Come the following morning, it wasn't raining, which was a positive sign. Unfortunately, up in the mountains, the weather was more or less the same. There's a slight chance it might not rain as hard until noon but we can't expect too much. Despite the gloomy forecast, there was no backing out now. So we head out, hopeful for that very small window.
The trek started at Mangatepopo carpark to Soda Stream. It was an easy track, no surprises.
After about an hour or so, we started the climb through the Devil's Staircase. It quite a steep climb, and the wind and fog did not make it any easier. It was still manageable though as the track was relatively well formed.
At the top of the Devil's Staircase was the intersection to the Mt. Ngauruhoe summit. It was quite windy at this point and the visibility was about 5-10 meters. The boys decided it wasn't worth it to do the summit and we continued on the normal track.
|To climb or not to climb Mt Doom|
|South Crater, the Red Crater looming on the horizon|
|Top of Red Crater|
When we reached the top of the Red Crater, i thought the worst was over. Little did i know the descent was going to be much harder. It was on loose steep gravel. I was afraid of slipping and completely sliding off the cliffs. It was still windy and very foggy. The boys on the other hand didn't seem to find it difficult at all and just kept laughing at how scared we girls were.
|Descending Red Crater|
We finally reached the bottom, and would've missed the lakes entirely. In fact we only saw one lake. The visibility was very poor and it was still windy so we didn't really stay long to look at the Emerald Lakes. Besides, there was nothing to see. It was a bit disappointing.
|Barely visible Emerald Lakes|
The treck to Ketatahi Hut went by quickly. It was mostly downhill and the weather was starting to clear. We were jogging at one point because it was easier. The next two hours were mostly downhill, passing through alpine vegetation, and then rain forest.
An hour and a half after the Ketatahi Hut, we finally reached the car park.
We made it! I, the newbie, made it! 19.41 kilometers with 891-meter climb in 6 hours against wind, fog and rain. Not bad at all.
Maybe i will come back again next time. But i'll definitely wait for a better weather then.
More photos on my Flickr.