A storm kept us off the mountain for a few days.
Taupo, the nearest town, seemed like a lake-side prison as we waited for it to clear.
We knew it stood there looming, but we couldn’t get to it.
The access to the mountain was shut off due to violent storms
…then wednesday came.
We woke at 4 am to get an early start on the trail.
It was still dark as we approached the mountains.
We marched towards it in the early twilight amongst a stampede of over-ambitious young europeans.
Farther up into the moon-like landscape we went, over harsh volcanic rocks, and boardwalks that guided us over neon glowing algae, ooze, that crawled through the water.
Snow topped Mt Doom (Mt Ngauruhoe) came in and out of view throughout the day.
Unlike the rest of NZ the landscape had no green, hardly anything alive.
The summit was shrouded in frozen fog.
The emerald lakes cleared for only a few moments as the piercing wind gave us a short glimpse of their green glow.
While summiting was steep, the walk back seemed to last forever.
We went in and out of active volcanic zones, the perpetual descent slowly pounded on our bodies.
The downward tramp from the barren lunar landscape lead to the lush familiarity of the NZ jungle.
Eventually, we passed through the canopy, through the lahar zone, and out into the barrenness that marks the Tongariro National Park as the great desert.