Hikers rescued from Mt. Doom!

A Dutch tourist, along with two kiwi hiking partners, were rescued from Mount Ngauruhoe in New Zealand over the Easter weekend after they set out on a hike to the summit too late in the day and without the proper gear. The mountain, which stands 7516 feet in height, served as the basis for the fiery Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings films, and the three trekkers are described as avid fans of the blockbuster trilogy.

It seems that Violet Onderwater of the Netherlands met Ryan Hattle and Sam MacDonald on the popular travel site CouchSurfing.com and soon made plans to travel to New Zealand to meet her new friends in person. The trio made plans to make the Lord of the Rings inspired hike to the summit of Mt. Doom, the location of the climactic final scene of the films.

On Saturday, April 3rd, Onderwater and her companions made the road trip to Mount Ngauruhoe, arriving around 1 PM, and setting out for the top in bright sunshine. They reportedly reached the top of the active volcano around 5:30 PM, but on the descent, Onderwater turned her ankle, injuring it in the process. With their progress down the mountain slowed, and foul weather moving in, one of the kiwis used his cell phone to call for help, which resulted in no less than six search and rescue teams being sent out to find the hikers, who were now caught out in the cold rain and wind, with very light clothing on.

Fortunately, the SAR teams found the trekkers fairly quickly, and aside from a sprained ankle, no one was in any great danger. It seems that tax payers may have suffered the most damage, as early estimates put the cost of the rescue operation at a whopping $10,000.

Perhaps they should send the bill to Peter Jackson.


The Tolkien Trail: Touring the real life inspiration behind Middle Earth

Although the classic Lord of the Rings Trilogy was shot in New Zealand, the real life inspiration behind some of Tolkien’s most fantastic landscapes came from Birmingham, England.

This is where Tolkien grew up and spent his childhood exploring mysterious places like Moseley Bog which, according to the local Birmingham website, “is recalled in The Lord of the Rings as the ‘Old Forest’, last of the primeval woods in which Tom Bombadil lived.”

Just down the road from the bog is the Sarehole Mill (above) where Tolkien played as a young child and also where Bilbo Baggins did the same.

As you might imagine, the local community has latched on to their favorite son and now promote the “Tolkien Trail” where enthusiasts can check out landmarks that inspired Middle Earth and also visit Tolkien’s home, church, and other prominent locations from his childhood.

Personally, I’d rather check out New Zealand to get my Tolkien fix. But I would imagine Birmingham would be pretty cool as well.