Guys, How do I blog from the bush??

Ok, some of the lack of blogs is due to lack of desire to do so. I have had some days I could have blogged and I choose not to. That being said, I am now in a part of the world where they don’t build towns and therefore don’t give me opportunities to tell you about all the hills I’m hiking. (They are actually mountains now 😛 )

I’ll catch you up in brief; then you’re probably going to have to wait until March for me to put up all the good parts.

So we summited Mount Doom

Which has a real name–not that I can remember or spell it. It is a part of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing–a one-day trek across a sweet volcano family. Here’s some pictures.

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We camped for a couple days at this Backpackers in National Park Village.
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Sunset views over dinner
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Dressed for the day’s hike. You know–because it’s hot in New Zealand
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On the drive to the crossing

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The hike begins!! (No pack! Left it at the backpackers)
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Tourist line through the volcanic alpine crossing
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Climbing Mt. Doom–level with the clouds
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Mt. Doom is nearly all deep ash–the salvation for climbing it are the few rocky outcroppings. Lots of work to climb in ash.
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Almost to the top of Doom, looking back
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There’s a lake in that crater over there!
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Almost to the top!!!
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Up here the ice freezes sideways as is blows in the wind
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The hobbit made it look so hard…
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Top!
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Always sunscreen on the nose all the time forever

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Guess what the best way to get down a volcano covered in deep ash is–surfing!!!
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We literally surfed our way down the side of Mount Doom…no big deal

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The tourists didn’t have time to summit Mt. Doom; so now they are all gone ahead 🙂

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This tourist wouldn’t (WOULD NOT) get out of my picture. Turned out pretty cool anyway.
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Check out that sky, right??

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He doesn’t want you to see it, but sometimes this is how Georges looks when he hikes

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This is the view hiking down out of the alpine crossing.

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But wait!!!! Did I get a rock from Mount Doom?!???!!

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Well, I took pictures with the rocks.
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And showed my support. (Smiling gets a bit boring?)
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Then Morgan says, “Ok, enough pictures. We’ve got to get down to business; Darlene Business!”
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Oh look! A rock!
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I’ll pick this one.
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Is this a good one?
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What if I pick the wrong one……..??? And so the search began…

 

So that was one of our favorite hikes. The weather was very cold, but the alpine and volcanic surroundings were super cool. We stayed in National Park for a few days after our crossing to wait out some rain. The backpackers had a rock climbing hall, so we spent all our time climbing. We did get to move into a dorm room after a couple (below freezing) nights in the tent.

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Oh, yeah; and this is National Park Village’s Kiwi,

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(Notice the scarves to keep him warm)

The Best Not-On-The-TA Hike Ever: Around the Mountain Track

So, since we had messed up this section of the trail, we decided to hike our way down to Ohakune rather than hitch a ride. Ohakune is where we rented our canoes for the Whanganui River. From Ohakune, the canoe company brought us back north of the volcano area to enter the river as close to the mountain in which it begins as possible (just after the last waterfall). More on that later. Because we had the time, we tried out this Around The Mountain Track to travel from the start of the Tangariro crossing south through Whakapapa Village  and to the Old Mountain Road.

It was amazing. Probably our favorite hike on the North Island.

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The trail hikes around Mt. Ruapehu
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The clouds were quite low
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Awesomely different volcanic landscape
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Nice warm hiking…in our down coats (good looking guy, huh??)

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Nut break!

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Cool moss

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The plants are cancer proof!

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So close to the top of the mountain, lots of waterfalls!
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That’s Georges 🙂 🙂
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Don’t worry they made it to Wellington

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I told him to stop looking so stoic and handsome

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The beauty of this hike was unbelievable.

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I mean seriously…how can something look so awesome??
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Planning our first ever real river crossing–gotta find something safe
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A hut!! (Finally)
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Our favorite hut so far.
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The view from the front door of the hut.

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Did all our laundry
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Built a fantastic, warm fire
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And watched the mountain
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Sunset
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The closest I can bring you to the UNBELIEVABLE stars
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Ready for the day’s hike!!

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The clouds set in/we hiked high enough to enter some COLD clouds
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Marker to marker–don’t get lost

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Surprise! Stairs!
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And just as quickly as the clouds set in, they blew away

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“Lake Surprise” (it’s high up in the alpine and doesn’t drain because the ground is clay)

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I’m sure I said something very funny to get him to smile like that.
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A hut! (Actually, we smelled this one before we saw it….composting toilets)

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Surprise food left behind! Pancake mix!!!

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(Mount Cook is on the south island)
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((Wales is on a very different island))

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We climbed that waterfall–it is part of the trail
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Climbing a snow-melt falls…no big deal
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View from the top of the falls
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View from the middle of the falls
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We exited the track halfway ‘around’ and took Old Mountain Road down to the town at the bottom
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It was a really cool walk to leave the mountain behind and reenter lower elevation and forests again

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So that was the Around the Mountain Track–a MUST for any hiker visiting New Zealand.

Canoeing to the Southern Coast

So we stayed in Ohakune for 5 days waiting out rain before canoeing down the Whanganui River. We stayed with a really kind gentleman, Rob and his wife joined us for a day, Beau. Though we enjoyed and were very grateful for our stay with them–their hospitality was superior and unending–we absolutely do not recommend the canoe hire company we used. We selected YETI TOURS because it was recommended on other blogs, but our experience was very unprofessional and unpleasant. We were quoted different prices every time we called the company and were completely mislead about advertised “free pre-trip accommodations”. I’m not one to post negative info about a company, but when I have more time I will expand upon our experience with Yeti because Georges and I were both so displeased with the company we agreed we would share the information with the big wide web. In the mean time, take our word for it and don’t use Yeti Tours.

That being said, we then canoed down the Whanganui River–which was really cool. It goes through pretty astounding gorges for a few days and then is out in wider forests and pastures. Thanks to not having to carry our food, we ate like champions for that week–5 POUNDS OF CHEESE was consumed. We ate a lot of sandwiches.

We Finished the Last Couple Forests of the North Island

This included the best part of the North Island (after the Around the Mountain Track)–the Tarauas. It’s the only real mountain(ish) range on the island and it was soooo cool. But details will have to wait until another time.

A Couple Beaches and then…..WELLINGTON!!!!!

We made it. We finished the North Island. We made it to Wellington and we made it through every single day.

We also stayed with some AMAZING folks in the days we spent in Wellington. Even now I almost tear up with homesickness…for the homes and love of a few strangers.

I can’t wait to have some more time and tell you the absurd story of the hitch that took us to “Johnsonville”, which is absolutely not on the trail; but you try telling the old man who picked us up to stop…….But in Johnsonville we met Marg, Phil and their sons David and Jamie. We camped on their perfectly manicured grass for three nights and were almost instantaneously adopted as their own children. The love they were able to so easily stretch to cover us was absolutely tangible. The second couple that took us in had offered us a place to stay when we met them earlier–an American couple from Boston–very homey to be back in an American home. Sallie and Brian took exceptional care of us and supported us in all our errands and driving needs. Sallie even helped me get some blood work I was in need of and Brian drove us to every grocery store in their town to get all the food we mailed throughout the South Island.

More info to follow in a few months.

So We Finished the North Island! Hooray!!

We mailed eleven boxes to ourselves for the South Island and made extensive arrangement to make sure they would be where we wanted them when we wanted them there. Lastly, we waited for Philippe (Georges’ best friend) to join us in Wellington. Then…..the real mountains.

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