Rather than sit on Dunedin or Christchurch and submit to this growing meanness,
it was time to take myself away.
Immediately life became sharper: decisions, independent action, excitement. I made my own way to the Mount Cook
... hat, gloves - tell me why, you there! Most body heat lost through head and hands, sir.
It's growing cold now. I reckon 6-8 degrees drop since the plain. I've come to the end of the boulders.
Now, above me, disappearing into the grey, the scree. I'm looking for the pole, the trail marker. It is the peculiarity
of scree that it all looks like could be a trail, a slope of tiny stones in all directions, natural
falls and depressions that look just like old footprints. I need the pole.
The mist lies piled on the slope , everywhere, forever. There is no pole.
With one simple decision I escaped the rut, and my life is my own, once more. The park is wonderful. The southern alps
reveal themselves in glory, glaciers and sharp young rock above alpine meadows, flowering now in their brief summer-time.
Rejoicing to be active, to be free, I set myself a gruelling challenge: three hikes, two low, one high, up into the snows
and steep mountain rock. How I love to be challenged again, in the mountains again after such a long slouch!
The mountain does not judge you. But it will test you.
I move forward with slow, wary steps. To my left is a fall line, a slight valley of loose rock. Any rocks
coming down from above will naturally flow into this in a sudden blast deadly to anyone caught there. The pole! I see it
in the darkness above me. Finally. I move towards
it, quick and confident.
And freeze. Something's wrong. I've have come right into the fall line, the danger zone. But
the pole, the trail. Motionless, I scan around from side to side, listening intently for rock movements above.
Another pole, off to my right, along the original ridge! That is the trail marker, and this other pole is a hazard warning.
The mists part for a moment, theatric, to show me the hazard. Directly up the slope, rocks have piled up over time: a new landslide
waiting to happen. Waiting for the word.
Hardly breathing, I move, soft, soft, feet balance perpendicular under my weight so they don't slip, back, back, and to the right.
I'm on the trail, now. I'm climbing, now. I'm above the hazard. I'm thrilled, ecstatic. Again the mountain
has asked me a question, and given an answer.