So this weekend was James’ birthday, to celebrate him becoming an even older old fart we decided to climb a mountain, as you do.
On the Friday after a hill sprint session we set off to Tongariro, 2 1/2 hours down the road. Passing through sunny Taupo along the way with lots of Ironman parafinalia out for the Ironman there the following day we eventually got there (although I thought we wouldn’t after the horrid wiggly drive out of Taupo – Tongariro)
We’d hoped to book the shuttle for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing the following day, James’ actual birthday. However the weather had other ideas and it was forecast to be a bad day, but we were told to come back at 6.15 the following morning when a decision would be made if it was safe to walk. So we packed our bags ready with first aid kits, layers, torches, water and a whoooole lotta sweets and Cliff bars.
5am the alarm went off and we got up, had breakfast and made a packed lunch, and got ready – then realised the weather was too awful to walk so went back to bed for a few hours. Bed not being so delightful as it was SOOOOO COOOOLD, we even put a sheet of insulation under the bed and between the duvet and blanket to try and keep us a bit warmer (still wearing nearly all the clothes I brought) it actually worked
As it was James’ birthday I’d gone all out on his present – what every grown man wants – a pair of pink cake glasses.
I also got him a mention on the birthday song on the Greg James podcast (BBC Radio 1 DJ who does a funny podcast each week that we listen to) 12 minutes in if you want to download it and have a listen.
It was still awful weather so we head back to Taupo to watch the Ironman, as soon as we left tongariro the weather seemed to clear, annoying, but good that we could at least spend the day in sunshine
The Ironman was rather fun, we purchase a fluro pink cowbell and cheered on the athletes for a few hours. Incredible feat, whilst people were finishing others were still on the 112 mile cycle and hadn’t even started on the 26.2 mile run. Even too crazy for me to dream of doing!
The last lady finished at midnight, 10 seconds before the cut off time of 17 hours.
The evening of James’ birthday was an exciting one, a fancy dinner of pasta and veg and spent the evening talking to an Australian lady who loved walking and had just been on a multi day hike and we played the ‘name 3 countries for each letter of the alphabet’ game. The crazy life of these two rockstars.
Woke up and it was cold, dark and foggy, but we got ready, several cups of tea later the bus picked us up and we head off up the mountains through the clouds and after a few warnings of ‘this is a very difficult walk, you must have a minimum of 2 litres of water, you must be well prepared OR YOU WILL DIEEEEE’ we were allowed to leave the bus, walking poles in toe because we were now ‘trampers’ (hikers á la kiwi)
Having twisted my knee the day before and bust it riding a couple of weeks ago I wasn’t looking forward to the climbs, buttttt it wasn’t that bad and I had certainly done worse walks. I hadn’t however done too many more scenic walks, it was laaaavely walking through 3 volcanoes, I think 2 craters and past the emerald lakes. I would tell you more about it, but the info guide we had was in James’ pocket, got sweaty and disintergrated. Fail.
The walk is supposed to take between 6-8 hours, we did it in over 5, however the walk from the top of the mountain down killed my knees and was not impressed with the 9km wiggling down 1000m of elevation to the pick up point.
When we got back, James decided it was time to tidy up his beard a little bit. Sensible. Tidying up his beard without a mirror – not so sensible.
The following day we head back ‘home’ to Rotorua, via Taupo to pick up some more craft supplies for the ‘grand project’ which I’m not allowed to talk about until it’s finished. The stationary shop had a bargain bin, and there waiting for me was THE coolest dollar find – ladies and gents meet Trev / Trevorrrrrrrrrrr the dinosaur shaped white board.