Archive for October, 2017

October 22, 2017

My First NZ Hike.

Jeisson and Ana were very kind to invite me to this hike they planned on going, I probably wouldn’t have gone if it wasn’t for them convincing me that it was an easy track which will only require me to walk. They told me that it will take between 6 to 8 hours to complete. When I heard that I was a bit intimidated and thought surely a track that loong couldn’t be just an easy walk! And I was right. They just managed to trick me into going!

Ana basically made all the arrangements for accommodation, transport and everything else down to the food! I was not given any itinerary or plan, so I didn’t realize we were supposed to be sharing food so I brought my own grocery bag with me with tons of easy cooking stuff like instant noodles, instant oatmeal, a bunch of bananas, apples and most importantly, lots of chocolate snacks for the hike!

This was the room at the Tongariro Family Park that Ana got for us three ladies, Andrea, Angie and myself. It was a small room but comfortable enough for us to crash for two nights. Good thing there was a heater in the room as I didn’t bring enough thick clothing with me as I assumed it was just a walk across the alpines but not exactly climbing them so it shouldn’t be too cold. Boy was I wrong!

The recommendation was that we had to bring our own sheets and blankets as those are not provided. I didn’t want to carry too much things with me so I went with a sleeping bag that could work as a blanket. It served its purpose well especially with the help of the heater in the room.

One thing I have to mention, is that this camp site has no signal at all for phones! At least for Vodafone of course (Andrea was using Spark and she was able to communicate with her family across the globe), I wasn’t able to tell my family I arrived safely, I wasn’t able to kill time using my phone while everyone else was just speaking in their own language. Urgh.. it was pretty frustrating.

They did have a shared kitchen area which we could use to prepare our meals for the hike as well as for the duration of our stay there. Even though we arrived at the place around Friday midnight, we still had to wake up early around 5am the next morning so we could get our packed meals for the hike ready.

After having our breakfast and packed lunch, we waited for the shuttles to arrive that would take us to the starting point of the hike. We had to pay $35 NZD each in cash because they didn’t have an eftpos machine so I was really glad I came prepared and brought cash with me.

We must have arrived at the starting point around 8am, and I was surprised to see soooo many people also doing the hike! Even some senior citizens too! Wow respect to them for conquering this track and those many stairs we had to go through to reach the top!

19.4 KM is probably a breakthrough for me. The last hike I did back in the Philippines was in 2014 for my 32nd birthday (Pico De Loro and I also had a post about it here). If I were to compare both hikes, time wise its pretty much the same, it was also a whole day hike for Pico De Loro, but this one definitely had more scenic views,  and perhaps was more difficult as I age and also had to carry more of my own body weight in this journey.

Just a few minutes into the trek, I could already see Mt Ngauruhoe in the backgroud topped with snow/ice. I had to do lots of selfie shots since I was alone most of the time no thanks to Jeisson and Ana. Everyone else also seemed to be hurrying up and I’m thinking whats wrong with these people? You should be walking the trek to soak in all the views and smell the mountains and fresh air! Not rush through it just to tick a bucket list! Tsk!

This was halfway though what they called the “Devil’s Staircase” because it was just non stop staircases hard ascent towards the South Crater.

It felt amazing to be up close and personal with these mountains surrounding you. This was by far one of my favorite views in all of the hikes that I did.

Oh lookie here! I even got to stand in the snow! or Ice! One thing I did wish I had gotten for this journey was a good pair of trekking boots. Especially with all that ice and mud we had to walk through, my good old Asics running shoe had all burned out from this 19.4km trek.

This part going up to the Red Crater Ridge was probably the most challenging for me. I was so afraid of falling I had to stop numerous times just to let people pass by me so I could take my time and take the right steps so that the loose rocks won’t take me down with them. There was even a point where the ascent was so steep there was a chain fastened to the rocks to give some support for you to pull yourself up.

Not to mention these wires that was available for you to hold on to as you continue the trek upwards. I haven’t felt like I had any fear of heights in my life until this day. As much as I want to see the beautiful view I had to tell myself not to look down a few times cos I felt like I was gonna topple over!

Finally reached the Red Crater Ridge but I didn’t want to get to close to the edge so I just took a selfie which could show the slightly maroon-ish brown colors of the crater behind me.

Good thing when I got to the Red Crater Summit, Ana and Jeisson were there eating their packed lunch and enjoying the beautiful view of the Blue Lakes at the far end, and the Emerald Lakes on the right. Although the brochure we got from the shuttle driver says that it was an easy descent from the Red Crater Summit to the Emerald Lakes, it was easier said than done. The scree was loose and I fell at least twice on my butt because I slipped. Thankfully I didn’t roll all the way down but I did get a lot of volcanic sand and dirt into my shoes and socks!

The Emerald Lakes was nothing compared to the Blue Lake. The water was just so blue and it looked like the surface had crystals sparkling with the reflection from the sun! I wished I had taken a video while I was there but man, the wind was so strong even at my weight I felt like I could be blown away! It was hard enough to hold my hands steady to do a photo, let alone make a video! Plus, it was already about 1pm when we got to the Blue Lake and we really needed to get going if we wanted to make it to the shuttle on time. Therefore we didn’t stay there very long even though I wished I could have.

From the Blue Lake down to the Ketetahi Car park, it was pretty much downhill all the way. My knees were starting to hurt as we had to step down on many stairs downwards and I think it took a toll on my knees. Talk about being old!!

Plus, there wasn’t much of a view downhill so I didn’t take much photos except one selfie or two just to show what the surrounding was like going down.

I arrived at the car park around 3:30pm so I think it was not too bad, I did quite well for my own record. I think if I had stopped more often for photos, I probably wouldn’t make it to the last shuttle which was at 4:30pm!

So we took the same shuttle back to our campsite at the Tongariro Family Park, took a shower and also took a nap before our late dinner at 9pm.

I have to say, I’m glad I made the trip despite being hesitant at first. My own excuse and tactic to convince myself was that it would be a trip to continue the tradition I was starting in which I would climb a mountain or hike to celebrate another year of my life and to tell myself that I can do it and that I am capable of achieving and conquering these mountains in life even as I grow older.

I did feel like an outsider for the most part because the group I traveled with were all Colombians and they were all speaking in Spanish even though Jeisson said he would make them speak English -_- I do appreciate their efforts to sometimes have a conversation with me, but mostly I am thankful that I got the invite for this adventure even if its for my own sake. Plus, the sharing of the cost helped lower down the budget for this trip which I give my hats off to Ana for organizing everything and all I did was tagged along. It was about $110 NZD for the whole trip per person, but I spent a bit more on my food so I would say about $190 all in. Not too bad for a trip that long and the comfort of our own rental car to get there.

I just wished I had someone to walk with me and share the journey with instead of people just leaving me to be alone during the hike. I know I wouldn’t leave a friend behind and would walk with them if they were alone. Oh well, different perspective I guess. It did make me realize what I can expect when I go with certain groups of friends so in the future I will know to say NO or get someone who will come with me and keep me company throughout the journey ;-P