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The Spike or Victoria University College Review, June 1927

Tramping Club

Tramping Club

Jog on, Jog on, the footpath way,
And merrily bent the stile-a;
The merry heart goes all the day,
Your sad heart tires in a mile-a.

For a young country, it is astonishing what a great amount of prejudice there exists against tramping. Not always openly expressed of course, but still existing in a half veiled fashion, welling up from underground pools occasionally and bubbling forth in significant nods, vague looks, insinuative tapping of the head and so forth. It is tacitly believed by many people that trampers are all mad, cracked, cranky, to go walking off the beaten track, when there are paved footpaths along which to amble, cheap picture houses to amuse, and speedy trams and trains to carry one swiftly from one place to another. Mad, absolutely mad; that's the first and the last word. And the tramper is at a disadvantage in defending himself. For how can he explain to anyone, or try to convey by use of such a poor instrument as language, the freedom, the beauty, and the peace of open spaces, or of bush clad hills? In what words can he describe the grandeur of snow-crowned Mount Arthur, the dark blue depths of the Diamond Lakes, tucked away 5,000 feet above the busy world? Or quiet reaches of the Whakatiki, drenched in the noon-day sun, or the glowing red of a dying campfire with the Hutt murmuring softly by? In a way, perhaps, it is better that he cannot describe such scenes, for they can only live in memory, keeping for him there "a sleep full of sweet dreams."

But now to more prosaic business. The club has several enjoyable tramps to its credit during the Long Vacation, and the practice of tramping through the long summer days is certainly commendable in our opinion. The Christmas trip to the Mount Arthur district, under the capable leadership of Mr. K. Griffin, was a most excellent success; the club, besides striking new ground, has now ascents of Mount Arthur and Mount Peel to its credit. Later on in the summer a party followed down the Whakatiki river, starting at its source just below Wainui Trig, and only leaving the river when it became impassably gorgy, about half a mile above the Hutt—a notable trip in more ways than one. To compensate for it. however, we spent a glorious week-end encamped on the Hutt River above Maymorn. Blackberries in super-abundance, sunshine likewise, much swimming, a fine camp fire, now hallow Maymorn for us. After this, and just before the session, a party went up the Narrow Neck, on to the ridge behind and down into the Wainui, where our leader proved an able victor over the caretaker after a wordy argument. Finally we ought to mention a trip to the Butterfly when it rained, hailed, and blew great guns all day—wet, very wet.

The session itself opened in gloom for us; since just before its commencement we were all shocked to hear of the death of E. L. (Sammy) Palmer through exposure and exhaustion on the slopes of Ben More, one of the highest peaks in Marlborough. We all miss Sammy's little eccentricities, his cheerfulness, his unfailing enthusiasms. Elsewhere we pay tribute to him.

Among the trips made this first term, we number Belmont Trig, where we lost our wandering Willie; Mt. Climie, which provided the paradox of the blind leading the blind, and finally finding the way—a great trip this; Fitzroy Bay, chiefly notable for welcome watermelon, and a magnificent, but somewhat smoky (at times) camp-fire; the great, and now historical Mangahao Easter trip. enjoyable in every respect save for misadventures to two of the party—the club's first trip to become the copyright of the Associated Press; Colonial Knob, remarkable for a cold day; Semple's Tunnel, remarkable for two brilliantly fine days, some slight argument with page 50 typical Orongorongo ruffians about the possession of a hut for the night, very little water in the Orongorongo itself, and a plethora of sausages—both cooked and uncooked; the Tararua trip which did not come off; and finally the Mount Hawkins trip yet to come off.

The Anzac Day week-end to the Wairongomai failed to eventuate chiefly because members of the club were out searching the Otaki River and environs for the two missing Tararua trampers. It was chiefly characterised, we understand, by water, water, water, and yet more water, a high mortality in boot heels, and a fair amount of forceful language. For one member of the search party, it will go down to glorious memory as the trip where one shaved not, nor washed, for five whole days. Apparently the old adage, every cloud has its silver lining, is proven true once more.

Altogether quite a memorable term.