By Kate Williman, 18 August 2009
First trip of the year. I'd had vague plans involving the Orongorongos, but my new flatmate Morgan mentioned some plan involving the uni club and the Tararuas, which sounded just as vague, but more interesting. My other new flatmate Curtis was keen to come too. Curtis is a Canadian exchange student. Bless international students. They come mentally loaded up with images of NZ as something straight out of Lord of the Rings. Middle Earth seems to have a lot less rain and mud than the rest of New Zealand. One trip into the NZ wilds, however, and most internationals will either have their spirits crushed or become disturbed enough to be inducted into the club.
Skidded to a halt in the Waingawa carpark at 12:13pm in a self-formed puddle of melting tyre goo on the hottest day of the year. We oozed out of the car in search of shade but found only 3 imposing sinewy figures, fresh from South island escapades. Imposing sinewy figures proved to be considerably faster and left us at the bottom of Mitre Ridge. Not a worry, we ambled up in sunshine, meandered across and over to Girdlestone, and wandered back across to the unnamed peak above Arete Forks. Ambling, meandering and wandering took a while. Lost the correct spur and the rest of the daylight at approximately the same time. Continued Curtis's NZ botanical education - had started with spaniards, now moved to leatherwood. Lessons continued for 4 hours, followed by 2 hours' creek bashing. Started to have serious doubts about quality of my head torch over this time. At least Curtis had no worries like this, actually, he had no headtorch. Gave up trying to find the hut and reassure the sinewy people of our survival at 2:30 a.m., and simply got our sleeping bags out. Woken at 7:30 a.m. by the dulcet tones of a long drop door slamming and the sight of Hazel in her boxers. Yes we had camped out next to the dunny, you would think the smell would have alerted us just like that guy in Touching the Void, it was a similar life-and-death situation after all, although dramatism was slightly marred by Hazel et al's "oh it's you."
Well the fast and sinewy team stole our stove and headed off, leaving us to amble on behind. Curtis graduated to ongaonga. Made emergency camp at Mitre Flats Hut and ate the last of our supplies. Next day experienced moral conundrum of whether it's poor etiquette to lose flatmate in bush within a week of them moving in. Apparently Curtis took a side-trip to complete postgrad research on bush lawyer. Straggled out of bush 11 a.m. and inhaled deli counter of Pak n Save Masterton.
Have not taken Curtis tramping again.