Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mt. Doom Today, Not a Bad Place!

Yes.  Here it is.  The first of the cliche references to Lord of the Rings.  I doubt it will be the last.  I was actually criticized by a kiwi the other day when I named a photo album with a LOTR reference.  My only defence?  It took me almost three months to get to this point.

So last weekend I took a trip with the alpine club (hereto referred to as MUAC) to go tramping up at Tama Lakes.  (tramping = hiking)  What I didn't know, and didn't bother to find out before hand, was where exactly this was.  I honestly didn't care, I just wanted to go.  Anyways, come to find out, we were to be tramping across Tongariro National Park to reach the Tama Lakes.  We started our day by gathering at the bus terminal at 6:45 in the morning.  Yay.  From there it was a three hour drive to the Park.  It was an extremely scenic drive.  The back of my eyelids were gorgeous that day! 

Upon arrival, everyone suited up, or down in this case since it was a wee bit warmer than expected, took a quick look at the map, and headed out.  It didn't take me five minutes before I was tripping over myself.  Once I got over that, and we got out of the brush, we were greeted with this lovely view...

That there is Mt. Ngauruhoe.  This beautiful volcano played Mt. Doom in LOTR.  And we were hiking towards it.  Woo! 

After walking for about an hour, we reached Taranaki Falls.  First we walked over the bridge at the top of the falls and admired Mt. Ruapehu in the distance for a little bit...

And then we headed down about 80 stairs to see the falls themselves...

I hope you agree with me on how pretty the falls are.  If you don't, I don't really want to hear it. :)  Anyways, we spent a good ten minutes admiring and taking pictures of the falls, as well as sitting down and taking a little break.  From there we climbed back up the stairs and headed out on the two hour trek to the Upper and Lower Tama Lakes.  Somewhere during this two hour time span, I slipped and fell into some mud which was hiding some lovely sharp rocks or something.  We'll just say I was a bit scratched up.  But moving on!  Along the way we saw such things as...

Oh yeah.  And then we reached the lakes!  The beauty just kept coming.

This is Lower Tama Lake.  Sadly we did not get any closer to it.  We did, however, get a better view of it.  To reach said view we had to climb a really steep slope of just gravel.  I really did feel like I was climbing Mt. Doom.  

You can somewhat see the two posts at the top of the slope there behind that sticky- outy rock.  That was our path.  As tragic as this path was, the view from the top was TOTALLY worth it.

That's Mt. Ruapehu in the back.  Everyone went picture crazy at this rest stop.  However, we were not done.  We headed out once again.  This time in search of Upper Tama Lake.  It wasn't too hard to find...

Nor was it hard to just sit down and stare.  Thankfully, this is where we ate our lunches.  Talk about the best bagged lunch ever.  After finishing up our food, dodging wasps, and taking a group photo, we said goodbye to Mt. Doom and Upper Tama Lake and headed back the way we came.  The hiking path was actually a loop so we could have kept going and made it back to the village, but it was a little shorter, and I think a little less extreme, to turn back the way we'd came.  No one complained.  So we backtracked our three hour tramp into the wilds of Tongariro National Park. 

Total for the day?  Six hours of tramping, six hours of driving, and six hours of sleeping.  Not too shabby.

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