"Are you sure you want to do this? I have 2 good knees and they were both in pain by the time I got down," Miki, one of the owners of the lodge where we were staying, said to me. "Some parts can be very steep and there'll be a lot of steps both going up and down. Think about it," she advised.
The shuttle bus driver who dropped us off at the start point of the Crossing was less diplomatic. "What are you doing here?" he demanded, loud enough for the whole busload of strapping teenage backpackers to hear. I couldn't decide if he was being serious. I had just told him that I'd had 2 knee surgeries and we might be a little behind schedule getting down from the mountain. Would he please wait for us if we weren't back by 4? I felt my ears go hot. I was going to be the stupid old lady holding everyone up today. Sadly, no witty retort came to mind and I was suddenly filled with doubt.
Write ups on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing describe it as a one day walk, requiring anywhere between 6 to 8 hours of steady walking. It ascends for about 800 metres, descends about 1200 metres and the highest point of the crossing is 1886 metres at Red Crater.
We were told though, that the Crossing could be done by a fit person, without stops, in 5 to 6 hours. In the end, it took us oldies just over 7. We got to the pickup point at 3.15, hurrah for us.
The slow pace was
While on the bus returning to the lodge, I read the pamphlet that Miki had passed me about the Crossing, and learnt that her husband Callum holds the world record for completing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. He ran it, in 1 hour and 25 minutes. The mind boggles. This record was set a long time ago, around 2000, 2001. No one has yet broken it. According to his website, the youngest person to have made the Crossing was 5. The oldest, 94.
Am I glad I didn't chicken out.
This crappy picture was taken on my iPhone. I will upload pictures from the camera when we get home. If you want to see more of Mordor, stay tuned!
Remember! You don't have to comment on these posts from the road! Almost 2 weeks down, 2 more to go. In Wellington now. Very pretty, too cold.