© 2010 J&K

The Alpine Crossing

We woke up next to the beautiful Whanganui River and spent a lazy morning with coffee and even a bit of yoga on the grass. We finished the rest of the pretty river drive and then started our way inland to Tongariro National Park. We camped with two mountains in the distance, one of them Mt Ngauruhoe (better know to you Lord of the Rings fans as Mt Doom), and both of which would form the guardrails for the 20 km alpine crossing scheduled the next day.

We lazed the day away with brie, crackers and chutney (as well as cards and our books – Kelly finished Born to Run and Jeff finished Bone People) before hitting the trails for an early evening run. While cooking in our van, we rushed outside to catch a vibrant pink sunset that filled the sky.

Since our alpine crossing was ahead of us, we had heaping banana chocolate pancakes and packed our snack pack for the day of sandwiches (bringing an avocado with us to assemble on mountain), granola bars, RJs licorice, apples and two big gatorades. The way the crossing works is you drive to a shop where you drop off your car, they shuttle you to the start and then they pick you up when you finish. We choose to start at 8 am which means we had our soles hitting the trail by 8:30 am. The crossing is known as the best one day hike in New Zealand, covering 19.4 km with beautiful craters, lakes, and summits. Unfortunately it was a bit cloudy in the morning but it turned out great as it made the start of the hike more mysterious (people disappear into the fog 40 meters in front of you). After an hour and a half into the hike, we came to a decision point where you can turn to climb to the summit of Mt Doom (adding 3 hours return) or stay straight to continue ahead. We thought it would be great to climb it but the cloud cover was even heavier now, meaning you couldn’t see where to go and it is an unmarked scramble straight up the hill. We used our better judgement and kept on walking…

That is, until we took ten steps past the turn off and the clouds mysteriously parted so we could see the summit. Of course we had to climb it, adding on additional kilometers and what would be one of the most grueling uphills either of us has completed. You pick a straight route up the mountain and climb, often on all fours as many areas are soft and you slide down with each step, making one step forward more like a half a step. You also have to be careful not to trigger a rock, sending it tumbling down the mountain towards another hiker below. We booked it up the mountain, eventually hitting the top (after Kelly got to play in snow on the way up) in a little over an hour. We enjoyed the beautiful views before spotting someone climbing naked down into the crater of the mountain. We decided against staying around to see what he was up to and started inching our way down, that is, until we found the scree section. Scree is small, loose rock on the side of the mountain that you can fly down, almost as if you were skiing. Kelly took off like a bullet and we made it down in a jiffy. At the bottom we both looked at each other, rushing to shout “that was awesome!”. The extra climb that felt like it would never end turned out to be totally worth it.

The rest of the hike climbed past gorgeous, vibrant turquoise lakes (that reeked of sulphur), a red crater, a larger emerald lake, and endless beautiful scenery. We hit the finish at 3:30 pm, making for a solid day of hiking that would be sure to leave us a bit sore the next day. To celebrate, we drank a bottle of wine and made tacos with beef, spicy black beans, avocado and colby cheese. We even attempted to make cinnamon sugar popcorn which turned out better than expected but could use some refining. We dropped to our beds exhausted, ready for a solid day of rest. But you know us, tomorrow would be anything but…

10 Trackbacks

  1. By Sidney on August 22, 2014 at 10:07 pm



  2. By Marvin on August 23, 2014 at 8:28 am


    спасибо за инфу….

  3. By Troy on August 23, 2014 at 9:05 am



  4. By Herman on August 23, 2014 at 3:08 pm



  5. By Dan on August 24, 2014 at 2:40 am



  6. By Martin on August 24, 2014 at 8:07 pm


    сэнкс за инфу!!…

  7. By vincent on August 24, 2014 at 8:33 pm



  8. By ross on August 26, 2014 at 1:59 pm



  9. By clifford on August 26, 2014 at 4:55 pm



  10. By barry on August 27, 2014 at 3:06 am


    good info!…

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