Tuesday: It’s 05:16 and I’m the only person waiting outside of my hostel, that is apart from the guy sprawled on the bench in front of reception. A late arrival perhaps?

Oh and a guy just walked past me – I’m having weird de ja vu right about now!

Anyway, it’s just me from this hostel, all of my other friends are staying at Base or Tiki, I booked this room when I passed through on the way up the North Island.

As I’m the only one staying here, I have this fear that I’m not going to get picked up. That they won’t have seen my scrawl of ‘urban retreat’ at the bottom of the page. I’m worried I’ve gotten up at 4.30am and paid $65 for nothing. 

The worst thing is, all of this worry is making me nervous and anxious. I don’t want to waste what I’m essentially considering my last day on the road. I feel like a 7-9 hour hike is most definitely ‘going out with a bang’.

So I’m waiting to be picked up.

I’m on the bus! Panic over!

Although I’ve just read the safety instructions and approximate timings and honestly, I don’t know if I have the time and maybe the ability to actually hike mount doom.

I spoke to two girls in my room yesterday, one did the entire track (inc mount doom) in 8 hours, one did the entire track (without either mountains) in 8 hours. I want to push myself but also set achievable goals. I think an 8 hour walk across steep and uneven terrain is going to be a challenge in itself, so I’m going to decide once I’m on the track, depending on how it’s all going.

For those of you who read my earlier Zealandia post, you’ll recall how freaked out I was when I got to the end of my track with no one around and no onwards signage. I don’t want history to repeat itself. In all honesty though, what am I most scared of? … That’s an easy one. Rock slides. A very real possibility on Mount Doom and something that I’m not sure I want to risk.

My original plan was to hike up Mount Doom (the actual Lord of the rings one), but our driver warned us that there is no track up to the top, and if it’s cloudy and you can’t see the top, you should avoid it because it’s essentially a conical shape, and you need to go up and down in the same direction to get back on to the ongoing track. I was also warned by people who previously climbed the track about rocks and boulders flying down (as there’s no track).

The bus driver said this is particularly dangerous if it’s cloudy because you can’t actually see what’s in front of you or coming towards you. So we opted against it. We also didn’t end up climbing mount Tongariro because we missed the turn off for it (we don’t know when or how, but it happened), and to be honest, we didn’t expect to see anything amazing because the cloud was hanging pretty low all day.

   
    
   
   
 
  

  
  
I’d describe the landscape, in one word, as: bleak. I actually felt like Pip from the classic Charles Dickens Great Expectations (this is the first time I’ve thought about GCSE English since finishing it years ago).

But, I’m really glad I completed the 19.4k trek! 

We finished at 13.36pm (after starting at 7am).

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