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It was worth it. There were many spectacular views on the Tongariro Crossing. The Blue Lake on Mt. Tongariro, Ngaruhoe, which is perfectly conical, and snowclad Ruapehu in the distance, the first glimpse of Red Crater, which epitomizes this primeval landscape. It really does seem to belong to some bygone age. With the exception of the lakes themselves, all the colors are muted. But what an array of colors nonetheless! So many shades of brown, exquisite in their minute variations, impossible to capture on film. There were other colors that stood out due to the austerity of the surroundings, muted purples and pinks, yellow sulfur around the lakes, whites and dull greens. A stark, stern environment, but beautiful.
Bethany made up a story while we ate lunch on the peak of Tongariro (the smallest of the three mountains), about how the tribes from Blue Lake and Red Crater were rivals and had a huge war over territory. Given the flat, stony expanse between the two places, the story of an ancient battlefield was all to easy to believe.
When we finished the hike, we cooked dinner over our little cookstove in the parking lot. Yes, in the parking lot. It's got nice flat surfaces. Then we packed up all our things, grappled our terrifyingly heavy packs onto our backs, and set out for the Mangatepopo Hut. We didn,t quite make it tat far and instead camped off the track. From where we stood, the track was invisible, and so we though we were safe. Not so much. Anyone taller than 1 foot, which is pretty much everyone over a year old, could see us as they walked by. We were too tired to care and decided to just get up early in the morning.
Higlights from the day - up, up, up. Up stairs, up scree, up mountains. Ow my hip. Oh, that's incredibly beautiful. Ow, I'm sore, but my knee's doin ok so that's a plus. Time for food. I love food! This is the best apple I've had in my entire life!! More walking. More beautiful. Campsite! Sleeping, phew.