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Heels 1973

Up The "Amazon"

page 16

Up The "Amazon"

There is, as some of you will know, a pleasant little stream in the northern Tararuas called Makaretu. It was rumoured that there was an easy trip up this stream to a certain point, then up a branch creek onto the ridge and out over a little bump named Spion Kop.

Now it came to pass that the chief guide of a certain tramping club had heard the rumours of this trip and so arranged for a party to visit this area.

All went as smoothly as normal on the day of departure with most people turning up on time and the brave little expedition drove north to the Ohau River and pipe bridge. Here the brave and indominable leader took his car with another person in another car, around to the planned point of exit and there left one car and came back in the other.

Meanwhile the rest of the group had started off up the Makaretu Stream, blissfully ignorant of what was to happen. Indeed if they had not been ignorant of the future, enthusiasm might not have been quite as great as it was.

Come lunch time the trip had again gained its leader and was going like clockwork with Mark Hinton still searching for something that moved to shoot at and several people wet from head to foot having been totally immersed in the river. However, they were all theoretically richer for it and so their spirits were not at all dampened. (What some people will do for money!)

The creek for the turnoff was found and Lauchie Duff went off up to check like any other true blue leader should while Frank Kolston, convinced we were all wrong, disappeared off around the next bend in the Makaretu in search of where he would like to turn off. Alas and alack he returned in time to join the main group as they followed their chief guide into the unknown.

An easy bush-bash followed a short climb up tne creek so that the group eventually ended up on top of the ridge in a small clear patch, in half light, surrounded by low bush with the odd tall tree here and there. At this point there was some deliberation as to which way to go. Some fool actually suggested going the correct way, but that was not to be. Lauchie was obviously trying to give us our money's worth and keep up the Vuwtc list of dubious trips, so we plunged off to the left in hot pursuit of our leader and soon found ourselves stumbling along in blackness up to our hair ends. A typical piece of conversation to be heard from that moment on is inserted below,

"Where the hell are we?"

"I dunno, just keep going."

"D'you think we'll aaargh, ouch, ooh heelp!...there's a drop there."

This carried on for quite some time till the party finally reached a stream and started moving down with three torches to guide the way for 15 people. Such was progress that night that the astounding distance of about one mile was actually covered in 5½ hours! This blinding speed was brought to a grinding halt by a waterfall which appeared bottomless and impassable and so the group found "a mighty bivouac site" and "slept" the page 17night in somewhat less than comfortable conditions. One brave lad had packed a sleeping bag and kindly lent it to some other member of the trip. But his generosity knew no bounds (or was it a mild form of cretinism!) and he gave his bushshirt to another shivering fool, thus effectively making himself a shivering fool when he could have been as warm as a chicken toastie from the Union Building, which isn't saying much I know, but it wasn't the warmest night to spend crouched in the bush above a stream.

The next morning dawned bright and clear and we set off again to conquer Spion Kop. This was duly done, and we all wandered down to the cars and off home.

Thanks a lot Lauchie for keeping it to 23½ hours so it can still be called a "day trip".

John Sullivan