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Heels 1969

Suffer Little Children, Suffer

page 3

Suffer Little Children, Suffer

Do you know why you go tramping? I know why you go tramping. It's because you like suffering. You'll swear black and blue that you go tramping for the scenery and the companionship - but what's that 90 per cent of the time? Non existent or cold and wet. Take a typical example:- The Winter Northern.

Scene 1:

Impotent orange torch beams trying to penetrate the rain on the way up a flooded Ohau. You are soaked, numb, and scared of drowning. A twisted ankle completes the picture.

Five hours of uneasy sleep on boards, then a greasy breakfast sets you up for several hours of uncomfortable climbing onto:-

Scene II:

The freezing misty tops, peering around, wondering where Tarn Ridge got to. Great fund. Barking your shins on the not-quite-hard-enough crust, is an ecstasy only surpassed by that of desperately worming your way into frozen socks and boots in a hut that resembles a full cattle truck.

Scene III:

Roadwalking. Need I say more?

Advanced suffering is a more involved business and must be planned accordingly. The common garden masochist takes a little, unappetising food with him, clapped out gear, (e.g. sole-less boots), and goes flat out along familiar, muddy tracks. His actions can be aped by anyone. But to bring about at least a week of sustained hardship without having it cut short by S.A.R., one must go a little further. The misdirected, or at least badly packed, airdrop; or a negligently unintentional sojourn in a West Coast gorge - require a touch of finesse. Planning a long trip without adequate fitness or experience raises your chances for a prolonged bout of suffering, too.

Last weekend, (yes, Queen's Birthday), three of us ventured into the Orongorongos in spite of an already ferocious Southerly. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty. We persisted in bashing through an infernal diabolic, malignant, pernicious, noxious, virulent, foul, rank, venomous, abominable, leatherwood, hail, snow, wind, mist, wind-falls (old, new, and concealed), supplejack - page 4in fact The Lot - on a circular ridge in a nowhere place; once with nauseating choice of that or a near vertical, snow-speckled precipice, (ever had exposure of both sorts in the extreme?). It was brown trouser country. Teetering along on the brink of this abyss, I thought that if I slipped, I would try to hug a bush as I went. This went on until it was too late to find a decent campsite - the tent was "pitched" on a sloping nettle patch in a creek bed. The nettles concealed sharp rocks....

It was quite easy really. The technique could have been improved upon by not believing the compass, or by trying to do it in the dark without storm gear - but these are mere extras, and not essential.