We must venture deep into Mordor…
…but will not be going alone…
First of all I would like to thank all of you who have donated, read, commented and complimented on the stories I wrote so far.
It is nice to know that we can share our adventures with you in this way and that they are appreciated as well.
The positive feedback I got really motivates me to keep up the writing, even though it sometimes is hard to find the time to do it.
A tramper’s life is, contrary to popular beliefs, quite busy, and on those occasions that we’re not actually walking there’s often lots of other things that need doing. (washing, eating, sleeping etc.)
This is also the reason that we never reply to the comments, but be assured that we appreciate all the messages, donations and positive reactions we get! Thank you all!
Because we did travel through one of the most epic Lord Of The Rings sceneries I decided to insert some of the characters and their famous quotes and sayings into this now partly fictional story.
As usual I couldn’t really help myself and the whole adventure became more of a Terry Pratchett fantasy than an actual Tolkien style tale, but be assured I meant no disrespect towards the original story and its brilliant writer. (I hope you’re not offended Mr Hobbithunter.)
While writing I noticed my head began to sprout increasingly weird situations and fantasies, and for once I decided to give my imagination free reigns and just see what would be the end result.
Honestly, when I read back the whole thing I was equally impressed and worried with myself.
Let’s just say that I might have taken it too far, but wanted to finish the whole thing nonetheless.
If you have not seen the LOTR movies at least 3 times none of this particular blog will probably make any sense to you.
I recommend you just skip it and wait for the one that’s about the Tararua Ranges and will be in ‘normal’ style again.
If you have seen the movies you’ll probably still not understand all of it, but at least some things will make sense. Sort of.
Enjoy reading and please let me know what you thought about it in the comments section. Cheers.
We were still in Wanganui were we spent the last night close to a park with a massive playground.
There was a big flying fox (zipline) which once again proved to me the people here have a better understanding of how to have a good time than we do back home;
In the Netherlands something like this would never be allowed in a kids playground because of a 100 different safety regulations and what-not. They take all the fun and excitement out of being a kid just to maybe prevent possible harm or accidents. Life isn’t like that either. Toughen up!
Anyway, it was time to move on so we got into our spaceships and took off.
But something went wrong when I accidentally pushed the wrong button and from here on the normal line between what’s real and fantasy became somewhat vague…
FLASH! Suddenly we were in a beautiful meadow, surrounded by the most intriguing characters.
They all sat in a ring, loudly conversing about some or other big issue, it so seemed.
‘This evil must be destroyed!’, a stately looking guy with pointy ears said.
‘We must put an end to this spreading evil before it consumes us all!’
‘It is a gift; a gift to the people of Gondor’, Ned Stark said.
‘No Boromir, said Aragorn. ‘None can wield this power but the dank lord himself’
Oke, not Ned Stark than. Confusing.
‘We must travel around the mountain, through the kingdom of Rohan and deep into Mordor’ proclaimed a older beardy man in grey robes.
‘Can we come too?’ asked a bunch of Hobbits and a midget with an axe.
‘Sigh, sure, why not’ said Gandalf, apologetically looking at Elrond, lord of the Elves and manager of the Elf Events Enterprise.
‘Cool, more travelers’ I said.
‘We’re following the TA trail and going in the same direction.
‘Whattayasay we travel together? The more the Merrier!’
‘whats-that?’ asked one of the Hobbits.
‘Not you dummy’ said Pippin, slapping the first one on the back of the head.
‘Very well, but I will send Legolas, my best tour guide, with you, so you will not lose your way’ said Elrond.
‘Now gather for the group picture to immortalize the posse of this epic quest to stop Sauron’s Sightseeing Spectacles on this Thee-Aa Trail’.
It took some time exchanging introductions and getting everyone on the steps, as Gimli and the Hobbits had to go in front.
Frodo and Sam were nowhere to be seen, probably playing around with that invisibility ring again.
‘Nine plus two companions’ said Elrond. ‘You shall be the Fellowship Of The Thing!’
‘Te Araroa’ I politely suggested.
‘The fellowship of Trala Rowa!’ Elrond again announced, making a majestic gesture with his arms.
‘Te Araroa’ Eline helpfully corrected.
‘Whatever. Now off with you’
And so our journey into the land of Tongariro started, now suddenly accompanied by 9 new travellers and nonsensical paragraphs in this otherwise amazing story.
Here you can see us with the Fellowship. Too bad Aragorn is half hidden behind his sword and Gandalf has his eyes closed, but no matter, we look good enough to compensate that.
Around the mountain (Mt. Ruapehu)
As we set off it became apparent our partly fictional fantasy companions were not with us all the time. They randomly popped into existence every now and then to perform an action or provide entertaining if somewhat weird commentary at times, before fading into oblivion again.
We got used to it rather quickly and after a while if didn’t really bother us anymore.
It was a beautiful day for hiking, half overcast with some spells of sun and the temperature being not to warm. We enjoyed a well maintained track leading us to lush landscapes, while the big mountain in the background slowly came more into perspective.
At a certain time we entered a more bushy area where the trees grew more abundant.
There was a soft breeze and the sound of rustling leafs filled the air.
‘The trees are talking’ said Legolas.
‘What are they saying?’ asked Gimli.
‘The white wizard approaches’ answered Legolas.
‘It’s Saruman!’ screamed Aragorn.
All of a sudden a guy in white pyamas jumped out from behind the trees, pointing his staff and uttering a string of funny sounding words.
The staff shot a flash of the brightest white and the spell shot towards us like a blazing arrow.
Legolas leaped in front of the rest, protecting the smaller ones but taking the full blow of the curse.
A second flash followed as the Elf was thrown back, his body emitting a pale shimmering light.
The force of the spell was so strong Frodo’s sword began to glow blue, and we all felt a tingling sensation creeping across our spines.
The curse had affected us alright, though Legolas’ Elven powers had absorbed most of the magic.
Or so we thought at first…
We continued on, but soon found that it was hard to focus, and the reality kept shifting somehow.
At some moment it was neigh impossible to tell what was up or down. That curse had a strange effect and it took us a long time to get rid of its delusions.
Up? Or Down?
When we stumbled out of the forest we followed the path and turned the corner.
SPLASH! ‘Whoah’ Said Sam, now soaking wet.
‘Where did that water come from?!’
There was a big flat body of water around the corner alright.
‘Blessed be these local Kiwi’s for not taking life too seriously and naming the place accordingly’ snickered Gandalf, as Sam and Frodo dried themselves up.
Fortunately no other surprises awaited us that day, and we made it to the first hut without any further interruptions.
Eline studied the maps a bit and was relaxing outside while I made some small talk with the other two occupants of the hut; two nice older fellows whom were members of the Whanganui Trampers Club, to which the hut belonged. They were there to do some work on the lightning and install a new solar panel. Good natured guys.
The next day the sun and birds called us out early and we had another beautiful hike. Nothing happened until noon.
It was easy walking, although sometimes it took a little searching for the next trail sign.
Gimli kept arguing that we had to go under the mountain, through the mines of Moria, but besides him no one found that idea very appealing.
He kept nagging though, drinking from his wineskin all the time, saying he ‘wanted to go swim with hairy little women’ and at a certain point I lost my temper and picked the midget up and dumped him down the nearest mine shaft I could find.
I felt a little guilty afterwards but the others didn’t seem to object.
We hiked on, mostly following either rivers tracks or boardwalks. This middle earth was absolutely stunning.
The streams there are melt water coming straight from the top of the mountains. It is the most crystal clear and refreshing water you can find and a bliss on a warm day of hiking in the sun.
When I tried to fill up my bottles I lost grip on one and it flushed down with the stream.
Boromir immediately sprung into action; he blew his horn vigorously and jumped in after it.
‘For Gondor!’ he screamed.
I yelled after him it was just a plastic bottle, but it was too late. Hey clutched the bottle but then disappeared, going over the edge of a waterfall, all the while blowing that white horn.
We searched for a long time, but only found back the bottle. There was no sign of Boromir, whose faith, it seemed, is to always die early in the stories, no matter which character he personalizes. Poor man.
Luckily, with some help of Elines poles, we did manage to got the bottle back out, so he didn’t die in vain. His sacrifice will be remembered.
Eventually we came onto a more descent road, leading off to the ski fields high up at the summit. We had to walk it down for a couple of km though, before it would take us back onto the trail.
After some time of constantly descending over asphalt, a car honked behind us and pulled over.
It was the two gentle guys from the last hut. They were so kind to offer us a ride to the start of the track, saving us more dreadful road walking. Thankful, we took our bags off, got it all neatly stuffed in the booth and took a seat in the back.
They drove us around the corner, about 15 meters further, and parked the car to the side of the road, right in front of a walkway and something that suspiciously looked like a TA signpost.
‘you gotta be kidding me’ I said, as they started to laugh out loud.
‘Told you we would save you the last part of asphalt’ the driver responded, a mischievous grin on his face.
Lol, Kiwi humour. We joked some more, profusely thanked them and headed on, leaving the still laughing guys behind us.
They would later find out we pranked them too, as we secretly left Frodo and Sam behind in the booth of the car. That’ll scare them good when they jump out!
They’ll just have to take a cab back later. Or something like that. I’m sure they’ll be fine. Probably. I hope.
‘We now enter the realm of Rohan’ Gandalf said.
It was true, the landscape was changing and slowly became more flat and stretched out into the horizon. Less trees and more grassy knobs decorated the planes, while big rocks multiplied in numbers, scattered here and there along the route.
The canyons in between became deeper and more frequent too, taking us a lot longer to cross.
We had already decided to not stay at the second hut were we had lunch, but push on to the third.
It was already dusk and the hut was supposedly only 1.5 km away, but when we climbed over the ridge we looked right into a deep canyon, the track leading all the way down, over a bridge and back up at the other side. A last challenge before reaching our destination.
It was dark by the time we eventually got the overstuffed hut.
I woke up in a bunk bed, something jostling me awake.
‘Good morning princess’, I said to Eline. ‘Did you sleep well?’
‘Dark have been my dreams of late’ the scruffy bearded man laying next to me replied.
I all but flew up of my mattress, the weird dude scaring the living daylights out of me.
Even more hikers had come in during the later hours when we were already sleeping, apparently accompanied by the king of Rohan. Some hikers sleeping on the ground, near the stove, others having taken any free bunk beds that were left.
I chose to get out of the hut and take a look outside.
‘A red sun rises. Blood has been spilled this night’, Legolas said, standing guard on a formation of rocks.
‘Thanks for the warning buddy.’ I said. ‘I’ll make sure not to piss of any of the ladies then’
He looked at me quizzically but didn’t offer a reply.
I looked out into the distance and saw he was right. It was a beautiful sunrise indeed.
When I looked back Eline had awoken too, doing her morning greeting ritual towards the light, praising the sun.
Or she was just tying her shoelaces, I’m not entirely sure.
We hung around the hut for a while longer but eventually said our goodbyes to the others hikers, king Theoden and the Rohirim. They were on their way to the Helmsdeep Holiday Park, trying to escape the onslaught of Saurons massive tourism troops.
Shortly thereafter we crossed the borders and left the lands of Rohan, entering the blackened and desolate lands of Mordor. There was hardly any trees or plants here. There was dark stones and hills of grush and gravel as far as the eye could see.
It faintly started to smell of sulphur.
After an undefinable amount of time; it seemed to lose its hold in this place, we came across a warning sign.
On the back it said. ‘Beware: A Balrog has been spotted in this area’
‘What’s a Balrog?’, asked Merry.
‘A foul creature of shadow and flame. A demon from the ancient world.’, answered Gandalf.
Right then a terrible shrieking sounded behind us. There, just over the edge of the ridge behind us a gigantic shape of dark smoke appeared, eyes furiously blazing red hot.
It focused its gaze on us and shrieked a mind-numbing roar again. I could almost feel the heat come of it as it moved into action, flames shooting out of its black body at all sides.
‘Elendil!’ Aragorn screamed, drawing his sword with a heroic flair and charging towards the monstrosity.
‘what does that even mean man?!’ asked Gandalf, as he pulled the would-be king back by his cape as he ran by.
‘Use your wit lad! You really think you could take on a 30 meter high demon with that metal stick?’
Aragorn turned to Gandalf, his eyes full of honour and passion; ‘for Frodo’, he whispered, and ran off again.
Gandalf just tripped him with his staff and bellowed; ‘Start making sense fool, escape over that bridge there yonder. Do as I say! Swords are of no more use here! I’ll distract him with some fireworks!’
Finally coming to his senses Aragorn turned around, and we ran towards the river of ice down below. Instead of crossing the bridge we thought it a better idea to hide behind some big rocks, hoping the demon wouldn’t find us there.
When we looked behind us we saw the Balrog wasn’t pursuing us. Instead he went after Gandalf, who had thought we escaped over the river and was now standing on the middle of the bridge, facing the demon.
‘You cannot pass!’ he said, as a bright white light starting to surround him, filling the sky with sparkles’
‘I’m a servant of the secret fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun!’
The demon looked down at him and snorted, clearly thinking otherwise, and took a first step onto the frail looking bridge. It groaned beneath the extra weight.
The wizard started to glow, heaving his staff high and roared; ‘YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!!’
He swung his staff down hard on the bridge floorboard, and a loud ‘CRACK’ sounded thru the valley.
We waited expectantly, hoping to see a proper magical showdown, but nothing else was forthcoming.
Gandalf stood, looking defiantly at the shape of shadow and fire, a challenge in his eyes.
‘Go back to the shadows.’
The Balrog snorted again, unfolded his humongous wings and took of into the air. He flew higher, passing right over the baffled wizard and landed on the other side. He raised his claw like finger, pointing directly at the still sparkling wizard, laughing with a sound of cinders escaping a campfire.
Gandalf grew red-faced as the Balrog turned his back to the man in grey, spreading his wings again and preparing to take off.
‘Hey! That’s not fair!, Gandalf yelled.
‘That’s cheating! You cannot pass! Not like that! Heeey!’
But it was no use; the Balrog had taken flight again and was already disappearing into the distance.
Gandalf just stood on that bridge, his frustration boiling over, jumping up and down, screaming angry. ‘You cannot pass! Cannot, cannot, cannot!’
We watched surprised and then shocked, as we saw the bridge collapse under the increased weight of the old man’s jumping as he and it crashed into the icy roaring river. The sound was terrible as wooden planks broke and the mighty power of the current dragged everything along with it.
In just a heartbeat it was over, and silence once again returned to the valley, the Balrog, bridge or wizard nowhere to be seen.
What a way to go. We mourned for Gandalf but had to go on without him and were now forced to wade through the icy river, as the bridge was completely gone.
Eline was most distraught by the wizards demise, or maybe she just pulled that face because the water just was really, really cold and painful to walk through.
Now without our trusted magician, we were only 6. But we had to continue, and so we did.
The landscape didn’t change much as we walked up and then down hillside after hillside of loose rocks, barely held together by what sparse scrubby vegetation there still was.
Then, suddenly, after walking over yet another hill, we could see it, looming in the distance, the huge dark iconic shape unmistakable against the backlight; Mount Doom