Mount Doom…dom, dom, dom…

One does not simply walk into Mordor. ~ Boromir

Well we did. And little did we know it was no joke!

On Day 4, Jeff and I set out for Mount Ngauruhoe aka Mount Doom with little hiking experience. I mean, does Enchanted Rock really count compared to a big-ass 8-hour-mountain-hike straight up??

So, we grab a map and in 2-D, in cartoon format, looks do-able, right?

Here’s what we see from the road and it’s not as cute as the tiny triangles on the map dammit!

I mean, you can’t even see the top of it!!

The town we were staying in was so small that there was one cafe, one gas station (which was the only one around for miles) and two lodges. We stayed at Park Hotel, which we highly recommend.

Back to the mountain…Jeff and I had to drive to the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. In our (basically new) Keens and backpack, we were off!

So what do you pack if you’re new to backpacking and planning to climb one of the highest mountains in NZ for 8 hours? Here’s what I had:

1. First aid kit

2. Sunblock, Off, chapstick

3. Water (12 ounces, yeah I know)

4. Jerky (for the brother)

5. Lifestraw

Hey, you never know right? Would’ve made the brother test it first, of course.

So as you can see, we had no damn clue what we were doing. Nevertheless, we persisted!

Looks like they’re missing Lifestraw in their essential gear list. IJS.

And we’re off!

Jeff looks tired already, I look lost. And we’re only 5 min in.

This hike was no damn joke! It was STRAIGHT UPHILL FOR THREE HOURS!!! I kept asking if we were even at the base of the mountain, it was about 2 hours of forest first. Everything hurt, even breathing. Who the hell came up with this bright idea anyway?!

Twelve ounces of water went quick. I was seriously feeling like Frodo and Sam with those chapped-ass lips.

Yeah that’s how Jeff and I felt about an hour inBut if they could make it for 3 movies with 5 drops of water, I could hold out!We kept passing streams and Jeff wouldn’t use the Life Straw. 😡

Oh yeah, and we ran across this, just to keep us on our toes 🙄

That was a looooong 700meters, every sound was death (at least to me), Jeff was having a blast. 🙄

But when we got up what a sight!

Before we could get any further up, I mentioned to Jeff, “that’s weird, we’re the only ones going up, haven’t seen even one other person going up. Everyone is in a hurry to get down.” Still, we tuck away the old survival instincts and keep trucking up.

Until a guide hurrying down yells out “bad weather coming, I’d turn around if I were you!” And then, literally out of nowhere, we see this…

Temps dropped literally 15-20 degrees and everything went dark. Finally the spidey senses kicked in and we didn’t linger any longer. Adios Mount Doom!

This is an active volcano, and yes, that is a thermal geyser on the sides. And yes, that’s hell and fury descending on the summit. Yikes.

Rock and pool/is nice and cool/so juicy sweet!/only wish/to catch a fish/so juicy sweet!

The next day was rainy and cold but we were determined to continue to explore Middle Earth. We found Tawhai Falls aka Gollum’s Pool, and it was beautiful. We could see exactly where the Sméagol splashed in the serene setting…

Look at all that water for the Life Straw!

Yep that’s Jeff almost biting the bullet! Hahhaa, the dork

Day 4/5 was a success despite the weather. And Boromir was 💯, one doesn’t simply walk in to Mordor, at least not without a (useless) Life Straw! Note: if you hike with me in the near future, and we’re near a stream, you know what what I’ll be pushing 😉

A Long Expected Journey

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.

Good shot of Bag End, Jeff!

For our non-Tolkien friends, that’s the start of The Hobbit. And if you haven’t read Tolkien’s works, do yourself a favor and get on that stat.

Jeff and I visited the Mecca of LOTR monuments, Hobbiton. This is located in a little town called Matamata, NZ (which I’ll let Jeff at a later post blog about). It didn’t disappoint! We were worried that it would rain (it did the day before), but it was nice and sunny and about 68 degrees. We were part of about 40 people in our group, but seemed fairly small. The guide asked several questions to quiz our knowledge and it was awesome to be surrounded by other geeks (and yes, Jeff and I held our own on the quizzing).

Jeff reppin the Spurs out here

Back to Hobbiton, these little houses were too much. Jeff and I kept breaking from the group to get up close (even though we were warned there was electric fences)!

Yes I was pushing Jeff here. I told him to move so we could get the front door! Did he listen though?! 😡

We were in heaven. Jeff said that if he were a character in Middle Earth, he’d be a hobbit. Relaxing, smoking Southfarthing leaf, walking everywhere with bare feet. He already has the hairy feet down, blech.

“On a hill above the ground there lay a dork hobbit.” Note above Jeff are Bilbo Baggins clothes hanging on the line outside his hole ❤️

We tried to soak up as much as we could, the houses often had benches, mailboxes, gardens all to hobbit scale! And the gardens were absolutely stunning!

Even had smoke coming out of the chimneys!

The pic above is Sam’s House. At the end he was married to Lovely Rosie Cotton with the flowers in her hair. This is where his kiddo runs up to him and hugs him at the end. Guide told us little known fact: Peter Jackson (the movie director ) wanted the scene to be authentic, so he had the actors use their own kiddos. The little boy is actually Sean Astin’s daughter, and the baby is Sarah McCloud’s.

Jeff first read The Hobbit when he was in 4th grade, long , loooooong ago. Wait, I’m older than he is, so not that long ago.

Finally, we made it to the long awaited spot: Bag End!

If you watched the movie, you’ll remember Bilbo’s one hundred and eleventieth birthday party. Here’s the party by the tree.

To top off our journey, we had a complimentary beer at the Green Dragon! Ah, again as a fan, those words are worth savoring. A drink at the Green Dragon

Welcome to the gun show at the Green Dragon!💪🏼

LOTR fans, check out the name on the barrel.


Ok guys, check this out…we are staying in a hobbit hole at Woodlyn Park in Waitomo

Just too cool.

And before I forget, the owner of this place was beyond amazing/weird/friendly.

She had her pet possum Titzy. Titzy tried to take Jeff’s finger off. I loved Titzy.

And let’s not forget the resident pig, Joseph.

Side note: Joseph scared the crap out of me, he was snorting through the hedge above our hobbit hole, and I thought it was a wild boar ready to maul me. It was just Joseph. Damn Joseph.

Jeff and I ate at Tomo, the restaurant was a gem! Billed as an authentic Kiwi Restaurant, we shoveled this down our throats!

We also checked out the forest next to our hobbit hole. Lookout Point was amazing!

That’s it for our first full day in Middle Earth. Our expected journey surpassed our wildest imagination. Tomorrow we check out the Glow Worm caves and then retrace Bilbo’s steps as he took off for his Unexpected Adventure.