Rainy Day Riding

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08/01/08
Hi folks! Well, this should probably count as the shortest post thus far, as it was a very uneventful day for me. I woke up, it was raining, I got on my bike, it was raining. I pedalled for 3 hours, it was raining. Got to the hostel, it was raining. Yup. Rain city over here for the day. As a result, my little map has a grand total of 3 pictures, one of which you see here, and 2 of which were taken at pretty much the same time. There just wasn’t anything to photograph for you! Sorry! In spite of that, I’m now in Taurangi, and feverishly planning out my next several days, in which I will truly be out of contact completely with the outer world. Yup, I’m planning to (along with Ralph) take a stab at the Tongariro Northern Circuit, as well as summitting both Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Nguarahoe. You might know this area more as Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings. Read on for a little bit more.

The ride between Taupo and Taurangi was a short 50km ride, which was mostly flat except for one big climb about 1/3 into the day. For the most part, the road just followed Lake Taupo, which I’m still on. You see, Lake Taupo is the largest body of water in New Zealand, and is actually a volcanoe cone. Then again, what else is new, right? All of New Zealand is volcanoes, right? 🙂 I hit the road by 9:30 this morning, after a pretty crappy night of sleep. A group of backpackers decided to spend the night on the deck directly outside my window drinking and laughing till all hours, so I couldn’t sleep. Luckily, I don’t really need sleep right? For my part last night, I just had a couple beer and watched Anchorman with a few other people, and tried to turn in before 11.

Once here in Taurangi, I focussed my attention on planning out my Tongariro bid. There are a lot of different options for long hikes here, and most people here choose to do only the Tongariro Crossing, the most famous 1 day hike. As a result, I decided I’d far prefer spending a couple nights up there, using alpine huts and fast-packing up the summits to avoid any of the big crowds. It’ll be some long days hiking, as most people do the circuit in 4 days and not 3. However, Ralph and I are both in good shape, and we won’t be carrying too much stuff with us. I’m sure I’ll take a bazillion pictures.

The weather is the biggest wild card in this part of the trip. You see, this is an alpine environment, and the weather can literally change from one minute to the next, including frost and snow options. As a result, I have to at least bring all my warmest gear and wet weather gear, as well as a complete first aid kit, and emergency shelter options. Should be interesting to get all that to fit in my 30L Salomon pack, but I’m pretty confident I’ll be just fine. The main thing to remember is not to get too cocky in this kind of multi-day treks. People can, and do, die every year up there. I decided going at it with Ralph was my best option, for safety, and the company as well. Let’s just hope he doesn’t hike like he bikes, otherwise, I’ll be huffing and puffing all the way. However, I think I might be the stronger hiker, so that might be nice. I’ll let you know in a few days.

Anyway, that’s all there really is to say for now. I’m off to meet Ralph for supper and to plan some logistics, then I’m going to try and upload some pictures so that I have empty memory cards for the hike. Hope all is well, and let me tell you, I’m pretty stoked about this trip. I just hope my leg problem subsides. Oh yeah, didn’t mention that did I? My leg is in major pain mode right now, with me having actually been unable to pedal with my left leg for quite a ways today. Every time I tried pushing down on it, major pain went through my leg. I’ve picked up some gel to try and soothe it, and we’ll see how tomorrow goes. The biggest challenge is that tomorrow, we have to climb from 368m to over 1100m by bike in 50km! Yikes. Here’s hoping for a good day. Ta ta.

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