February 14 was not a traditional day of chocolates and flowers, yet it contained both.
A super-early pickup by AdventureHQ had me dropped to the northern (Ketetahi) end of the Tongariro Crossing. We drove through heavy showers and the sky was thick with cloud. Had I missed my chance yesterday for a sunny crossing?
Undeterred, I started climbing. On this side of the mountain the sun was shining and I had glorious views all the way back to where I had walked previously. The wind was blowing the tussock grasses to mimic the fur on a pussy cat. Below me, clouds were billowing around the hills surrounding Lake Rotoaira. Mountain flowers (awwwww!) swayed in the breeze.
I was in love with Mother Nature.
On reaching the Blue Lake, the cloud started spilling cross the peaks, obscuring clear views and dropping the temperature. Across the moon-scape I could see ant-like figures scurrying down the steep slopes… I don’t have to climb that, do I?!
Stupid Man of the Day Award: a gentleman of Asian persuasian, sweating perfusely having crested the summit despite the freezing wind, wearing just business shirt and pants, carrying a bottle of water and loaf of bread, at least two more hours of cold temperatures to go. What a twit.
It was eerie standing in the middle of Red Crater in white-out cloud, absolutely silent with no wind, no-one in view. Watch for the video clip appearing on YouTube soon…
The valley stretched out before me as I descended to Mangatepopo Hut for a refreshing orange and chat with Doug from Toronto. Then I passed a lady wearing a UK iScout shirt – chatting with Alyson, I found out she was from the 3rd Harrogate (UK) Scout Group, in New Zealand with her sons Simon and Michael for a family wedding. I tell you, Scouts are everywhere! 🙂
Another three hours had me pitching my tent at Whakapapa Holiay Park and discovering Whittaker’s Peanut block chocolate tastes just like their Peanut Slabs! A perfect ending to Valentine’s Day.