Posted by: das Mopf | April 19, 2009

Sympathy for Frodo

I didn’t really have much sympathy for Frodo from Lord of the Rings. He always appeared tp be a crybaby, one who suffers with passion, always saying „Sam, I can’t do that, Sam, it’s so hard, Sam, I’m afraid, Sam…“ It’s an actual surprise Sam stil went with him, instead of leaving him somewhere (Shelob would have been perfect to dispose of Frodo, especially since since Sam already was on his way back home) and then lead a perfectly peaceful live.

However, after doing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, I do think differently of Frodo. The mountain is shit to climb and steep and full of gravel and debris. Frodo didn’t have that awful lot of stuff to carry (sunscreen proved to be unnecessary, though). He didn’t slip and almost fall off the slippery ground right back down to be Red Crater, and he could probably look farther than maybe fifty meters because of the clouds. He could move his fingers, because they weren’t stiff with cold, he hadn’t had moisture dripping from his face and hair. And Frodo also didn’t have that nice landscape, though our weather was pretty cloudy, cold and windy. He didn’t have eggs, apples, bananas and bread with him, he didn’t have a Ketetahi Hut to regain his strength and a wonderful busdriver to bring him back home. (He did have eagles, though.) Oh, and he didn’t have a nice friend to share her cookies with him (because Gollum threw them all away, of which we had vivid evidence right on the track.)

All in all, I really enjoyed the Tongariro Track, also because of the company. I just met Nicole when waiting for the shuttlebus, and since we both would have walked alone otherwise, we took the 7-hours hike together. The first hour or so was quite alright, as it was only going slightly uphill, but after that we got to the „Devil’s Staircase“, a pretty long section that winds uphill and consists of steps and debris. It almost took us an hour to get up to the Red Crater which actually is flat like a pancake. And here the bad weather started, with clouds gathering and the wind getting stronger and harsher. Still, after climbing the staircase, it was good to go straight for a while. It was only a short while, though, as soon we reached the Red Crater Ridge. It’s the second steep part of the Crossing, which at that time was already pretty slippery: The clouds had moistened the ground and I slipped in the clay quite at least twice. Luckily, there were enough helpful hands reaching out. It took us another hour and several breaks to get to the Emerald Lakes, but due to the weather conditions we had to keep the breaks short. I can’t really recall how long it took us, but we we’re pretty exhausted when we finally reached to Ridge’s top from where we could see the Lakes. Or rather, see some spots and guess from the distinctly blueish colour that those must’ve been the Emerald Lakes. The next part, finally going downhill, was slippery with gravel and debris and pretty hard to descend, also because the wind had us blowing from one side to the other, the clouds and slight rain caught in our eyes, hair and clothes, and some small bits got into my eyes and under the contacts. We got down, though, arm in arm like old ladies, sharing a pair of gloves to keep our hands from freezing. My fingers actually were so stiff with cold that I couldn’t move them, which was a very uncomfortable feeling. As we got down to the very Lakes, the wind had somewhat ceased and we could at least appreciate the colour – we weren’t able to see the far end, though. The busdriver told us that „if you can’t see the lakes anymore, you’ve done all the hard work for the day“, but that probably only counts on sunny days. Still, after one more uphill-part, we had finally made it, we finally had reached the last top of the day and made our way to the Ketetahi Hut. We lingered there for lunch and bathroom, but not for very long, because our clothes were wet and our fingers cold, so we had to keep ourselves warm by walking. We got out of the clouds eventually, and even though the sun still was covered in them, it got warmer bit by bit. After an hour along tussock and bushes, we got into a forest quite like Abel Taz and, after another hour, we suddenly got off the forest and right onto the carpark. We made it! 19.4km lay behind us, and though the weather hadn’t been as great as I had hoped, it was just great. And luckily we didn’t postpone it to tomorrow, because on the bus back we were told that all shuttles were cancelled for the next days – the weather had changed so much. I so feel like an old woman by now, but it’s just worth it; Tongariro is so beautiful in its own way, and I just enjoyed the scenery and even the climbing. On the steep part downhill, just before the Emerald Lakes, I had to start giggling because I had so much fun slipping and tumbling down the way with my feet sinking into the debris up to the ankles!

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