Thursday, January 1, 2009

Popping down to see Pennys grandparents.

Just popped from my folks to Pennys grandparents the other day. Not quite just around the corner, but down the coast and over the hill. The coast was as beautiful as ever and I was eyeing up the tops for a couple of draft missions we have planned for later in the summer. Rata was drooping over the sea and as we headed up the Haast Mt Hooker sat like a Lion glinting in the sun.

The Haast highway is very special to me. It is where I learnt to drive when I volunteered with DOC through many of my school holidays. Clinton's school of hard knocks. I still have the old "Roaring Billy" sign we replaced one summer. If we had a wall it would be hanging on it. I remember the steep fast climb to the Mt Brewster Bivvy, the endless walking along the highway to and from road ends and making rubbish bins!

Further off the road I remember the weeks spent up the Siberia with "Mick". I think his real name was Rob. Track cutting and walking with a rifle; Lake Crucible, Gillespie Pass and the Upper Siberia. We flew in by plane with Paul Cooper from Makarora and at that time there were still cattle up there prone to sitting on the runway. We caught a ride in the Iriquois to drop coal once; Kieran Forks, Top Forks, Siberia what a way to see the country! Later John Capon and I took the straight route to Siberia Hut from Makarora bashing up the small stream from the Makarora river and edging down the steep slopes and creek that falls directly onto the hut. We returned via the Wilkin and had to pay the farmer to ferry us across a flooded river by jet boat.

Later still I remember a great mission with Aaron Prince from Makarora Hut to Cameron Hut (this is the other side of the road). A bit of tops travel followed by hours of fast exciting boulder hopping down a rugged gorge before ascending to Cameron Hut. And then there was the Brown St Flat trip to the Wills Hut, followed by goon bags on Neils Beach. This time, Penny and I expected at her grandparents for tea, made do with a quick dip in the blue pools.

We made it in time for dinner and it was great to see the rest of Pennys family and particularly Elsie and Stan, still looking good in their nineties!

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