Day 5: Tongariro Crossing and Mount Doom
Possibly the hardest thing that I have ever done. The Tongariro Crossing is 19.4km and takes about 6 hours. About 6km in, (after one section that involves an hour of walking up stairs) you have to decide if you want to add 2-3 hours to your hike and climb the famous Mount Doom.
I’m very glad I decided to climb it, but I think it could’ve been explained more clearly that you’re pretty much climbing on your hands and knees up loose rocks and dirt and not along a real path. It was really difficult. At one point, someone accidentally sent a small boulder flying down the mountain and it almost hit two girls (who subsequently decided to turn around and not do the hike).
The view at the top of Mount Doom was amazing, on the moments when the clouds/fog cleared away. It took us longer than normal (I think) because we couldn’t seem to find the routes that everyone else took up.
The way down Mount Doom made the way up look like a breeze. I’ve never come so close to doing the splits than when I was slipping and sliding down that mountain. Every step has to be sideways as your feet go calf-deep in dirt before somewhat staying still so you can move your next foot.
My shoes were an inch deep with rocks when I took them off at the bottom. And when I got back to the hostel and took a shower, my hands were burning from scraping then on all of those rocks.
After getting back down Mount Doom, it hits you that you still have about 12km left of the hike. And it’s not all easy. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it when one uphill turned into another and then another. Natasha went on ahead of David and I to try to catch an earlier bus, but we made up a lot of ground when we finally got to the miles of downhill.
The last 45 minutes were torture though. You keep thinking that around this bend is going to be the parking lot but it never was. We fell asleep on the bus ride back and treated ourselves to five dollar Domino’s when we arrived in Taupo.
All in all, a pretty successful day and a big feeling of accomplishment afterwards.