ON THE SLOPES OF NGAURUHOE- The 39th Wisdom of Godfrey

Was a Dr Uren, gave Godfrey a ride, across the Rangipo Desert’s volcanic plateau. He cautioned the young vagabond, mind how  you go, it’s no country for the foolish, this wild Tongariro..

  I’d asked Beatrice about the odd pumice stone, who for my feet at the end of a long hike gave me. Twas in Godfrey’s suitcase said she, from the slopes of far Ngauruhoe, sit back and I’ll tell you the story.

I felt fit and ready he wrote me, after months of tramping the steep and the muddy, getting sand in every crevice below, it was time I tramped the wild Tongariro.

To seek the lonely wisdom of the great wet volcano.. In the high mountain hut, enjoying sleep in my bunk, and despite the dirty dishes piled there, I awoke from the deep, warm fingers not my own, were gently stroking my hair. Thinking, who in here has gone mad?? I reached for my torch, all rabble broke loose, was a Possum had chewed her way in through the screen on the porch. (It was licking a pan of baked beans)

It caused a loud scene, 6 Swedish chaps in their underpants helped me chase poor Poss out the window again. When all was calm, I laid my head, among the scattered dishes and went back to bed.

Nose very cold on my pre-dawn trek out to the toilet. It was raining hard, but I longed for to tramp, and could not let the Possum, the dishes or sleepless night spoil it.

Deep into the park steep I climbed in wind driven, sideways rain. The track a trench of slippery stone, gullies awash over tussock clump, gold the snow grass, I painted my face with red volcanic mud.   My kilt was burgundy and fawn, the day light shifty mist and gray rain, soon it soaked through the warm layers I had on.

A shadow world hidden by the sky, my wet volcano.  And Dr Uren’s words of wisdom, “unforgiving this wild Tongariro”.

..In frozen tent at day break I woke, again desperate for a wee. Out in the frost I stood, the storm had passed, I stood in awe my friend, at the foot of Mt Nguruhoe, lost to the sunrise and her black cinder cone, silent she towered above me.

I had no desire, to climb any higher, wrote Godfrey. He wrote, in all honesty, I have never been soaked as wringing wet as I was on that track. All my gear I spread to dry on the rocks before, sadly heading back.

Usually, I take nothing free, there was naught I desired but the wonder Ngauruhoe gave me, with thanks for her blessing, and piece of pumice stone, as the rain began to fall, I set out a wiser, damp vagabond on my own.

Now oft when warm and dry, I watch the rain and go, drifting in dream to the wild Tongariro…down through the mud to my bunk in the hut, so exhausted was I, I sacked out ignoring the unwashed dishes piled nearby..awoke once again amid soup bowls and pans, to the feel in my hair of furry, wee hands.

..And the 39th wisdom of Godfrey states- In a crowded hut, wash your dishes with care, lest a Possum lick them clean and dry her paws in your hair. Not all Swedish climbers of great, high rocks, sleep in night shirts or wooly socks, in a crisis you may see their bare buttocks.. From Godfrey.


2 thoughts on “ON THE SLOPES OF NGAURUHOE- The 39th Wisdom of Godfrey

  1. Godfrey’s 39th wisdom in so very, very funny, Sheila; and, as someone who has climbed a few mountains, I thrilled to the line “naught I desired but the wonder Ngauruhoe gave me.”

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