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A reflection on the Tongariro Crossing from Grace Dublin '17: 

The trifecta of Mountains: Tongariro, Ruapehu,and Ngauruhoe
Today we left our rest and recuperation from Lake Taupo behind as we made our way to the Tongariro Crossing in order to begin our challenging trek. Clouds surrounded us on all sides. The once visible mountains disappeared behind a thick layer of fog and steam that shadowed  the active volcano we were climbing. The first few kilometers were easy, the path was clear and the fog hadn’t quite set in yet, so we all had our heads held high talking and making jokes with each other, while also admiring the terrain. The landscape was unlike anything we had ever seen, almost like we were on another planet. Reddish brown dust collected inside of our shoes. Barren mountains with molten rocks replaced the luscious green New England mountains that we were all accustomed to.
As we ascended higher, the terrain changed once again. We stopped for a break and stood on the edge of the magnificent Red Crater. The name was definitely well suited as it was a massive bright red and brown hole in the ground with sharp distinct edges completely untouched by humans. Trekking farther ahead, we peered around the corner only to spot the emerald pools. I had seen emerald pools in Zion National Park, but those almost seemed sad compared to these three turquoise lakes surrounded on all sides by mountains.The lakes were also infused with a pungent smell which reminded us that we were in fact ascending an active volcano that had erupted just four years before.
The journey that we set out on today was unlike any other hike I have ever done, not only was the terrain alien-like but it was also a time for our group to learn to rely on each other more and to truly experience the outdoor culture of Tongariro National Park that is “world famous in New Zealand.”

Mt. Tangariro (photo by James Thayer '17)