T'was on a Sunday morning when Frostbite Phil, Licorice Lauchie, Smiling Sarah and Andy Pandy set off up the Ohau for a wander in the Northern Tararuas.
Te Matawai Hut was reached that night in light snow, with only a few complications, the first being Sarah's sudden and inexplicable urge to sit down in the delightfully chilly Ohau River, and the second being the discovery that a red liquid from my stew meat had permeated to most corners of my pack.
The hut had been wrongly named, we found, after a quick glance through the log book, a more suitable name being the Keith Jones Holiday Hut, judging by the number of times his name appears. We also had our first reading about the "luvely Brian Davis" and he popped up again at Arete Biv under the guise of "Hell, it's the luvely Brian Davis again" - shades of the lovely Ami McDonald in the 1949 show. However, enuff of such trivia and back to Te Matawai. Sunday night was properly given page ii page iii page iv page v page 17over to religious reminiscences by Phil, who delighted his audience with such charming tales as how the fatality rate in the club once stood at 10%.
The next morning, after voluble complaints about my snoring, and all lies I tell you, we set off up to Pukematawai which some wag in the Forest Service Route Guide Book says takes 30 mins from the hut - crap.
A quick drop and then onto Arete and a search for the Biv. Phil and I motor right past it in the mist and falling snow, but Lauchie and Sarah spot it - curses, humbled again. Lunch is partaken of and Sarah, who has been having a lack-of-toes problem puts on dry socks for the run to Tarn Ridge.
Visability being poor, a wrangle develops at the first of the Waiohine Pinnacles as to which way to go, two gents being in favour of taking a ridge to the left, one gent saying the correct way was straight ahead and one lady remaining carefully aloof and non-committal while the drama was played out. With the help of that universal peacemaker, a compass, the one gent was found to be wright, and although Phil did an immediate volte-face and claimed to be wright as well, a closer examination revealed that not only was this not so but that it well nigh bloody impossible anyway.
Tarn Ridge Hut was reached and after tea it was discovered that Lauchie had brought some licorice allsorts with him, and so the wheedling began:
"Would you like to borrow my hut shoes Lauchie?" - me.
"Would you like some tomato sauce with your sausages tomorrow Lauchie?" - Phil.
"Would you like a kick up the arse?" - anon.
I began to wonder at the lengths some people would go for sweets when I heard Sarah tell Lauchie to change his position; however, this was only a request for him to move in his bunk so she could stand on the edge of it to get out of hers - what an anticlimax.
Next morning Sarah woke us at 6.15am which pissed me off no end as I'd woken up every hour during the night and looked at my watch to ensure an early start and had then had my thunder stolen. Frozen boots - chiz, moan, groan - and further complaints about my snoring. However, as I astutely realised, this was a conspiracy to belittle my effort, as they could not snore as well as I.
Off we trudged in beautiful weather, one of those "wish you were here" days as opposed to the "wish the hell we weren't here" days like the one before. Up Girdlestone - snap, snap went the cameras - up Brockett - more snap, snap - and then onto Mitre where Tapuaenuku could be seen to the South - or so Phil said.
Mitre Flats for lunch and then out to the road end where Sarah got a ride to a farm house to telephone for transport. When we arrived we found her neatly ensconced with half a dozen small kids, reading them such world-shattering stories as the frog and the princess, or was it the other way round? Never mind, but it was a touching scene to see the Sarah we thought we knew, so gently domesticated. We nearly cried.
Taxi to Masterton after the cow-cockie had given us a cup of coffee, and then hitched home. Shit-hot.
Fellow travellers: Phil Burgess, Lauchie Duff, Sarah Maclean, Andy Wright.