Friday, 13 December 2013

Tama Lakes

This is a picture of the Upper Tama Lake near Mt Ruapehu which is in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand.

It is also a picture of my foot, but we'll come back to that. Know for now that the foot is deliberate, not a mistake.

There are two Tama lakes, an upper and a lower and they are both volcanic craters. Pretty much everything in this area is volcanic and they used places like this to stand in for Mordor in the LOTR movies. Ngaruahoe, the mountain they used for Mt Doom is the rising edge on the left of the picture.

To get to the lakes takes about three hours walk from Whakapapa Village, which you can drive to. I've walked this track three times now and the last time I did it the Whakapapa end was a bit dodgy and hard going. I'm pleased to say there has been a lot of good work done there. Much of the track would be okay to walk with a pushchair if you had to. There are some steps here and there but the rest of it is nicely gravelled walkways and quite a lot of it is flat.

However once past the lower lake the going is a bit tougher because the track degenerates to a 'poled route' by which you scramble up a steep slope and along a ridge. It's only about 45 minutes going and not too tough really, and from the ridge top you get this view to the upper lake. Then you turn around and go back.

Now about the foot.

You'll notice I am not wearing boots, I'm wearing sandals. I have boots but I've given up wearing them. The sandals, sometimes padded with socks as shown but usually not, really do the job for me. They don't compress my toes like boots do and even over rough ground they seem to protect my feet just fine. If I have to wade a stream they dry out faster (I take the socks off first). This track does not require stream wading, plenty of streams but there are bridges if the stream is bigger than a jump.

If I were walking through serious snow I'd probably wear boots, though earlier this year I was happily walking through light snow in sandals without socks. These are, of course, heavy duty sandals and they can take a bit of punishment. Mine are Tevas, but Mrs has a different brand so the particular type doesn't matter too much I think.

The socks also keep the sun off my feet which mattered on this occasion because I was silly enough to forget to put sunscreen on the rest of me (cloudy day... not really an excuse) and I paid for it later on my knees, nose and hands. But my feet were fine.

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