Friday, May 24, 2013

Thoughts from Mount Doom.

Day 9 of the road trip. (3 days ago.)

"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 probably my fault. Despite my 10 years of hard core (haha) capoeira training, I had to stop often to gasp for air, still my pounding heart and ask myself what I was doing there. (To be fair to me, I was also in charge of taking pictures and there was no shortage of things to shoot.) I'm sure the ever-competitive Cushion could have completed the Crossing in less time on his own, and he'll be pleased I mentioned this.

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.


What Remains Now said...

I'll just leave a little comment...I'm proud of you!

Sherri / 2Rescues said...

What makes the lake in this picture such a pretty color?

H and Flo said...

I'm sorry, but any post that contains the words 'strapping backpackers' requires a comment. Snigger. :)

Well done you and The Cush. Ten years ago I climbed Mt Kinabalu. I wouldn't even nearly contemplate such a thing now... I am very, very impressed. I hope the knees didn't make you pay for it.

Taryn said...

Wow! That sounds like a very ambitious hike!

I definitely want to see more of Mordor!

Pamela said...

But if we don't comment you'll only know we were here by checking your stats. And what fun is that?

Sorry I have no witty or wonderful comment. Except to say I'm very impressed and proud of your hike (way to represent us oldies). And "we are here, we are here, we are heeeeeeeeeere!:

Leslie said...

OH my, I have some catching up on this road trip to do. But I wanted to comment to tell you how excited I am for you. And good for you for not backing out. I hope you didn't pay for that decision later. :]

Anonymous said...

Yay Typist! Sounds fabulously rewarding.

Rose ~ from Oz said...

Haha I've done the Milford Track and my knees were broken on one particular day of the 4 day trek.

Barb said...

You go girl! Glad you weren't talked out of the hike. That crater must have calcium citrate deposits - love the color. I hope Cushion has Arnica in his medical supplies. Stay safe - you must feel better.

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

I leave my climbing to the sand dunes at the beach! Good on you for not getting beaten by a 94 year old ;) I've been to Tongariro but never ventured up the mountain. Stunning scenery isn't it:) I can't believe you think Wellington is cold! Sorry to have missed you in Foxton ... we were probably at the beach, it was a gorgeous day here when you passed through :)

Unknown said...

Dude that's a very long vacation, but I am looking forward to more pictures of Middle Earth.