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Heels 1973

I'll Buy You A Chocolate Fish If..

page 39

I'll Buy You A Chocolate Fish If...

This narrative concerns that massive expedition of 30 led into the "wilds" of Nelson Lakes by Mr. Lauchlan G. Duff, C.G. and in particular the 6 dreamers under his direct charge who called themselves 'the fitties'. Well if after qualifying involves leaving every morning after 9.00 a.m. and tramping 5½ hours on the average each day, then we qualified.

The trip began with our leader foolishly offering a chocolate fish to the first person to spot snow.

First night was spent at Lakehead sharing the hut with the 12 medium party members. After the evening meal, singing became the order of the night and "No more double bunking" was later proven to have much significance when the 19 of us tried to pit down for the night in the 6 bunk hut.

Sunday morning the 7 of us got away to an 'early' start - was it 9.15 a.m.? Up to John Tait and then the climb to Cupola Basin during which L.D. was heard to offer a chocolate fish to anyone who could sing the whole way to the hut. Fortunately the climb proved steep enough to quieten John S' efforts to earn this reward.

A very 'tidy' hut as our leader put it encouraged us to stay 2 nights in this cosy shelter. So the next day we scrambled around on Cupola before various aches and pains and other disabilities induced us to return to the warmth of the hut.

Tuesday, with weather clouding in saw plans for climbing Hopeless abandoned and after some effort to get our Leader to fulfil his promise to "cook breaky in the morning if you (Trev) do the custard and pudding tonight" we at last got away back down to John Tait up the Travers and over the saddle into the East Sabine in the footsteps of the mediums, thence down to Sabine Forks Hut, which to our great surprise and delight was not crawling with mediums, so that for the first time on the trip one had a bunk to oneself.

Tea at 9.00 a.m., pudding at 11.00 p.m., brew at midnight L.D. discovered a very pleasant expression to use and the one lady member of the party, tho' guess the others might dispute that there were any ladies on the trip - increased her vocabulary when the meaning of 'k'n oath was explained to her.

Wednesday and Trev and I the young lady rose bright at 8.30 a.m. to cook blue pog and green apples for breaky. Mind you more effort and ingenuity was required to cook this particular breaky than any other for we decided it was desirable that the others should not see their breaky before they were required to force the blue and green mixture down their gullets. John P somehow missed his throat and provided sustenance for Rod's pack instead.

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After breaky the 2 culprits (Trev and I) and their leader escaped the hut and made their way to Blue Lake encountering the medium party on their way. The trip was a little fast for taking in the beautiful scenery of the Upper Sabine properly but after 1½ hours lunch in Blue Lake a leisurely stroll back down to Forks Hut (not so leisurely for the young lady when she was left behind by the gentleman) enabled a much greater appreciation of the area to be enjoyed.

Next day the other 4 were planning to get away early down to Lake Rotoroa but Lauchie, Trev and I took it more leisurely finally getting going about 11.30 a.m. A gentle stroll took us down to some flats just above the lake where our party camped out or in tents and flies with the medium party.

The second to last day was brilliantly clear but a biting wind again foiled our pre 9.00 a.m. start. I don't recommend the 3,000 ft grind up to Cedric as the most desirable way to start the day, but it resulted in offers of chocolate fish all round. Once on the tops it was a snow plod (weary for some) round to Angelue Basin by mid afternoon.

Our fears of starving on virtually no tea on this our last night were quickly dispelled when pog, fresh veges, butter, marmlte, dehy meat and veg, curry powder, instant pudding etc.etc. were discovered in the hut.

Bowls was played on the frozen lake by some of the keener members on the last day. A very pleasant scenic plod along Robert Ridge finally saw the party in sight of St. Arnaud where we met the bus together with the rest of the 30. The St. Arnaud store was kept very busy as the various parties arrived out of the hills. Unfortunately it ran out of chocolate fish and our party had to make do with half a one each. 5.00 p.m. saw most of us happily settled in the Terminus Hotel with our greasies and beer while awaiting the 6.40 p.m. ferry to Wellington after a real grouse trip for all.

Postcript Trip reunion was held the next day at 68 Northland Road, a major feature was eating pancakes and other goodies - hardly surprising after our week in the hills.

Lauchie Duff John Sullivan
Tcevor Read Steven Williams
John Pilpott Erica Law
Rod Henderson