Whakapapa Village(690.4)-National Park + road walk Tongariro Holiday Park-Ketatahi Trailhead (707.4)
Campsite Elevation: 2500ft/762m
From reading my friend Buck-30’s TA journal, we knew it would eventually change to the less maintained trail we’ve come to expect on the TA. It was the classic fork of the trail where we reached an intersection and saw a beautiful boardwalk straight ahead…and the TA turning right into a field of tussock (tall grassy clumps) and a path that was more a narrow drainage full of water than a trail. Classic.
We didn’t mind much at all because it was a great day out! It was clear and cold out with some wind, but finally no rain! Word was that up on the Crossing, winds were gale force. At the iSite, all tour groups were cancelled. The online forecast had gusts at 60km/37mi/hr and near freezing temps with the wind chill, but some sources at the iSite were saying it could be as high as 100km/62mi/hr winds. Yes, doable by TA hiker standards (some chose to still go today) but not as enjoyable as tomorrow will be. Back to today, with all the rain we’ve had, the trail was mostly waterlogged and muddy to National Park, but quite scenic.
All day, we had views looking at Mt Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom) and Mt Ruapehu. It was pretty exciting to look at Mt Ngauruhoe and know we’ll be summiting it (side trip) tomorrow. It will be Becky’s first mountain and is totally fitting given her love of Lord of the Rings.We had a relaxed day with lunch by a stream and then a 4mi/6km highway walk to the Four Square (convenient mart) at National Park. Great views again of all the mountains as we walked the road. Mt Doom was behind us as we walked the highway.
When we got to the Four Square around 3pm, we each grabbed a bit more food for tomorrow and filled up our water capacity since there isn’t any water where we’ll camp tonight and for most of the Crossing tomorrow. We headed out to the corner to hitch and immediately got two cars to pull over. The first one could only take four, so I volunteered to stay back because I had service there and could get things done while I hitched. Well, the next car that drove up, took me and we all drove off at the same time. We got dropped off at the Holiday Park that we stayed at yesterday, and still had a 5mi/7.5km walk to our camp spot at the trailhead. As soon as the cars drove away, I realized my umbrella was missing! Shit! Again!!!
We went through photos from today, and by process of elimination, it had to be at one of three places along the road that I set my pack down. It was 4pm, so I had plenty of time to hitch back the 20mins or so to the Four Square and then return to meet the group at camp later. Ugh! I immediately got the hitch and they were nice enough to stop so I could check the two places I’d set my pack down before the Four Square…no umbrella. Then I went on to check the Four Square and where we hitched across the street…no umbrella! Shit!
I have no idea where it might be other than someone passing by and finding it maybe before I got back to it. What’s crazy is that I didn’t take it out of my pack today. It would have had to fall out somehow. I’m totally stumped on this one! There’s no way it fell out in the car I hitched in, but the woman has my card to contact me if it did. So, unless the crew that hikes through tomorrow finds it, that will be the third umbrella I’ve lost in the last five months, ugh!!! I immediately got a hitch back to the Holiday Park and got to walk off the frustration on my own on the walk for an hour and a half.I have to say that I feel like I had this one coming. Today was just too perfect and I knew I was doing something that felt unlucky by shuffling the sections today. Never, in all my thru-hiking, have I jumped ahead and done a section without walking there on my own efforts. It’s stupid, but it did feel like I was jinxing myself by breaking the continuity of the hike. Yes, I’m still hiking all of it, but the sequence and continuity was broken. Although I loved today, and it was a perfect day to hike, and it sets us up for a great day on the Crossing, it was a bit of a jinx. At least it wasn’t a broken leg. I might buy a temporary one in National Park after we do the Crossing tomorrow, but I am for sure ordering a new one to be delivered to Wellington or sooner if possible, ugh!
So other than the classic umbrella loss (once again!), today was great and it felt amazing to walk a full day after all these half days we’ve been putting in. When I got to the trailhead at 6:30pm, the group was there along with six other TA hikers. I had to get a shot of Becky and Frits together. Both are 20yrs old, and affectionately referred to as the trail babies. Frits is four months younger and is a giant. He is exactly 2m/6’7″ tall. He is from Holland and said that Holland is the world’s tallest country. He said he is just average where he lives because he lives in the tallest state in Holland and the tallest province in his state.There are also four cars parked and people sleeping in their cars. It’s going to be quite awesome tomorrow, and Ned had the great proposal of us going up before sunrise to see the sun come up as we hike up. Our group of five decided it would be worth doing. We are getting up at 3:45am so we can start hiking up at 4:30am and see sunrise as we head up. I’m so happy to be with a group that wants to do something like that. Becky made me promise we could spend the whole day out there if we wanted and not rush it. I’m totally up for that. We will have all the time we want to soak it in. We all headed to bed by 8:30pm so we could try to get at least 6hrs of sleep in. How am I supposed to sleep with all this anticipation and excitement!?
Oh man, it’s 9:30pm and I’m the only one awake and Will and Felix just arrived! We heard they might make it. It turns out that they decided to do the bonus hike of the rest of the Tongariro Northern Circuit today. The Northern Circuit circumnavigates Mt Ngauruhoe, and the Tongariro Crossing is part of the Northern Circuit. Today, Will and Felix did the part of the Northern Circuit that isn’t part of the TA, and they will do the Crossing part tomorrow. They loved it and said it’s totally worth doing. Dang, I could have done that today and was just not motivated. I had the impression it wasn’t anything more than I’d see on the Crossing. It’s still possible that I could squeeze it in the day after tomorrow, but they haven’t seen the Crossing section yet to compare it. Maybe I’ll find out more on that tomorrow. Now another TA hiker has arrived and is pitching his tent, so we have 14 TA hikers camped here.
Socks and flip-flop, typically Dutch !
Loving the post Erin, sorry about the umbrella.
Love that end photo. All those tents!
You have stemmed the losses a bit but wow, seems it is mostly umbrellas. You need to loose the cheap items, not the umbrella-priced ones! Hopefully you’ll have a Merry Christmas surprise in the mail.
Erin, I had a thought as I read your post. You may want to put your name and contact information on a future umbrella, stuff sack, etc. so that when found they may be able to make their way back to you. Or find a small bungee or Velcro tabs to keep it in place. Sucks to lose it again. Small price for a fabulous journey. Safe travels.
How about a traking divice for your most prized possesions that you can locate with your phone?
I personally can’t wait till tommorrows post.
It does seem I’d benefit from something like that.
I totally need to do that!
In response to Bruce’s comment, I had just finished reading about this little tracker http://dailylifetech.com/trackr/t/entry/tiny-device-allows-you-to-track-your-car-using-your-smartphone-1211?engsec=60
Another umbrella, ☔ BUMMER!!
I agree, labelling and a tracking device might help.
(even a new blog section: Where’s Wired’s Umbrella? where we could help track those wandering items)
I hope you are reunited soon, or with a replacement.
I don’t think this was something you jinxed, since you have had umbrellas jump ship before without any hitching.
Good one with Where’s Wired’s Umbrella:)
Erin, your equipment losses are an important feature of the blog … I love reading about them – and about how often you get things back! – if only because I am not much better myself!
Hi, I am a kiwi, and planning to part of Te Araroa and part of the Camino de Santiago next year. Will follow your blog with interest. Thanks, KSW
Cool, they seem to have a lot in common with the crowds especially.
[This responds to your posting on Day 51. Not sure whether you even get to see it if I submit it now via the form on the Day 51 page, so I’m doing it here]
Hi Erin. Great blog, first thing I turn to each day! I’m an (Australian) hiker, not a paddler, so I asked my kayaking daughter what she made of your assessment of canoeing. For her, the appeal of kayaking comes from going out in warm and sunny conditions when getting splashed a little makes it even better! She’s not surprised you didn’t take to two-man canoes. She says that single kayaks are the way to go, because you have your independence and don’t need to constantly work with someone else. As for your hands always being occupied, she doesn’t find it a problem – if you stop paddling to have a drink of water, your boat will often keep in the right direction and even if it does get turned off-course then it’s pretty easy to correct for. And for taking photos she uses a waterproof camera – it just sits openly in a lifejacket pocket and is immediately accessible, there’s no need to get it out of a case. She says one benefit of paddling is that because you’re just gliding over water, and there’s nothing for your feet to trip on, you can actually spend more time looking up and enjoying the scenery rather than staring down at your feet! This is why she was so lucky to see heaps of koalas on her most recent recent trip down the Glenelg River in Victoria, which she’d never have spotted if she’d been on foot.
Yes, I’ll see it wherever it gets posted. Nice to read her view of it:) A waterproof camera would be awesome for the canoe stuff!