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Thursday, July 7, 2011

New Zealand :: Mount Doom!

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One of the most rewarding day-hikes in my experience, New Zealand’s Tongariro Crossing (aka Mount Doom) had a ridiculously fantastic range of landscapes to enjoy. Volcanic rocks and ash, lush vegetation, sulphuric lakes, forests…such a great day. It starts off quite easy – a wooden footpath, little cascading waterfalls, and bushy little plants…the beginning of a photographer’s dream :-)
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Tongariro-9There were giant volcanic rocks everywhere, tinged with red – but they were incredibly light and fragile! We were able to pick them up quite easily. It reminded me of the William Shatner fight scene.

As we moved up, the air became colder and I shamelessly pulled on a pair of extra socks over my hands as the wind started to chap them. I couldn’t resist making a nerdy joke with my iron ring. The entire trek was rewarding – as we neared the top, the view changed and became more and more amazing. I crept to a ledge for a photo-op – the potential drop was far more impressive than the picture suggests!
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The top was super cold, but the ground was warm to touch – it was phenomenal! We buried our hands into the dirt and enjoyed the warmth before slipping and sliding down the other end of the summit, away from the rusty red crater and towards the surreal-coloured lakes:
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No, we did not go swimming but we near-demolished an entire jar of Nutella. Mmm. Benefits of travelling with a German – they loooove Nutella too!
From here, we continued past the lakes, added our stones to the pile (a tradition I thought was only common in North America!) and made our way through an open field. Things became green again…and we passed several smoking springs. It was neat to see the smoke spiral out of the grass.
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Beyond this point, the trail enters a forest – but no pictures were taken as we sprinted our way down to catch the return bus in time (as you may have guessed, the trip is not a loop – so many use a bus service or hitchhike).
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While racing down the mountain, I pleasantly thought that trail running was fun until I faceplanted pretty hard. Ugh. I wish I could say that it only happened once.
And yes…this post was definitely not food-centric but as you can see below I was doing the non-foodie-backpacker diet :-). That included making funny faces with Nutella and crackers!
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