We cooked dinner and then watched Into the Wild on the laptop while drinking hot chocolate and eating gingernuts --- my new favorite treat. After a cold night sleeping in the car at a campsite, we woke up early the next morning to start our hike.
The Tongariro Crossing is a world-renowned 18.5 kilometer trek from one side to the other. Because of the poor weather forecast, we planned on hiking a small portion and turning around once the clouds rolled in.
As we were hiking closer to Mt. Ngauruhoe ("Mt. Doom"), Mark made the comment that it really didn't look that big.
"We could summit that," he said.
"Yeah, definitely," I replied with obvious sarcasm.
Once we reached the bottom of the mountain, he turned and said "Alright, you ready?"
Ready for what? I had no idea he was serious about climbing this mountain, but I couldn't back out now. So, I hesitantly followed in his steps up the snowy ridge.
A few times after some nerve-racking slips on the ice, I became extremely uncomfortable and just wanted to turn around, but I tried to stay composed and continued to follow Mark up.
When we finally reached the top, it was all worth it. The clouds had covered the majority of the peak at this point, but we were able to see over them for a short period of time and view the boundless National Park below us.