|'Mt Doom' - Ngauruhoe at dawn|
|Clicking into gear at the crest of the 'Devil's Staircase'|
|Royal red - and not an ounce of snow - still a true summer crossing in the middle of autumn|
|Vibram FiveFingers - Ben's Bikilas ticking over on the smooth South Crater|
Ben and Kristian both decided to take on the Crossing running in their Vibram FiveFingers. Despite the trail's outward appearance of being rough mountainous terrain, since the trail is so well used the actual surface is about 75% finely crushed volcanic rock - an ideal running surface - the Vibrams had no problems skipping over the occasional rocky section. With a zero-drop heel and virtually no cushioning, each footstep would be placed exactly where it was intended.
|An inspired mountain dance at the Emerald Lakes|
|The final climb to Blue Lake before the buzz downhill!|
We were in two mindsets on the run - half of us wanted to push ourselves and see how fast we could churn through the 19.8km trail. The other half wanted to savour the rare occasion of a completely clear morning in the midst of the mountain arena. In the end we managed both, taking photos on the run and stopping for the occasional intoxicating sulphur whiff at the lakes.
|A sensational view over Turangi and the gleaming Lake Taupo. Kristian cranking a casual mid-descent air guitar riff|
|A familiar footprint|
|Blitzing the trails at Craters of the Moon|
To cap off a sensational week, Craters of the Moon mountain bike park on the outskirts of Taupo was the last item on our list. Named after the volcanic craters that steam away in the park, a quality network of trails were just waiting to be explored. The fast flowing Outback trail gave us a good warm-up tour before we sweated up the Grinder, earning ourselves a fun and long winding descent which was aptly named Better than P.