It was a 5:45am start today. Catching the shuttle bus to the beginning of this 19km hike, with no way out until the end where the bus picks us back up.
When the alarm goes off at 4:45, we wonder what we’re doing – still jet-lagged/travel-foggy and still not quite recovered from driving on the wrong side of the road all the day before, and we haven’t done any hiking since last summer.
However it was well worth it. We hike up through all sorts of volcanic territory, including one active volcano (which last erupted only 2 years ago!) and see all sorts of fumeroles, some emerald lakes, stark landscapes and pass across the base of Mt Doom (for you Lord of the Rings fans.) The views are spectacular, often more than a 180 view. You look out as far as the eye can see, over volcanic ranges, volcanic wastelands, lush forests, farmland, tropical vegetation and Lake Taupo.
Best of all, the weather gods smiled greatly upon us. We started the hike before daybreak under a cloudy sky. But the day dawned bright and sunny and we had terrific views for most of the hike. When we were about halfway down, the clouds started rolling in and we had foggy landscapes in front of and under us and it was really quite mystical for a couple of hours.
We were easily the oldest people on the hike – don’t think we saw anyone else over 40. It was a bit of a downer being constantly passed by all these nimble and well-tanned youngsters! In the past, it’s always been us doing the passing!
But we completed the hike in about 7 hours, and were none the worse for the wear after. So for that, we must be grateful.