Thursday, 9 July 2009

Mount Doom and the One Ring

View from the highest point in our walk

Way up at the top the sun shining through ice

Another really start for me, 6.30am, trying not to make too much noise so I won't wake up Andy, my snow boarding room mate. Once again, I have been very lucky, and following days of rain, fog and wind, today starts with stars shining in the sky, and the sun starting to show its first rays behind the mountains. It looks like it is going to be a great day for a trek.I am picked up at 7.15am by Sarah, a lovely Kiwi, too full of energy for this time in the morning, especially as I have not had a coffee, at times like this I really miss my expresso machine. When we get to the start of the trek we are joined by a mini bus from Taupa, the main centre for adrenaline rush seekers and also the world's skydiving capital. Like in Tasmania, and the Himalayas, it is bitterly cold and gusts of wind send us shivering while we get ready and kitted for the walk. For the first time I will be taking ice cruttons, as we will probably need them at higher altitude. As we start climbing snow covers our way, first as a thin layer, later on as a white blanket reflecting the rising sun. In the distance behind us we can see Mount Taranaki, around 100 km from where we are.

Mount Taranaki in the distance, but don't blink as you may miss itIt is the most climbed, and probably most photographed peak in NZ. This is Lord of the Rings Country, in front of us is Mount Doom, actually known as Mt Ngauruhoe, if I am not wrong it is where Sauron forged the One Ring.

Mount Doom, but I never found the ring of power

And a different view of the mountain, didn't get to see that one....However, covered in snow it looks completely different. Throughout the day we will come across other areas that were used in the movies. Sarah and Collin pushed us a bit as we were behind schedule and if we didn't make up time we might not be able to do the crossing, get to the highest point and come back. This seemed to work a treat and we all speeded up a bit. One of the most amazing things of the day was walking through some of the dead craters, which in the summer time are use for camping and playing rugby and cricket. Around midday we reached the highest point and Sarah confirmed that we would be able to the crossing. We had been told to bring our own lunch so I had prepared myself some pasta with eggs and bacon and brought lots of fruit to snack on the way. I was surprised when people starting taking out little sandwiches. It goes beyond me how people can live on one or two sandwiches. It is ok for a mid morning snack, what the hobbits will call elevenser's. So, when I was ready to tackle my huge lunch box a tragedy occurred.......i had forgotten my knife and fork!!!! I had brought extra salt and pepper, but nothing to eat my meal with......I soon realized that no one else would have a spare fork, they did not even have one that I could use after they had finished, so I decided to eat my dinner Indian style.

Another pic I don't want my mother to seeI loved the place where we stopped for lunch. The ground was warm, all snow had melted away, and steam was rising. The geothermal heat from the volcanoes comes through the soil and warms you up. As we needed to speed up Sarah decided that the best way to descend was to slide down the slope of the mountain . It was not a great look for me as I was instructed to tuck my fleece and jacket into my tracksuit bottoms and to slide on my arse - it was great fun if a bit undignified.

Sliding down on my wet arse

As I am sliding the small of rotten eggs hits me in the face. Initially I wondered how someone could fart so badly that I would notice it in this open space but as I got to the bottom I realized it could not be someone's wind. I eventually asked and someone explained it was the sulphur coming from the volcano. At the bottom of the slope we walked for a while through another snow-filled crater but now we had to set the tracks. At this time of the year there are hardly any trampers and the snow is pristine from the previous night, making walking a bit harder, but all that more scenic. Once we get across the mountains, and rest for a bit in the last hut/toiltet, the descent seems to be taking forever. The adrenaline kick you get from the views and the sliding wears off and now I am just dying to get to the end. I just want to get out of my wet socks......The team that took us there has the bus waiting for us, with some beers, how very thoughtful.
All in all it has been a great day, an amazing experience, and I am glad that I have been sensible and done it with a group, sometimes it is good to know your limitations. I am shattered and, although Andy invited me to go out with him and his snowboarding mates, I think I am just going to hit the sack.....


  1. I hope you know what 'lunch box' is an analogy for.....but glad to hear you have a huge one.....

  2. No, I didnt know it had another meaning, but i will make a mental note
    I always wanted a buffy lunch box, but now it may sound odd