Sunday, June 06, 2010

The ice.

I came back yesterday from possibly the best road trip I've ever had here in NZ. I think if there ever was ONE reason so love NZ, it would be the mountains.On Saturday, I followed Zhi and his friends to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It was a trip that was planned about 4 months in advance, and basically the one thing I had to look forward to in this semester to keep me going other than flying home. Zhi and his friends even had about 6 training tramps (which means hiking or trekking) to prepare themselves for this. I would've joined in if it weren't for my Saturday shifts. I didn't have any ice gear, and I wasn't too fond of the idea of my toes feeling frozen at any point during the hike, so I went and bought myself a pair of hiking boots for $20. They were waterproof and built for the extreme terrain. Sweet.

So the plan was to depart Auckland on Saturday, do the crossing on Sunday, then return to Auckland today. But on Thursday, we got a call from the mountain guide saying that weather was going to be absolutely crappy on Sunday, how about doing it on Saturday instead? So began the hurry-hurry-rush-rush to depart on Friday evening. We made it to National Park just before 1 am.

At 6 am, still dark, we woke up and got ourselves ready for the big hike. Because there was so many of us, and the logistics for the trip was quite a handful, by the time we were all set to go it was about 9 am.

The hike began great. I was in absolutely awe of the landscapes of Tongariro and Mount Doom (which is its fictional LOTR name. I know it's actual name, though I can't, for the life of my, pronounce it. Mount Ngauruhoe?). The scenery was really breathtaking and I am still in disbelief that I saw it with my very own eyes.

We didn't do the entire 18.5 km track. We hiked from Mangatepopo to the Red Crater, then to the summit of Mt Tongariro, and then straight back down to the car park. I think we covered about 13-15 km in total, I'm not sure. Anyway, I was having a lot of fun at the start. My boots were kinda digging into the sides of my shins but I didn't think much of it at first.

However, about 3 hours into the hike, my boots were really starting to annoy me. The high rigid cuffs completely limited my movements. I couldn't planterflex, dorsiflex, pronate or supinate in any way. In other words it felt like I was wearing ski boots. I couldn't move my ankles. And I think because I have bowlegs, that made it worse. See my cross sectional schematic representation below. So every time my foot strikes a hard rock or an uneven terrain I had to bite my lips in pain as the top of the boots pressed painfully against my legs. I had this vision of my tibia experiencing shear force and I started to worry if they would fracture anytime.I guess what annoyed me most wasn't really the limited movement itself. If you know me well, you'd know that the fact that brought tears to my eyes with every painful step I took was having to walk slowly, letting everyone overtake me and being at the very back of the pack with the sweeper. It was killing my ego more than anything. It wasn't particularly challenging, to be honest. It was steep at the top, but I would say anyone who does any amount of physical activity would be able to make it to the top easily. And that was why I hated my boots with such a passion that day, because I hated being patronised as weak or unfit, even though people were just being nice to me. I got pissed when people asked me if I was ok, or when people offered deep heat cream, or to carry my bag for me. I wasn't tired! I wasn't even bloody panting. I am just in pain! I kept imagining if I had on more comfortable shoes I'd be leading the pact, jumping up and down, taking a million photos. Boo!

But, despite that tiny setback, I thoroughly enjoyed the climb. It was really amazing. I wanted to stay there a bit longer just to soak in the views. It was like tearing a page off a travel magazine or a postcard. I didn't regret going one bit. Now that that's over, I have to come back down to earth. My first paper is on Saturday and I am dreading studying for it. I hate this part of a student's life. I really do. I need to knuckle down and get through this. In 18 days I will be home. =)


Anonymous said...

wah..I love mountain climbing lah...

cinya nice..tks for sharing..!

Hope go one day NZ for climbing...haha


galnexdor said...

yes come to nz for auckland marathon ma!

Jackie Voon said...

nice view!is that really where LOTR was??then you must be frodo baggins..hahaha