saying it's another 45 minutes to the end! This last section is really hard. It's in woodland, so still no views
to interrupt the walking hell - hell because knees are starting to hurt at all the steps and slopes.
The relief at hearing a school group ahead cheer as they obviously see the car park is fantastic. I made it across in 6 and a half hours. Not bad considering it's supposed to take from 6 to 9 hours. Maybe one day I'll get the chance to do the walk in better weather. Despite the bad conditions I'm feeling chuffed at having made it across with no mishaps and in good time.
The hot shower I have when I get back to the hostel is orgasmic wonderment.
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