I was in a hut recently with a group of Wilderness contributors. We’d arranged a tramp in the Tararuas and, due to some fairly bad weather, spent much of one afternoon inside Cattle Ridge Hut.
Boredom ensued, right?
Actually, no. Two of our companions, Shaun Barnett and David Barnes, began recalling tales of incredible adventure. Rivalries in polar exploration that I had never heard before and could have listened to all day (Barnes nearly won TV’s Mastermind by answering questions on the topic).
Unfortunately, I didn’t have much to add to the conversation. In my job, I get to read a lot. There are days where I do nothing but read and marvel at the amazing places the readers of this magazine get to, the trips they do and the adventures they have. They are not on the epic scale of the polar explorers, but every tramp is an adventure in some way.
And while I’ve read biographies of Scott, about Hillary’s expeditions and New Zealand’s backcountry huts, and much more, too, I struggle to retain the anecdotes that Barnett and Barnes so easily rattled off.
If only I could have steered the conversation to my area of expertise. Often, when I’m tramping, I wonder how good a location a particular hut or forest would be in the case of the apocalypse. And not just any apocalypse, my go-to end-of-world scenario is the one where zombies roam the earth. The classic zombie text is World War Z by Max Brooks.
New Zealand’s backcountry is the perfect place to escape to should the dead rise. Zombies, the slow-moving variety, are easy to dispatch and would struggle over uneven tracks. Our hut network would mean bands of survivors could find shelter in remote locations, far from danger.
World War Z is not your classic adventure novel, and not surprisingly didn’t make it onto the must-read list that our adventurers discuss in the story ‘Armchair adventure’ in this issue on p74. Scott, Amundsen and the like wouldn’t hold much store in my choice of reading material, either. They’re far more likely to go for Men Aspiring, Mountain Solitudes and The Spirit of the Hills. And having now learnt more about these books, thanks to those we profile for our feature, I probably would too.