I have returned from summiting the formidable Mount Taranaki!
Quite a feat as I did not really train. I feel proud I made it, although I am hobbling about like a women 3 times my age who has severe arthritis and will be for a few more days no doubt…
For a friends 50th birthday she decided to return to her birthplace and climb the mountain. We did have a discussion 2000 metres up perched on the scree about her being born here, (right here ?? On the scree?)
In the end there were 14 of us walkers who set out on the Friday night to stay at a gorgeous (electricity, carpets, full kitchen) private lodge half way up the mountain. This was steep and took just over an hour.
On the road up Taranaki had a scarf of cloud about her shoulders.
Dusk made for a cool walk up to Tahurangi Lodge, where the summit was ever present before us…
I love this giant shadow of the classic volcano shaped peak lying across the plains below.
Tahurangi Lodge is at 15oo m above sea level, the summit is 2518m.
Saturday morning we rose at 6am to watch the sunrise and prepared to set off. Many people were already well on their way. A local told us there can be 300-400 people a day summiting on a sunny weekend.
Mount Ruapehu on the left looked tiny from where we were, as the sun rose across a bed of cloud that stayed there all day, while we climbed in hot sunshine.
The walk has very distinct terrain. There are 440 steps, then scree, then volcanic rocks to clamber up.
Our party setting out in the first rays of sunshine….
The scree – with a few patches of snow still hanging on. It wasn’t all fine, loose and easy to slide down, there were rocks to watch out for which made the descent a bit slower.
The best bit of equipment for the steep rock clambering was gloves, to protect your hands.
(And probably leg muscles used to such exertion would have been useful too…)
Birthday girl Alice and I in the snow filled crater.
Champagne was served by friends on the true summit, a steep 15 min climb to the right of this.
Looking down the crater .
It is pretty amazing to be able to climb a volcano, even an extinct one. It adds a certain dash of danger to think of the power that exsists beneath your feet that appeals to the risk-taker in me.
The gradient was steep,the views between clouds spectacular and the company fantastic!
Tramping is such a bonding sort of activity. You set off with a group of mostly strangers and after just 24 hours they feel like your best buddies in the world. Also you know you are in the company of like minded people who love to seize the day, try new things, take risks and explore. That is such a blessing which inspires me.
It was so great to chat (puff) to new people as I shared different parts of the track with them. And so neat to see another part of a Alice’s life, by meeting a range of her family and friends. Seeing her in a role different to that in which I usually see her.
We stayed at the historic Camphouse after our climb where we were joined by other friends and family.
Every time I am out and about like this I just feel so grateful for the freedom we have in New Zealand to get up and go to such beautiful places so easily. They are accessible, free and safe.
I am also grateful for my family. This weekend there were many other things happening for our family. Having older children and a supportive partner made it very easy for me to take off on my adventure while they all had their own adventures and things to do.
So thank you.