Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Away in the hills at last

At last I've got away into the hills.

Away at the crack of 8am Barry and I did the now familiar trip across the great gravelly plain of the Waimakariri. We met Mark in Springfield, left his car at Claire and Jim's house and continued on to a layby through a rickety gate next to the Taipo.

Griffin creek hut from the Remote Huts website; photo: Mark Buckley 2004
A short roadbash of a couple of km's and then up Harrington Creek for the 800m grunt up to the scrubline. The track was thin in places but that set the standard for the enire trip.

There's a drought going on right now on the West Coast, all weekend we crunched rata leaves underfoot. A curious sound for west Coast trips. Nearing the top we surprised ourselves by catching up to a couple also sweating their way up the hill. They seemed particularly interested in how far we were from the top.

Barry's GPS didn't seem to want to talk to more than one satellite, I have no time for the things myself. I go to the hills to rely on my skill and instinct, not to depend on the trappings of technology that pervade my life, my profession makes sure of that. I assured them they were nearly at the top, but strangely we never saw them again.

If you weren't paying attention it would be easy to miss the turn off to Griffin Creek, maybe they got waylaid on the tops. The turn off is right on the scrubline so a quick detour is in order to get a view from a nearby knob. Ah, the view down the Taramakau is grand. The ocean looks inviting as there's no water up here to drink, unless you count the scoty old water barrel at the turn off.

As we started down a karearea Falco novaeseelandiae silently assumed position on a dead spar above us. And then a plunge down to the cool clear sparkling Griffin creek. Water, the best beveridge of all.

Pohangina Pete takes a way better Whio photo than I ever could, so we were content to just sit and watch a pair of them glide through the rapids. A little further up the river and this time three whio hopped up on a rock and watched us. Five in one trip is not a bad talley at all.

"I thought" Mark said "that blue ducks were supposed to be rare. How come we see them every time we go tramping?"
"Ah that's because we go places that other people rarely visit" I replied.

Griffin Creek hut is an easy boulder hop upstream, a standard four bunk forest service hut that has been adopted, strangely, by hippies at some point recently. Dream catchers hang by the window, an inflatable kiwi (!) sits on the bench and various hippy musings fill the hut book.

Sadly the hut book is only a couple of years old, a victim of that curious DoC policy of removing old hut books from their home of origin. I believe that their own hut is the best archive af all. The last visitors were three months ago.

The new Titanium gas stove ran like a dream. It's a 9000 BTU flamethrower i got from Bryan Dudley and it's a doozy. Because of my gross lack of fitness (pathetically) attributable to selling houses and owning a small child, I've adopted a lightweight tramping regime to be able to get away with it. My base pack weight is down to about 4.5 kg, with a weekend worth of food that's still way below the 10kg+ I'd usually carry. And what a differance it makes! Shoes instead of boots, a daybag size instead of a large sac. Many breaks I wouldn't bother to take my pack off, it's weight seems insignificant.

Mark had a bottle of Brew Moon lager, chilled in the Creek it made a superb apertif before a big feed of pasta and an early night.

Up and away at the crack of 9 the next day, so much for going to Scotty's biv (my orginal intention) and back down the track to the turn off to Rocky Creek. Again a thin trail, but not to hard to follow all the same. We seemed to fairly skip down to Rocky Creek Hut, and then we lunched in the river bed just downstream. Follow the river down till multiple permolats on two trees signal the start of the track and then away and out to the Taipo again. Cross the Taipo and up to the car, easy.

Soon we're gliding along at 100km/h, effortlessly climbing the Otira gorge to Arthur's Pass for a ice cream.
After another perfect weekend in the hills, the smell of a hot day fills the air at springfield.
Lactic legs, a head full of green, birds and rushing water.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It was the Pope!

I mighta known! We (my wife and I) watched the SouthPark cartoon last night, and, as I expected, rumours of the rampant slaughter of Catholicism and women-kind were highly exaggerated.

Jesus and various other religious figures have appeared on the show before, only to be ridiculed completely. I don't recall such a fuss about those episodes.

As seems common nowdays, a lot of people have been making a fuss about something they have never seen. There's an irony about religious faith in there somewhere.

For a start, alcoholics would have far more reason to be "offended", especially Alcoholics Anonymous. It was a very funny piss-take of the whole "Hi I'm Fred, and I'm an alcoholic", the 12 steps thing, and convincing people they have a "disease" that can be cured.

For the benefit of those who didn't watch it, Stan's Dad is convinced by AA that he is an alcoholic, and hears that a statue of Mary has a stigmata - yep, that's right. The bleeding was a stigmata. And it was, quote, "from her arse" not from the front of the statue, which is where we expected to see it based on all the hype in the media. Stuff coming out of people's bottoms is a standard SouthPark joke, and yes it is juvenile, but if you don't like it, don't tune in.

Stan is not convinced his Dad is an alcoholic and tells him it is just a matter of willpower and all he needs to do is reduce his drinking a little. His Dad is brain-washed by the AA, and believing only a miracle will cure him, visits the statue and is blessed by a priest with the stigmata blood.

He is instantly cured, but it all turns to custard when the Pope arrives to check out the new miracle. He examines the arse blood and promptly declares, "Chicks don't bleed from the arse, it is menstrual blood, and therefore IS NOT A MIRACLE!" The fact it was still coming from the back of a statue escaped him.

So, it was a stigmata until the Pope declared it wasn't. And no-one thought it was menstrual blood, except him.

I mighta known!

Actually, what angers me the most about all this is Catholics making a fuss about something like this, when they should be out there helping the downtrodden and the poor, as Jesus told them to! If South Park was just ignored, as most people do, this would hardly have registered a glimer on the media rainbow. And yes I know one can't ignore everything supposedly bad or evil in the world, but SouthPark has pretty much had a full-on tilt at many things racial, sexual, and cultural in the world since it started, and the world would appear to be unharmed.

Most "church-going" Catholics I've met wouldn't know a poor person if they passed them in the street, but then most middle-class Catholics wouldn't be on that street. In my 41 years, I've only met a few who actually lived the message of Jesus, and show it through their actions, not their words. In fact, from my observations, most Christians do not get the message of Christ at all. If they did, there would be a whole lot less misery in the world.

One person told me recently that the Muslim cartoon thing has just raised the goal posts for every interest group now, and Catholics want their right to be offended too. Just what we need; another group of people out looking for a windmill to tilt at, instead of doing what their founding members would be doing if they were here - working to help the person in trouble next to them and improve the world for everyone.

What this all tells me is that the desire of Catholicism Inc. to control the way we think and express ourselves is really not a thing of the past century, and is only just beneath the rather thin skin of the Church.

I've got a message for all Catholics: stop being offended by stuff and go OUT THERE and HELP PEOPLE. That is the message of Christ.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cartoonists to be rounded up

Here's a link to the cartoon that has so upset the Muslim world:

Was not easy finding this; most people seem afraid to show it on their web site. Interesting that the web supposedly helps free speech, yet most people who would want to see this to a) find out if they should be offended, or b) find out what the fuss is about, would not be able to.

Does seem like a stupid thing to have done, but on the other hand, these seem pretty lame. Can't really see what the cartoonist thought they were doing.

'Course just doing a picture of Muhummad is apparently blasphemy, so there you go -- sufficient cause to start a world war most likely.

God I hate religion.