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Heels 1970

'The Agony And The Ecstasy' or Nelson Lakes, May 1970

'The Agony And The Ecstasy' or Nelson Lakes, May 1970


The week started with a seminar on conservation which commenced during the first Saturday of the May vacation and continued thru until early Sunday afternoon. Thus the trip proper did not start until Sunday afternoon.

Act One

11 May

Scene I

Lake Rotoroa Motor Camp

Enter nine keen young trampers who leap out of the bus that has transported them from Rotoiti Lodge and who are immediately attacked by sandflies and slowly start to freeze in the chilling southerly wind flowing across a lake pictureseque in the extreme.

They are shocked out of their frozen existence by the news that the launch is not sailing because the lake is too rough.

Impatience breaks out and the trampers exit east around the lake on foot.

Act Two

11 May

Scene I

Sabine Hut


Enter one tramper who throws his pack on the ground and is immediately attacked by about 50 wasps. Tramper rushes into hut but is rapidly seen to exit in a hot sweat and take refuge under a tree and eat his lunch and await the other trampers in the shade. Soon the air is filled with the smell of insect repellant. Five minutes after the last tramper arrives, the launch arrives from across the lake with a load of trampers.

Time saved on stage one = 5 minutes.

Scene II

River Flat Sabine River


Enter nine trampers who frantically try to light a fire. 40 minutes work is rewarded by smoke and flame.

Enter one Kea. Exit the sun.

Trampers huddle round fire, talking, eating, singing. Some pitch a tent, one strings up his hammock, others decide that 'sleeping out is in' and insert pits and covers between other tent and ground.

Act Three

12 May

Scene I

as before


Attempted exit of Kea with billy lid. Exit Kea without lid. Trampers awake and survey frosty ground and frozen boots. Frantic attempts at boot-thawing occur and several trampers are seen running around in their boots attempting to restore circulation.

page 5

Scene II

West Sabine Winter Olympic Stadium

Five trampers approach the now infamous Winter Olympics of August 1969. Those with ice-axes approach the rink with gusto but retreat on the sound of cracking ice. Party exits south somewhat disappointed.

Scene III

Rock Bivvy West Sabine


Enter 5 trampers who set about preparing tea. Jelly is made and set at 4:45 as others arrive. A loose pile of wood appears and spirited attempts at firelighting occur. Transient flames appear from time to time but the fire seems to obey a little known corollary of Murphy's Law and goes out whenever a billy is placed on the fire. Persistance is rewarded at 7:45 and the dehy stew is soon on the boil and is eaten at 9:00pm. Jelly follows at 9:15. Sleep occurs under the rock or in tents, one strategically placed in a bog.

Act Four

13 May

Scene I

Blue Lake and Lake Constance

Enter three trampers who gaze at 'unblue lake'; shutter clicking follows until the party moves off to Lake Constance via as difficult a route as possible, others choosing easier route. Shutters are again clicked on top of the scree overlooking the lake which is partly frozen over and reflects the mountains near the Waiau Pass. Blue Lake is much bluer from this position. One tramper (your's truly) sees a black cloud approaching during lunch and foolishly predicts rain during the evening.

Scene II

Sabine Forks Hut


Dark but welcoming hut. Enter trampers, in small groups over a period of 40 minutes. Exit intermittently various trampers to collect firewood ('anything except beech') and to wash even. Dinner occurs at a more convenient time and is followed by singing and an interesting demonstration of double-bunking techniques.

Act Five

Scene I

14 May

Travers Saddle


Another fine day, no rain!?

Enter one keen fit tramper from Sabine River side, throws down his pack at cairn and amuses himself by climbing various rocky nergs (slag heaps) while waiting for the others to arrive. This is the signal for two strange ceremonies to occur. A tin of 'Mini drink' is produced and after dilution it does the rounds. The 'dreaded group photograph' occurs four times, each time using delayed action. Party exits via frozen scree slopes on Travers side.

Scene II

Upper Travers Hut


Light is provided by three candles, one green. Tea is ready quite rapidly. Discussion is centred round the green candle, which, it is maintained (again by Your's Truly) ' has been on every trip for a year; and is still going strong'. General disbelief turns to general mirth when green candle disintegrates to a pool of green wax on the floor,

page 6

The owl and one trampette decides that it is an ideal time for a moonlight swim-cum-shampoo and exits through the door to river. Another tramper attempts to shave using a blunt razor in the light of a candle but gives up in disgust with a cut chin.

Another display of double-bunking occurs, this time at an even greater height from the floor.

Act Six

Scene I

15 May

Lake Head Hut


Enter first tramper just as dusk falls to find that hut has only 5 bunks. After the usual stew addresses are swapped and the sleeping arrangements are finalized. Partners are selected for the double bunking and climbing rope is used as additional support. The hammock is strung up but strange tearing sounds are heard when it is initially occupied.

Act Seven

Scene I

16 May

St.Arnaud Store


Enter ravagingly hungry and thirsty trampers who eat fruit chocolate, pies and drinks at a great pace.

The party then separates into those who can hitch hike and those who can't, who exit via State Highway 63 in a taxi.


John Penherton A.U.T.C. Leader

Paul Genet C.U.T.C.

Avrum Leine O.U.T.C.

David Cook, Phil Laton, Jim Gibbons, Kathy Baxter, Linda Dyett, Jenny Reddish V.U.W.T.C.