An early start and a hourish long bus ride brought me to the mangatepopo car park at the start of the 19km track. I got a bag , extended my poles, and headed onward. All was well and then the Devil's staircase was ahead. The climbing up the mountains had truly started. The trekking poles have proved to be a precious commodity. I rested a lot as I went up. Met a gal from Ireland I walked with for the rest of the time.
Finally got to where the official mount ngauruhoe summit track started. I debated for a few minutes. I had come to climb it but I had many more miles to go and I was already starting to hurt. So I decided that climbing at the base of it counted to me. More impressive pictures from afar anyway.
At that point I linked up with a guy from London I had met on the bus that picked me up from my failed Te Araroa trek walk. So the three of us traveled the rest of the trail together, all the steep ascents, terrifying descents down slippery scree, and the stairs that never seemed to end. We finally finished, well before pick up time. I used to think the Army was unique in the way it bonded people, but turns out it's not that, but ANY trying experience endured with others that can do it.
I didn't realize exactly how much I had been relying on my poles until we went to check the bus and I left them. My knees, which had given out a couple times while tramping, barely held me up. The pain will come tonight and tomorrow... All the walking followed by sitting on a bus for hours... Luckily I won't have any other day hikes this trip so I can baby myself again until I get home and see a doctor.
Took a long and lovely hot shower, put on some clean clothes and grabbed dinner to eat by the lake. Seafood fritter and garlic chips. Sill funny to me that chips are fries. It was delicious. Seafood here tastes fresh.
I am all packed up again for tomorrow, just the essentials left out. It's a late bus morning which is refreshing after the early morning today. Then off to Wellington for a day tour.