Sunday, 4 March 2007

Man alone with the elements

It was a bit of a hard slog in places, but I pulled through okay and my gammy arthritic joints were none the worse for wear. I should really go on annual leave more often actually, as there were two potential job offers on my mobile phone when I came back into signal range. More on that later though.

Yup, it was nice communing with Mother Earth and the mountain gods for a few days there, although it's done nothing to ease the ongoing sense of malaise when planted on my arse at the office work station. Just about completely lost my rag the previous Friday when I was asked to write some organisational notification about the Strategic Plan (yawn) that would "rock people's socks off". What fucking planet did that person come from, I hear you ask? None in this particular constellation that I know of.

But getting back to the good bits. Here I am perched at the top of Mt Cedric as I scrambled my way over to Lake Angelus, which you can see at my normal Flickr site. This comes not long after a fillibrator was nearly required upon breaking through the treeline following a 1200m ascent straight up an 80 degree slope. No fanning around with zigzag or switchback tracks or any other nonsense like that. This made up for the previous day spent on a reasonably leisurely 10-hour jaunt along a river valley from a place called Blue Lake at 1800m where I'd just about left my testicles behind as a result of a rash 3sec dip in the waters there.

As is always the case on these tramps, there was plenty of evidence of Czechs preceding me, as recorded in the 'intentions book' in each Department of Conservation hut that you stay at along the way. At Angelus Hut I performed my usual party trick of addressing the crowd of trampers in Czech and got talking with a couple from Svitavy. After the initial greetings, the woman exclaimed "You must be A..... from Wellington!" My reputation precedes me. Turns out it was the sister of a friend of the missus.

Which reminds me that I came across some other likely lads from CZ during the bus journey from Picton to St Arnaud (the base for hiking the Travers-Sabine circuit). Stopping off in Blenheim for more passengers, I noticed three guys smoking unusually heavily on the footpath by the bus stop. One had a big beer belly and was wearing a threadbare denim shirt, jeans and cheap jandals, another had really long hair, a Metallica muscle t-shirt and was wearing white socks with his jandals, while the third was extremely well-tanned, had very, very short cut-off denim shorts and was wearing white socks with his trainers. I thought that third guy had to be either very gay or very Czech, and sure enough when they piled onto the bus it was instantaneously "Ty vole" this and "Ty vole" that. They were obviously in the region to do some fruit picking, which is the refuge of the poorest tourists in this country, but they weren't on the bus long enough to strike up a conversation.

And what about those two potential job offers? Well, one is with the Department of ... and would require the highest level security clearance, so obviously I wouldn't get that. But the other one is the sort of thing I've been hanging out for since I arrived back here in 2002 - a 'Senior Operator' for the Ministry for the .... I'm scoobied if I know what it entails, but the interview's tomorrow nonetheless. Hold your thumbs for me and I'll report back on the outcome later.

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