Tongariro Northern Circuit: Three Days on A Great Walk, Day Three

TongariroDay3

The morning came, and with it, the rain. We bundled up in extensive rain gear and headed off into the drizzle. The group pace that was initially set kept me decently comfortable and warm. As the day continued, however, we broke off into smaller sections, with the boys pulling ahead and Averie and Sydney falling behind due to rain cover issues. The rest of my hike was solitary, with just the rain, my thoughts, and plenty of mud to keep me company.

Luckily, rain is a powerful motivator. I could’ve tried out for the Olympic Walking team that day and had a pretty good shot, which means I stayed warm, and also, I shaved about a 3rd of the estimated time off the day.

As the trail meandered its way through ravines intermittently broken up by small plains with merciless wind, puddles and streams were forming and growing by the minute. Initially I avoided them, but that ended quickly when I detoured up a muddy bank and immediately slipped sideways, leaving my right side newly mud-covered and somehow more thoroughly soaked than before.

I tramped on with renewed apathy, having become one with the landscape. The gray, drizzly landscape.

photo 1
Sweet sweet misery

Finally. Finally, I stumbled into civilization – but there was a problem. My hands no longer knew how to be hands. I had no hope of getting to my keys. After coming all this way, I was going to die in the parking lot right outside of my salvation.

Or I could have if the visitor center didn’t let me drip on their nice floor for ten minutes until I could at least grasp like a human again.

I ran to the car, struggled pathetically with the lock, then the ignition, and finally the heat. I ,eventually managed to turn it on, and sat, violently shaking, until the car warmed up enough to be effective. 20 minutes later, the car was practically a sauna and Sydney and Averie appeared around the corner looking like drowned rats. Apparently Sydney hadn’t had enough torture, because he went on to officially complete the circuit with the final 3 hour leg.

The Department of Conservation estimates that this section of trail should take about 5 hours and has lovely views of both mountains in the park. I did it in 3 and a half hours and it had lovely views of gray and more gray.

That night, we all stayed at something called a “skotel” (ski hotel…?). I took the longest, hottest shower of my life and enjoyed the rest of the night filled with chips (french fries), cheese and crackers, and entirely too much wine.

Kayleigh’s Overall Rating: 9/10 footprints – one footprint washed away in the rain

 

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