I’m on Great Barrier Island. It is a bastion of untainted old timey wilderness at the end of the world.
I have come from urban Sacramento- California. Living on the fat lined artery of the Swarzeneger fueled heart of the sixth biggest economy on the planet.
Fat of the land. Eating the fat. Becoming the Fat. Six long years of urban blob out.
I was soiled from the taint. I once felt so strong as to liken my body to have been carved out of wood. I was now made of cookie dough. And not wholesome organic cookie dough either, but the nasty cheap chocolate chip filled stuff that you squeeze directly into your mouth while beached on the couch in front of Jerry Springer.
But now I’m here and I’m working myself over.
Punishment for blobbing.
A week of fishing and carting concrete and bricks about as well as diving and the occasional mini jog down to the wharf readied me for the big mission.
To the top of the nearest but biggest mountain and harsh it out through the night.
Well I got to the top of the mountain. I didn’t get to do the things that people do at the top of mountains – but she came with a view.
Yesterday I packed my swag, which consisted of a Moro bar, a bottle of water, a thermos of Tibetan tea ( genus Camels Breath), two thick vegemite, cheese and onion sandwiches, two carrots, three bananas, a bottle of Moteiths stout beer, and an apple.
I had my hammock tent to sleep in and a little grey blanket for warmth. As it is summer I thought I wouldn’t need much.
The utter purpose of the journey was to fully blow away any parts of the American blobness that had infiltrated me while I was living in the states on my couch or sitting hunched and dribbling over a bucket of clams and calamari rings, in a fake leather clad booth at Red Blobster; and give me back the long and near forgotten feeling that I am a true wilderness warrior.
In a moment of past hard man bravado I had made the grandiose claim that I was forged in the fires of Australia’s blistering outback sun and tempered in the 14 foot snow drifts of northern Ontario.
I had to live up to my own self created reputation. I had to walk the walk and use my ass to cash the check that my mouth had written.
The warrior is within. The spirit controls the body. I don’t care how high that mountain is or how brutal the trip, I shall drive myself up there bleeding and screaming.
And so I set out in the early afternoon along the gravel road to the farm that I had to cross to get to the track.
Immediately I regretted packing too much stuff. I was so weak. My muscles head suffered deep atrophy in my two year USA Blob fest. I was near exhausted before I got to the bush. Staggering through the overgrown fields I saw a big brown cow lying in the grass and it gave me a glance from 10 feet away. It had big wicked horns and it knew it could take care of me if I suddenly saw red and charged.
I climbed over a style and entered the native forest – hoofing it up the trail with self manufactured gusto.
The rugged path wound through and up the ridge of the mountain- a good 45 degrees in some parts and actually downhill in others.
All the old friends were there- Rimu, Rata, grabby Bush lawyer, Pohutakawa and many stands of small iron wooded Kauri, I counted ten in one cluster, and pounded upon their rock like trunks… “Back to nature” I mouthed.
I didn’t hug it though. I just felt I didn’t know them well enough.
After about half an hour of trying to just blaze up the trail hard core bush man style I was so sweating and burned out I was starting to fall over and my eyes were beginning to sting. I had to rest but that would go against everything I had told others was the true way.
So I got into a good head down knees up drunken pirate stagger. When the dry red dirt skidded out from under my stinging bare and dough soft feet I would try to turn the fall into a forward motion and come bursting up.
When it was really hard to breath and my lungs were burning I would focus on things… a tree, a leaf, a stone, the shrill cry of some endangered bird on this island sanctuary.
About half way up and an hour and a half after I had begun, my legs gave out utterly and I lay there spinning with a strange dusty taste in my mouth and feet that throbbed from harsh rock and stick jabs. I wasn’t actually bleeding yet. But I had achieved my goal. I had gone till the body gave up and fell down.
I was the master again.
I picked it up and made it mission up the path again and it didn’t like that.
But I’m the fuckin boss and it will now do everything I say.
So I now had my second wind and was blazing up the trail. The body had given up trying to fall over and I almost skipped light headedly along with only two calm little rests for the rest of the way. Almost three hours after I began I finally emerged at the top of the mountain. There was no lookout – nothing but a burned out half rotted old trig station – obsolete- with the advent of handheld Global positioning systems and Google Earth.
I had found a piece of obsidian and with this Stone Age tool gouged my moniker THE WEZ into the side of the trig station to rest there with all the names of people who will probably never came back.
I missioned out to the high rock which over looked the harbor and the valley on one side and the islands, sunset and open sea on the other.
I used my Stone Age tool to open my Monteiths and while peeling back this malty beverage I reveled in the majesty of the vista. The healing had begun.
I gazed out over the slopes and watched the native birds chase each other and shriek. I finished my beverage and tried to think deep and ponderous thoughts. The result of this was realizing that I had figured everything that needed figuring out long ago and knowing that, I had the power to figure out anything that came up. I turned to the book I had lugged up and tried to made to most of the dying light having purposely forgotten my flashlight so I could squeeze a little bit more roughing it into my hard man bush mish.
I set up the hammock tent before the light fully died and then went back to the rock to crouch and slap at mosquitoes until darkness engulfed the land and the stars came out. I stared at them for a bit and listened to the night calls of the Moreporks.
Getting slightly scared of the darkness and freaky fully alone in the bushness, and cold from the wind that had sprang up, I cocooned myself into my hammock tent- for erroneously conceived safety.
That’s when things got really bad.
The wind picked up and began to howl through the mesh- freezing me. Rolled into a ball and wrapped in the scratchy wool blankey did not help to warm me. Worse- the blankey was SO dusty and spore covered that my eyes stared to burn and I began a series of sometimes eight sneezes in a row. As well as brutal coughing. My throat began to really hurt so bad that when I sneezed it was like a small glass filled grenade going off at the back of my throat. I started to dread the sneezes. I would hold my breath for long periods of time hoping to just black out and sink into unconsciousness. Merciful darkness would not embrace me. More coughing and sneezing. I shivered in tears streaming breath holding misery- forgetting entirely the purpose of the harden myself up Bush mountain mission and wishing only for a shower and a soft warm bed.
I was surely getting sicker by the moment and was getting a brutal cold that was going to leave me stuffed up, weak and head achy for days.
I also desperately had to take a piss.
I had been in my hammock tent for only 15 minutes.
It was pitch black and wasn’t going to be light for a long time yet.
I crawled out of the hammock tent in the darkness, groped along the path and relived myself.
I had stopped coughing and sneezing and now that I wasn’t lying down in a miserable ball I wasn’t cold. I thought I would creep along the path like an animal and crouch on the rock again. There like a half crazed wild man I would gaze down upon the humans a mile below in their comfortable warm man-dens and snort in animalistic derision. I decided to walk along no longer feeling my way- but instead sneaking in the dark like an wild beast, using only my powerful animal senses.
I slipped down the rock that I was supposed to crouch pensively at the end of and for lack of better words Totally Ate Shit down the side of it. I screamed a little cowardly womans scream as I fell because I had seen the sharp stick filled abyss and knew that if I went fully over the bank I would be crawling back bleeding and screaming at best. Impaled and twitching at worst.
I managed to slam into the little grassy ledge at the bottom of the rock and grab on. I only bruised and scraped my self a little- taking a bit of skin off my knees and palms. But as I was filled with terror and pumping with adrenalin I free climbed up the rock to the top and perched.
There, with my brain baking in its own primeval self created drugs, I gazed down upon the humans a mile below in their comfortable warm man-dens and not unlike a half crazed wild man snorted in animalistic derision.
I looked out at the stars, at the boat lights on the secluded bay, I listened to the wind and the noises of the bush and I went within myself to my cave and found my power animal.
All I needed to do in order to find the warrior was to fall down a bank in total darkness, get scraped up and have a small one second look at my own possible death.
It started to rain on me; I headed back to the Hammock tent and drew the waterproof fly over it before crawling in through the hole at the bottom. I found I could keep the respiratory distress to a minimum if I lay facedown, breathing through the Velcro lined hole in the bottom. The mosquitoes made a pin cushion of my face but I could sort of sleep.
I was woken; the moon streamed its bright but eerie light down through the trees. There was a heavy crashing going on, it sounded like the Blair Witch and If I had seen the branches form into anything resembling a weird macramé of pure evil I would have started screaming and never stopped.
I was scared again.
The crashing continued and I heard a snuff chuuf snoof. Just a pig? I’m safe… or am I? … Is it after the food in my bag? Shouldn’t my sweaty pissy bush wipe stench scare it away? I wasn’t going to risk it and hauled my bag into the hammock tent with me- setting another big cloud of dust and spores off.
Now with my face pressed against the open entrance hole of my hammock tent I could hear slow crashing about 15 paces ahead of me, just creeping along off the path. It no longer sounded like a pig at all but was defiantly a freaky Blair Witchy, Angry female Maori spirit, hairy faced, Alien eyed Sasquatch with six erect black animal teats running down its hairy chest. Soon it would just appear in the moonlight with its face upraised and looking at me. I would be too scared to scream and would just lie there paralyzed and weeing my pants. In the morning the search party would find nothing but a little bundle of sticks bound with a strip of my shirt. Inside the little bundle of sticks would be a small number of my bloody freshly pulled teeth.
The crashing moved on, I unclenched my buttocks and eventually blacked out for a bit.
I would wake now and always with the same insane thought going round in my head.
CARGO CULT. Pacific islanders on remote islands seeing planes and ships for the first time. Worshiping these planes and big cargo ships. Making wooden sculptures of these strange cargo carrying gods. I don’t know- but images of this shit began kicking me in the head. Visions of dark-skinned dudes leaping up and down on beaches and pointing and gibbering at planes. Why was this?
I have no idea but I hated it and as soon as it got light enough to see I crawled out of the hammock, went to my rock, ate a sandwich and then missioned back down the mountain.
The roots and slips didn’t bother me now.
Although my legs screamed I made the occasional little leap over the odd obstacle, and even jogged down some slopes. I was the boss again- now that I was a small mission away from a shower and a little mini black out on a nice smelling bed in the healing mosquito free daylight.
Now I’m belting this out on the laptop with a Jim Beam and Coke next to me, sitting at the breakfast bar of the Mansion batch on the waterfront. The sun is going down behind the mountain in the distance. The Crayfish and Snapper dinner is almost done. I am fully safe, slightly more of a man and getting ready to tuck in…
But if you go out onto the deck gaze across the river and up into the bush, with the right kind of ears you can hear the petrifying warble of the Blair Witchy, Angry female Maori spirit, hairy faced, Alien eyed Sasquatch, with six erect black animal teats running down its hairy chest; as it creeps through the scrub searching for lone wilderness missioners to terrify.