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Heels 1976


page 48


It all seems so far awar now, so much in the past tense... visions of happiness. The walk along alpine meadows, the flowers, the tussock, the birds, it all seems far away; yet it was only last summer. Scrambling over talus, sweat-blurred visions of Ian's piston-like legs pounding the rocks. The physical relief of having reached the hut - yes the relief, but the visions of nature still lingered.

The discomfort of an early rise, views of an angry dawn through the fly- and dirt-speckled windows, a grunt up to the pass; trying to keep breakfast down. Then the decision to retreat, the race with the weather as we ran down the scree slopes and skipped over boulders. The feeling of well-being as the hut was lashed by wind and hail, and I lay in my pit warm, secure and happy.

Another early start, scrambling up snow and ice-covered rock, revelling in the sunlight, the fear, the peace, the joy. The feeling as we stood on top of the pass and gazed around; Cook, Nazomi, Hooker, Copland and the Sierra; I remember how they danced before our eyes, beckoning, seducing us. The walk down to the track, sub-alpine scrub scratching our legs and fraying our tempers...the bush at Douglas Rock, green, moist, friendly and easy on the eyes; then down to Welcome Flat and the hot pools, stinging our sunburn and sapping our energy. And then we slept.

The next day was overcast and humid; foodless, we set off on the grunt out to the road end, each of us with his own thoughts, each subdued and reflective. Then the smells of exhaust fumes and we are brought back to aggression, harshness and all the other crap that makes up civilisation. But we will live again, and memories of happiness remain.