Climbing Mount Doom

On the other end of the trip, right before we left and all the way on the other side of the country, we hiked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing — better known as Mount Doom.  It is 21 km long, ascends 800 meters, and descends 1200 meters.  The ascent is all in 2 absolutely brutal climbs, complete with 40+ km winds and weather systems drifting in and out every few minutes.  The first climb takes you halfway up the volcano used to film Mount Doom, after which you walk across a flat saddle and up to the top of it’s twin.  The next 4 hours are spent walking downhill to the road.  While the climb was tough, 4 hours of constant downhill is really what makes you sore the next day.  Certainly the hardest day hike I’ve ever done, but a very nice one.  It’s one of the most popular walks in New Zealand, and for good reason.

Of course we through the one ring in while we were there.
Tongarira

I snapped this particular shot while stopping to catch our breath on the way up the first, and worst, ascent.  The group pictured was walking across a small, flat traverse before climbing through the clouds.