The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review, June 1929
"An optimist is a fool, since he can't see what awaits him—disillusionment."
Yet who can say that the tramper does not remain an optimist until the end, in spite of his frequent disillusionment? How many times have we inwardly (and sometimes outwardly) sworn that we would give up this tramping game once and for all, but does not the temporary disillusionment only add to our keenness? Perhaps the inference is that we are fools—but enough of this stupid philosophy—let us discuss our activities and recall happy memories.
Last Christmas a trip was again organised to Tongariro National Park, and the party of twelve thoroughly enjoyed a fortnight at the Waihohonu Hut, on the eastern side of the park. Ngauruhoe, Tongariro, and other places of interest were visited, but two attempts at Ruapehu proved of no avail. We even got up at 2 a.m. to take the old mountain unawares, but failed. Some blame the weather, but others are inclined to take the more moderate view that too many helpings of stew at 3 o'clock in the morning are not conducive to good climbing. During the bad weather, the bridge fiends of the party tormented the more restful members by playing until the small hours of the morning. And what of the games of cricket and rounders played on the "lawn" in front of the hut? They certainly put all Test records in the shade for fast scoring. We finished up with enough "ducks" to start a poultry farm. But quickly the time passed, and soon we were drifting back to civilisation and work.
A few trips in the long vacation included a Sunday tramp to Fitzroy Bay, where we found it necessary to define the boundaries of this locality to certain members. Then a record-breaking trip round Palliser Bay and back over the little Mukamuka enabled the four (male) members of the party to freely express righteous indignation at the nettles and other nuisances on the way.
Just before the commencement of the first term, a party of five made a week-end dash for the Tararuas. We arrived weary, but cheerful, at the Otaki Forks at midnight on the Friday night, and were away at 7 o'clock the next morning. The beautiful calm of the morning (this is not poetry) soon changed to a steady downpour of rain, but nothing daunted, we proceeded on—but Oh! by the time we reached Hector, what would we not have given for a glimpse of a cherry, warm fire. How we managed to scramble and fight our way through the wind, mist, and rain we do not know, but eventually we arrived safely at Alpha Hut, and two more had conquered the Tararuas for the first time—probably also the last time, unless the feeling wears off.
The syllabus of tramps for the year opened with a Sunday trip to Belmont Trig, when we failed to convince the people at the Woollen Mills that it was a tramper's privilege to go through the property.
Immediately afterwards came the Easter holidays, and a trip from the Otaki Forks tip to the Waiopehu Hut, and then down to Levin. The party of twelve thoroughly enjoyed themselves, even although we had to sleep in a creek one night. It seemed to be the unanimous opinion that Waiopehu Hut was the coldest spot on earth; certain members deemed it advisable to reinforce their calorific capacity with hourly drinks of hot cocoa, whilst others found that even the warmth of the fire could not cope with the coldness of the atmosphere. Those who were too lazy (or possibly, too cold) to move, had to be content to remain at absolute zero the whole night.page 71
A party of ten spent a pleasant week-end at Open Bay. Among the attractions for the Saturday afternoon were a swimming exhibition given by the ladies and an axe-throwing competition for the men. General regret was felt on the Sunday at the abundance of fish and the lack of any fishing gear. Those on the Raster trip will vouch that some of the fish could almost equal in size the elusive eel we tried to capture in the Otaki River.
Rain caused a postponement of the trip to Long Gully, but members made up for it by turning out in great numbers to the Mt. Matthews' trip. As usual, the weather played up on the Sunday, and eventually we decided that we were near enough to the top, and returned.
The tramp to Mt. Hawtry was also postponed on account of bad weather, but on the following Sunday we were rewarded with a glorious day for the trip to the Wainui Trig. Those who ventured on this new trip were well rewarded by finding that it was one of the best trips the Club has yet done.
On account of the Capping celebrations, the Reeves' trip was postponed, and in its place a week-end trip to Hutt Forks was substituted. Once again we were almost overwhelmed with the numbers attending—surely a sign that the Club is at last coming into its own. Those who indulged in a swim on the Sunday decided that there were other places just as cold as the Waiopehu Hut.
The second term commenced with the trip over Mt. Reeves on the King's Birthday week-end. In spite of attractions nearer home, a party of ten made the trip. We decided to break some new ground and go over the new tracks from the Tauherenikau to the Totara Flats. On reviewing this trip we have come to the following conclusions—opossum tracks can deceive even the most innocent trampers; the words "high ridge" on a map are meant to indicate something of the altitude of Mt. Cook; carrying a kerosene tin full of water up a track at 4 o'clock in the morning may provoke some bad language—but the ladies in the tent might have had a bad nightmare (who knows?); flashlight photos (and others) do not always show us off to the best advantage. However, we had a most enjoyable trip, and have decided to view Totara Flats at closer range later.
Apparently the trip advertised as Colonial Knob recalled painful memories to some of last year's trampers, and even inspired terror into new members, for the attendance on the trip was disappointing. But the weather was excellent, and those who made the trip had to rest and explore caves in order to fill in the time. (We know some people won't believe us. but our word is above suspicion.)
The trips for the remainder of the term should prove extremely interesting, as many of them are entirely new to most members of the Club. We would also take this opportunity of extending to students a hearty invitation to join up with the club and forget their cares and worries over the week-ends.