Backpacking an Active Volcano

So from Saturday to Monday I did an amazing backpacking trip with a fellow US teacher known as the Tongariro Northern Circuit. It was absolutely stunning although I was not convinced I had actually left New Mexico given how similar the terrain was for much of the trip:

Both of those mountains you see are actually volcanoes and it was really cool to see a perfect cone shape on one of them. Unfortunately, but understandably, we were not actually able to hike to the top of either of those volcanoes because they are sacred to the Maori. Anyway, climbing wasn’t really part of day one, but we were treated to mountain streams, some shade, and a sweet waterfall:

Day two was the crazy day, where I started to catch a foul smell and was concerned it was me. Thankfully, that smell was actually from sulphur being emitted from volcanic vents:

DSCN0682It is important to know that the trip to these vents was not free, but required physical sacrifice:

IMG_1846With that said, the vent picture may be underwhelming because you can’t smell the sulphur or hear the sizzle, but another reward was a collection of the volcanic alpine lakes near the top of the climb:

As the wind ripped around us and the loose rock crumbled beneath our feet, we finally made it to the real top of the climb, intersecting with the world famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Here we saw the vibrant colors of an area that had recently experienced a minor eruption:

And just to give a sense of scale, here is my hiking partner looking at a stunning view:

IMG_1921The hike down continued to be stunning, but the footing was quite uncertain so I don’t really have anything in the way of pictures and day three was only a quick rolling terrain hike out. Any other pics I have are quite underwhelming, but hopefully I have given you a sense of how amazing some of the New Zealand terrain is.

Thanks for reading and sorry it has been so long since my last post.

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