T’was a bright and clear morning as the six members of the Easy trip set off around Lake Rotoiti on the start of their Easter trip. Enthusiasm was high and the smell of Dimp strong. After a solid and determined tramp for all of half an hour, we took our first rest stop where Michael, our leader, demonstrated his expertise at skimming stones. This skill he continued to enlarge at every available rest stop, to encompass skimming stones off broken water, trees and stony ground.
We continued our stroll and became a pleasant ‘smoko’ break a little further round (for the sandflies – who enjoyed us). Some members of the party also took a break lateron to become a smoko break for inquisitive robins which did not, however, particularly enjoy the texture of snowsealed laces. It was the first time many members of the party had been so close to birds ‘in the wild’.
Our lunch break took place at Lakehead Hut, where after a cup of tea an energetic game of Aerobie took place. The playground added considerable additional interest in the form of hidden stagnant ponds, long grass, and small boulders. As there were no injuries sustained afgter playing for half an hour, there was no alternative but to continue our tranp up the Travers Valley. The intrepid Easy trippers valiantly forded the icy-cold knee-deep river, some of us taking great care of our boots by removing them to hang around our necks.
We camped on a flat piece of land shortly before the turnoff to Angelus Hut, and were introduced to Michael’s culinary skills with sausage casserole and potatoes, followe by partially-inflated chocolate (?) sponge cake after its remodelling during transportation. Michael later practiced his pyrotechnic skills by building a huge campfire on the river beach, burning anything combustible that wasn’t securely fastened down. Simon offered an unusual chat-up line: “Dental floss, anyone?” and discussed the advantages of this approach on unsuspecting females in various different countries and languages. It clearly has potential as several other members of the party accepted the invitation.
Our tramp continued next day through pleasant beach forest up the Cascade track towards Angelus Hut. The information was relayed by downcoming trampers that “Hotel Angelus” had only 16 bunks and already around 20 people had been identified as wanting to stay at Angelus that night. Michael and Simon sped off to reserve rooms and the rest of us continued at our own pace. Angela had a penetrating experience with a wasp, and Mike’s knee started to give some trouble.
It was with much pleasure that the return of Michael and Simon, several hours later, was received. One had no pack and the other had an empty pack. They were able to lighten the loads of the remainder of the party, and encouraged us with tales of good rooms in the mansion, complete with Jacuzzi, at the top of the hill. With lighter loads, speedier progress was made. Michael again sped off and returned again to take up another pack.
A short excursion to locate a lost party member (who was not lost at all but asleep!) preceded Culinary Experience No 2 – macaroni cheese and orange instant sludge. (Eat your heart out, Alison Holst. We ate all your Alison’s Choice nuts and muesli and we used lots of your plastic bags, but your cookbook doesn’t have recipes like these!)
For those willing to venture out in the middle of the night, a near-full moon allowed beautiful reflections of the rock formations around the Jacuzzi (lake) and lit the way to the dunny through sparkling frost.
Sunday dawned bright and clear and Michael, Simon and Hazel set off for a side trip up Angelus before rejoining the rest of the Easys on the next leg of our tramp. The six of us scrambled down Speargrass Creek, paying lots of close attention to the rocks and scree but with little difficulty. Michael and Simon enjoyed (or endured) a glacial-temperature bath/swim in the creek (adding flavour to our later drinking supply) as soon as there was enough water. As the creek filled out, there were multiple stream crossings, completed by means of elaborate antics designed to keep dry boots on slippery rocks. Losers were delegated to assist those whose feet were still dry. Simon kept us alert by hiding easter eggs on tree stumps. At Speargrass Hut another game of Aerobie, in above-head grass on well-watered ground provided the opportunity to really wet one’s footware and to lure other trampers to do the same. The other trampers were highly entertained watching and listening to Culinary Experience No 3 – corned beef and potatoes, followed by rice pudding/custard, some of the ingredients which were still languishing at the Angelus Hotel, so were substituted for by rats in honey – sorry, rat-packs and honey. Some of the audience bravely sampled the pudding and pronounced it very edible.
On Monday we walked out uneventfully along a well-marked trail to the roadend where we met some of the fit members of the Medium party. The Easy party hijacked a passing landrover into St Arnaud and therefore had plenty of energy to hunt down that rare tramping delicacy, hot pies and chips, in preparation for the return home and possible ‘bumpy’ journey on the high-speed ferry.