The next few posts may be a but jumbled as far as their chronology. I did name my rental car the TARDIS, so let’s use that as an excuse, okay?
I got to Tongariro National Park late, set up my tent in the dark, made some pretty awful rice, and went to bed. The next morning I decided to go to the visitor center to see about hiking the Tongariro Crossing. It’s a trail that runs over the shoulder of Mt Doom, so it felt like a necessity.
As I drove to the visitor center, though, I was enthralled with how gorgeous the area was. There were two main mountains–the black cinder cone used in Lord of the Rings, and also a mountain with a long, jagged peak that reminded me a lot of Mt. St. Helens. They were glorious.
As I came up the road, I caught sight of a huge brick hotel with a blue rooftop. I love beautiful old buildings, and the Chateau Tongariro instantly caught my imagination. Perhaps it was the blue roof, or the fact that they use the word chateau in the movie, but it reminded me so much of Cinderella. I decided to have hot chocolate there if they didn’t mind a somewhat smelly camper.
Looking around, it became obvious that I wasn’t going to be okay with just one day in that park. I thought of the other things I had tentatively planned for the next few days, and decided none of them sounded at all as fun as getting one more backpacking trip in. I managed to get the last set of permits for campsites, and spent the day getting supplies and doing short hikes in the park.
I also saw a sign advertising high tea at the Cinderella Chateau. I found myself asking, if the hobbits had been able to have high tea this close to Oroduin, wouldn’t the last half of the Two Towers have been a mite easier to read? That settled it. The next morning, I wiped the mud from my face (most of it), put on the only dress I brought, and had high tea at a table facing Mt. Doom. There were 2 scones, five tiny sandwiches, a bunch of desserts, and enough sugar to propel me through the first stage of my hike. Also, they let me substitute hot chocolate for tea, so I didn’t even miss out on that. It’s officially my favorite way to start a backpacking trip.