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It dawned a sunny Sunday morning, a sleep in and late start saw 16 of us embark on a journey into Edoras - Lord of the Rings land, an adventure that saw us joined by Frodo and Gandalf.
We left Ashburton and Methven at a resonable hour and met at 10am at the Mt Somers General Store for pre trip coffee. While there we ran into a large contingent from the Mid Canterbury 4WD club. Once the coffee was ordered and filled it was back into the vehicles and into the back country towards Lord of the Rings territory.
At the entrance to the Hakatere Conservation Area we stopped at the Hakatere Heritage Buildings to have a look around and to hear about the plans in place for restoring the buildings and turning them into a summer visitor centre and DOC office. It was great to see them under the fresh dumping of snow that came through only a few days earlier.
Back into the vehicles and on with our journey (to middle earth), our next stop was Lake Camp and Lake Clearwater. Lake Camp was perfectly calm and not a ripple on the surface, Lake Clearwater had a few ripples but we stopped at the road at the end of the baches and looked down on the lake. Here we ran into a group from the Geraldine Tramping Club who were also out for the day and planning on taking a walk up to Mt Sunday too. We started wondering what the most number of people on top of Mt Sunday was at any one time.....
Onwards with the journey once more, deeper into the back country, closer to middle earth and Edoras and to the Lord of the Rings. We stopped at a little viewing area just before the road drops down to the Potts River and passes Mt Potts Station and Helipark. While appreciating the view, who should take the same opportunity..........none other than Gandalf and Frodo, on their own journey to middle earth.
We climbed back into the vehicles and headed to the car park at the start of the track to Mt Sunday. The group from the Geraldine club were already there, but there were no issues with car parking as there is ample room for loads of cars. We sorted ourselves out got our gear and headed out on the track. We were also taking the opportunity to check out DOC handywork with the new bridges and boardwalks. Now there is no need to get your feet wet getting from the car park to Mt Sunday, it's a dry feet journey from now on. Which is a pretty good thing especially at this time of year when icy cold doesn't even begin to describe the temperature of the water.
By now there is only a scattering of snow on the ground and we make it to the top with ease. Up top we come across the Geraldine group sitting down to lunch and a cuppa. We dutifully join them, cuppas all round and lively conversation. In answer to how many on top, all up there were about 32 of us, not sure if it's a record but it's definitely a decent number.
With lunch done and dusted, and the arrival of Gandalf and Frodo done we headed on our return journey back to the cars where we were engaged in a friendly snow ball fight with the Geraldine lot. No winners or losers just lots of sunny wet fun.
We then carried on up the road to Erewhon Station, home of the Clydesdale Horse stud. Here we stopped at the yard had a chat to one of the workers before taking a short walk to the Clyde River and a bit of a way into it to check out the big mountain scenery. Next time we are out here we will be taking a clydesdale and wagon ride further up the Clyde because walking on the boulders is a bit draining, best to let the animals take care of that.