Our first full day hike – Tongariro Alpine Crossing or Mordor

January 10, 2018 triisguashas 5 comments

Distance: 19.4km
Highest point: 1,886 m
Time: 9.5h

Last week we went on a trip to the North of New Zealand. One of the things planned was hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. For Lord of the Rings fans this place is known as Mordor. This time we decided that we won’t climb Mt Doom (Mt Ngauruhoe). This is not because I didn’t feel prepared enough but because we didn’t have the ring to throw into the summit. We plan to do this another time. (:

In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. Mt Doom we are coming back.

I was scared and excited at the same time because I had seen pictures from there (which were amazing) and I had never hiked mountains for the whole day (which really scared me). Keeping in mind that I don’t like to wander around with any real purpose I was really surprised that I really enjoyed the hike. Edgars, on the other hand, was excited and felt prepared for this. The day before the hiking I made a list of stuff to bring and a plan which included at what time we are waking up, etc. Plan included ‘leaving at 7:30am’ and ‘actually leaving at 7:45’. Who would’ve thought but actually we left only at 8:30am
At 9:10 Me, Edgars, my sister Aija and her daughter Matilde started our hike.

I would walk 500 miles
Aija walking happily
Edgars and Matilde having fun hiking

The weather was nice, it was refreshing and not hot. The most important – it didn’t rain (couple of days before it was raining 100mm per day – which I think is abnormal).

Edgars and Matilde. Just taking a selfie
All 4 of us, still happy, still excited, still together
Just a nice picture with the waterfall
Edgars and Matilde posing for the picture and enjoying the view

After ~5km it was time for Aija and Matilde to turn back. After this point started the Devil’s staircase. From the name of it you can imagine why it was best for them to walk back. So we rested for some time, ate some snacks, took the last group photo and wished each other luck (because Aija and Matilde still had 5km to go back and we had 15 km more)

Aija and Matilde enjoying the break
Last group picture. After 5 minutes Aija and Matilde went back and we started to do the hard part

Edgars and Zanda – the Hikers
Our path continued. The Devil’s staircase was quite hard but I would say it was shorter than I expected. I told Edgars: “I think we will go into the cloud in a moment. I was excited and I didn’t realize that we will be in a cloud for couple of hours more.

The sign warning me that maybe I am not ready to do this and I should turn back. Please read further.. (:
Big rock. “Zanda, go stand next to the rock, I will take a picture”, said Edgars

We climbed the highest point from which we should see the red crater, but we didn’t see anything.

Hiking in the cloud. Actually it was quite interesting because it’s not often you can do something like that

As the most important part for me in this hike was the Emerald lakes we continued to hike. It was a really steep downhill in front of us and we couldn’t see almost anything around you, it was a bit scary but we continued.

Sliding down in the sand when you see only 1m in front of you. It wasn’t as fun as it could have been without the cloud

Emerald lakes.
At last we reached Emerald lakes. Everybody was having their lunch next to the lake and so did we. We checked out the lake and decided that we will definitely come back because we don’t see a thing. Disappointment all over the place. The cloud that made me so happy at first, made me so angry now.

There were the famous Emerald lakes but we didn’t see them because of the cloud.
Lakin’ next to the famous Emerald lake in the cloud

We sat down on the perfect rock that I found for us and we started to eat lunch when suddenly the wind blew away the cloud. Everybody started running around and taking pictures, one lady screamed: “Here is another one”(she was talking about the lake). We realized that this will happen again. I started to climb back up the mountain to see the lakes from above. I never thought that I will climb it twice. That’s when it got AMAZING. The view was really breathtaking.

Emerald
The Emerald lakes. There were 3 lakes and the color of the water in them is definitely like emerald
Amazing color, amazing view. So happy to be here
Edgars enjoying the minute when the wind blew the cloud away

We ate, rested and started our way further. We still had 10km left, mostly downhill. Some people told me that it’s easier to go downhill, but I can assure you IT’S NOT. After an hour my knee started to hurt so bad that I told Edgars that we need to call an Uber or at least Medicopter. Our speed reduced at least 3 times, everybody was passing us and I thought that I will never make it. I told him to ‘Save Yourself and leave me’. But he declined my lovely offer.

I told Edgars that I take my words back, I will never repeat this hike. I was so angry because I thought I will be very tired etc, but actually the only thing keeping us back was my old knee injury.
We walked really slow for ~3.5 hours, though we took some nice pictures because the weather was becoming better. We even saw some sun. (In the evening I noticed that my face was even burned from the sun)

Walking really slowly
Selfie with the amazing view
Edgars trying to look cool in picture
Still some clouds but still amazing view
Very blurry Edgars
Love is in the air
2 worlds come together – grey clouds and the perfect place
We didn’t drink our beer at Emerald lakes because of the weather. But this spot was perfect to relax and drink the beer that was carried for ~13km

At one moment I realized that my knee is not hurting anymore. I still don’t understand if I just got used to the pain or it really disappeared (because there wasn’t actually any reason for it to disappear). We increased our speed and we were so happy. I told Edgars that at that moment I am taking my words back again. I do want to repeat this hike DEFINITELY. Last kilometers were in the jungle.

Edgars trying to look cool again
This sign made my next 700m almost a nightmare

Lahar danger. The fact that we are not native English speakers made me paranoid. We didn’t know what is Lahar. The first thing that came to my mind was crocodiles. Edgars was laughing at me but I was almost running and looking around me and listening to all the small noises like a psycho. I was so relieved when we saw that the danger is over. These were really fast 700m.
*Definition of Lahar: a destructive mud flow on the slopes of a volcano. (still a bit scary).

After 9.5h we were at the end. So relieved and happy. It was an amazing day and I would suggest everyone to hike Tongariro Alpine crossing if you are in New Zealand.

Definitely this was the most amazing hike we have done this far.

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