Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Hesitant Mountain...

A  few days ago I left New Plymouth for the object of my desires. On the outskirts of town, I saw what I came here for-Mount Egmont/Taranaki. 

Captain Cook bestowed the somewhat dormant volcano with the Anglo name in 1770. 
The British explorer dubbed the peak after a former Lord of the Admiralty. (What a 
suck up!) The Maori name goes back a lot further then 1770. Personally, I prefer the indigenous handle more.

For a change, the sky was bearing more blue than gray. The incessant winds were taking a breather too. The stratovolcano loomed as symmetrical as a child's crayon rendition of a mountain. I liked it! 

I stopped at the Visitor Center for a map and hiking suggestions. I received both. 

I pitched some gear into my pack with no thought of making a summit bid. I headed uphill. 

The trail was fast and user friendly. In a short time, I was at the base of the summit trail. "Well, I'll just go up the mountain a bit. I'll get better pix." The trail started with stairs but quickly degenerated into a pumice scree field. The one slippery step forward, possibly two slippery steps back variety. It was pretty discouraging. Then a descending hiker wiped out right in front of me. She picked herself up, brushed off 

the grit and said, "this is the worse part of the climb. It gets easier once you get on solid rock." Good to know.

I glanced at the sky, felt for any insidious breeze and gave myself approval to continue on. I passed fellow hikers clad only in cotton and tennis shoes. I guess I was more prepared than that. Barely. I hiked in in a stuttering manner. More like a "Should I stay or should I go" mode than with any great determination. I plodded on.

Finally, I curled around a notch only to find a field of White Death below. (Remember, even the locals are bummed about the lack of summer here). I dropped into the bowl and skidded to a stop. Hmmm. The summit was about 100" above me, but through a very angled icy slope. Joy! Joy! I made a half hearted attempt. No Bueno. Five minutes later, I girded myself for one last try. It's not easy punching steps in snow while wearing trail runners! Second time was a charm. I was on top a few minutes later.

Me and many other ill-prepared hikers were fortunate the Maori Gods granted us Pakeha (White Folks) safe passage from the elements on this 8,261" Beauty. 

Was it worth it? Heck yeah! 

However, always remember these words from Mountain Man, Ed Viesturs. "Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory." 

Enjoy the pix!

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