Tongariro Crossing in REAL WEATHER!
Trip Start Dec 01, 2009
24Trip End Jan 23, 2010
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It's kind of a home coming for me--a return to National Park and my brudda Kip takes me way back to 1986. I was an exchange student then, Kip my host and Mt. Ruapehu the place I first learned to ski.
We met up with Kip at the local backpackers hostel in National Park for a hearty egg breakfast to fuel us for our intended outing: the "must do" Tongariro Crossing. The weather looked questionable but was forecasted to improve so we went for it.
Kip was the largely the same as I remember, although taller, deeper voiced and with a smoother head. He still is energetic, fun-silly, and a bloody good host.
After dropping our car at his place (Sir Ed Hillary's Outdoor Pursuit Center: another spot of fond memories for me), we drove up to Mangatepopo trail head intent on climbing the saddle between Mts
We dropped down to a small crater lake and out of the wind for a cuppa coffee: freshly brewed by Kip! Also enjoyed some chocolate, good cheese and sausage. Then we dropped further to the Emerald Lakes and Blue Lake. The wind's constant shifting allowed us different but brief views. The landscape of "red crater" was quite desolate except for a few flowers, reminding us of Death Valley but with more weather.
As we started to descend the other side of Mt. Tongariro the weather got worse (maybe just different). Can't say we really suffered. I think we smiled through all of it. We increased our pace and sped down the mountain trying not to slip in the down-pouring rain. The end of the hike was in a sweet bit of wet "bush". Sunlight sparkled through the canopy, leaving glistening droplets on ferns in every shade of green imaginable. Kip gave us a quick botany tour then his friend, "B," picked us up to return to the OPC.
Kip put us up in the communal staff building back at the Center after serving a huge tray of appetizers followed by an excellent curry chicken and kumara dinner. We enjoyed catching up and showing each other photos.
Congrats to Kip on his very recent promotion to OPC manager!