Due to the weather being terrible when I was due to do the Tongariro Crossing, I made the call to not do it and take a rest day and make this day up later. This was a moment I was dreading as it was not possible for me to move all my days along one, I had to stick to my schedule. I just had to miss out this day and carry on with the days ahead.
So yesterday, Thursday 22nd January 2015, I have gone and walked the Tongariro Crossing to make up for the IOU day. I had Gayle (walked with me for Day 1 and 3) and her brother join me, along with hundreds of other walkers, due to this being the busy season.
We had a slow time getting to the start, a two hour drive from Rotorua and then a 45 minute wait for the shuttle. A half hour shuttle ride and finally we started at 10am. The beginning was flat and a board walk. Mt Ngarahoe loomed above us and a stream meandered beside us. The weather was perfect with a sunny day but also providing enough cloud cover so we weren’t cooking.
After the first hour, we had a toilet break and I checked my heel as I had felt some rubbing. I couldn’t believe it as I had walked the whole North Island without a blister and today here is my first blister. Gayle suggested that due to a month of living in jandals and not shoes my feet were soft and vunerable. I put on a blister plaster and got on with it.
We then headed into the stair climbing part and had breaks turning to look at the incredible view behind us. We could see all the way to Mt Taranaki, that could be made out faintly in the distance.
A flat part then stretched ahead of us and it became obvious how many other people were walking the trail today also. They seemed like little ants milling all over the place. It is fantastic that so many people do walk the Crossing but there are so many other great walks out there.
The scree slope was next and this had some people losing footing and skidding around. You had to pick your footing carefully and use the big rocks to get up the hill. On the downside of the scree it was like skiing. I tackled it with sideways steps and each foot plant slid my foot down the scree and waffed dust upwards. The view down was stunning to the small crater lakes.
At the bottom, I sat and emptied out my shoes. This was the half way point and we just had a small up hill left and then the rest of the day was downhill. The path headed to the other side of Tongariro and we looked over Lake Rotoraia and Lake Taupo. The track then snaked in switch backs down to Ketetahi Hut.
We zoomed down the hill and made it out to the end just over five hours walking. On the drive home we of course had a short stop in Turangi for an ice cream, that was well earned.
Now I can really celebrate completing the North Island…yay!