Tongariro Summit

 

A few days ago a couple of friends and I decided to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. We got up super early at 6am and the vibe was positive, the motivation was high. 19.4km and more than 1000 meters altitude difference were waiting for us.

 

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It was a bit fogged up already when we started our hike, however the hope that it would clear up the higher we get was strong. It actually was somewhat relaxing to see nothing but your path for a while. The hike felt really easy at that point and we constantly switched from wearing 2 jackets to running around in t-shirts because the wind would pick up but then it would stop again.

It all changed when we reached an altitude of about 1500m. The wind was blowing and it started to rain. Also, the hope for a clear sky was slowly leaving us. Our pants were starting to get wet and the rain jackets were reaching their limits. I was really happy to have my proper hiking boots because they were the only dry thing left at one point.

 

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We should’ve stopped there

After about 7km into the hike is the junction for a 3km return trip to the actual top of Mt. Tongariro. I was somewhat stupid enough to have the ambition to do that ”short“ detour. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation this extreme. We were walking on the ridge and if you fell down, you would just fall into white nothing. The wind was pushing so hard, I was expecting a gust to take me away any second.

 

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Back at the junction we still had more than 11km ahead of us – and were soaking wet. My brain had turned itself off and the only thing my body did was walk. No breaks, no rest, just walk until it ends. We actually came past the more or less famous emerald lakes however we barely saw them. Towards the end I couldn’t really feel my legs anymore. I am surprised they still were able to carry me. When I finally reached the ”finish line“ it was the greatest relief ever. All my energy had been put into walking and the only thing I was looking forward to was that moment: stop walking, untie your shoes and take off your backpack.

 

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Its surprising I still enjoyed the hike although the conditions were that bad. I might actually repeat it on a day with better weather just to see what the view actually is like.

 

Nicolas Markschat

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