T & TC

Thanksgiving and the Tongariro Crossing. Which one doesn’t belong in New Zealand!?

Obviously New Zealand didn’t have pilgrims in the way the US does, but Jesse and his brother did their best to give me a Thanksgiving dinner regardless. We are too broke to afford turkey here, so Jesse made a chicken, stuffing isn’t a thing so Jake made dumplings, and I can’t be bothered with green bean casserole so I made a salad. It was perfect. I am thankful for my husband, my family (new and old), for our travels, for our friends, and for my dog, whom I’m really missing!

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I had a few good runs in around Hamilton, including one with a gorgeous sunset over the Waikato fields!

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We traded in our road shoes for our Salomons and gaiters, woke Jake up ridiculously early and drove a few hours south for our first “Great Walk” in New Zealand: The Tongariro Crossing.

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Wikipedia says the following about Tongariro:

The crossing passes over the volcanic terrain of the multi-cratered active volcano Mount Tongariro, passing the eastern base of Mount Ngauruhoe which can optionally be climbed as a side trip.

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With Jesse, you can bet your bottom dollar we summited Mt. Ngauruhoe! I didn’t know this was happening at the time and was surprised when I was told we were adding an additional 3 hours into our walk, but I was quickly on board. I downed my sandwich and we began our ascent.

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Up and up we walked, sometimes hand over foot, often taking only a few steps then stopping for several minutes to catch our breath (I mean the view *ahem*), and to yell “ROCK” to those below us. We climbed a mile up the volcano, reaching about 7,400 feet. Sitting at the edge of the crater eating gummy worms, laughing, taking pictures, and feeling accomplished was definitely a highlight of the day.

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On the way down, we slid on our asses on the snow and did some scree skiing to make up some time. These two things might have been the highlight of the whole day! I was endlessly grateful for my gaiters during all of that!

Side tangent: while we were snacking at the summit, I realized I was missing a glove from my pack. I then realized I hadn’t actually opened the large zipper pocket on my pack at the summit, yet there it sat, wide open, contents visible. My merino hat and buff were missing as well. It occurred to me that at the bottom, when I took out my sandwich, I failed to zip it back up. My heart sank (I get such anxiety over losing favorite and/or expensive items). In the snow on our descent I found my hat and buff, but was still missing a glove. I was feeling seriously down, asking hikers still on their way up if they’d seen it. All said no. Alas, at the bottom, on the top of a reflective pole, someone had left it for me. My childish elation was real and I was ridiculously giddy! (I couldn’t help it, they’re my favorite running gloves!)

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We carried on across the desert…

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Up lots of rocks to the Red Crater…

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Down more sand and scree to the Emerald Lakes…

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And then down, down, down a gravel trail, traversing the hill, overlooking Lake Taupo.

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Through some forested areas and out the other side.

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15 miles. 10 hours. One grand adventure.

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