5 November 2022
A combined Masterton and South Wairarapa Tramping Club trip
Point 613 is somewhere near Mikimiki. Well, perhaps not altogether near
if you’ve spent three hours getting there. But, after navigational
uncertainty had cost us a quarter hour, we found the small eminence of
Point 613 an unexpected delight. From its open top of we looked down
on a forest canopy shaded and textured in green.
One tramper said, ‘Are those really the trees we walked among?’ For we
could now see none of the windfalls, logs and branches we’d clambered
over, or the tightly-woven bushes across the track (if it was a track,
which we doubted), or the bush lawyer, or the great root discs of wind-
felled trees where Tararua rock showed below a skin of stripped-off soil.
From above, the forest seemed truly a carpet of greenery, moulded and
shaped to the contour of the land.
And to the south, beyond other forested ridges like ours, rose tawny tops
that beckoned to adventure: Jumbo, Baldy and the Kings.
The moment could have been perfect.
However, doubts had begun seeping into some of our minds. Their
unspoken-ness made them more nagging, more inducive to unease,
than if they’d been voiced. Those doubts troubled us.
Earlier, at morning tea, we’d been full of expectancy and positivity, and
Mt Whakapapa had offered the likelihood of an easy stroll. But since
then tea we’d spent much time, effort and navigation in covering only a
third of the distance to our goal.
Such were the uncomfortable thoughts lodged in a corner of one or two
(or perhaps nine or ten) minds as we drank in the view from Point 613.
Meanwhile, Mt Whakapapa remained our stated objective and ten packs
remained on ten backs, ready to move on.
At the same time Point 613 (on which we now stood) was beginning to
seem to one or two (or perhaps nine or ten) of us a worthy objective in
its own right.
Furthermore, it was 12.15 p.m.
Should we stop, or should we continue?
Several new people were in the party. New, that is, to one or other of our
clubs but not to tramping. Some of the new people had already shown
themselves to be trampers of ability and experience. Was it perhaps
incumbent upon established club members (affiliated to the Federated
Mountain Clubs of New Zealand, no less) to demonstrate to these new
people the fitness, rigour and determination that makes trampers press
on until they achieve the declared purpose of the trip?
These silent concerns filled the air with an invisible miasma of
uncertainty and indecision. Even the highest-ranking tramper present,
the very President of SWTC, declined to make a pronouncement.
Then a voice—that of a new tramper—was heard to say, ‘lunch’.
A light southerly breeze carried the magic word to the ears of the Trip
Coordinator several metres away. However, he failed to catch the rest of
the sentence, or to capture the exact inflection imparted to the word by
the new tramper. Its import was therefore unclear to him.
Suppressing a note of hopefulness in his voice, the Trip Coordinator
asked, ‘Was that a question, or was it a statement?’
‘A statement’ came the reply.
The die was cast. Saved from ourselves, and from a long and possibly
scratchy walk to a hill with not nearly as good a view as the one we were
already on, we had a leisurely lunch and went home.
Charlotte, Ross Anderson, Nigel Boniface, Ed Cooke, Stuart Hammond,
Tracey Higgins, Alyn Higgins, Joanna London, Lorelei Olafson and John