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Searching for Steam: An Extreme Ironing adventure in a Geothermal Paradise

Updated: Nov 14, 2021

Date: 15-16.12.19

Location: Tarawera Trail, Lake Tarawera, Tarawera, Bay of Plenty, North Island, Aotearoa New Zealand, Australasia, Southern Hemisphere, Sol 3, The Solar System, Orion Arm, Milky Way Galaxy, Virgo Supercluster, Observable Universe, Universe, Potential Multiverse.

Trip Leader: Andrew Battley

Participants: Ngaire Metcalf, Amelia Verrall, Henry Merton, Harry Duncan, Madeleine Marnoch, Mingyang Li

One of the greatest challenges for any tramper is the issue of their clothing becoming creased. Tramping is of course an active activity, with the whole movement component of it and everything. With all of the walking, climbing and pack carrying, one’s clothes will inevitably end up crumpled, messy and dirty.

Many may not see this as a problem, but they aren’t asking themselves the most important questions: “What if there’s an impromptu job interview while I’m tramping?” “What if two members of our party want a sudden marriage and we need to hold a wedding?” or most critically, “How can I tramp at my best when I don’t have simple respect for my tramping attire?”

This is where the sport of Extreme Ironing comes in: By combining the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt, one reaches their absolute peak.

While many Extreme ironists have taken the sport to all sorts of heights, but over the decades, most have been stymied by the challenge of heating the iron. There is an unfortunate dearth of power sockets in wilderness areas, leading to a resurgence in the use of classic cast-iron irons such as AUTC’s own Old Rusty. To solve this issue, a group of brave trampers decided to venture into the geothermal wilderness of Tarawera, having heard rumours of natural hot water and steam sources that they could use to steam and iron their poor crumpled clothing…

And thus, we find a group of seven trampers standing over Suzy Mk. 2 the ironing board in a large gravel carpark, AUTC flag flying proudly, Old Rusty in pride of place, absolutely confusing everyone else around. In other words, a perfect scenario. In addition to these most vital components, we were accompanied by our friend Basil, who naturally was a Coriander Plant.

With all the vital members present, Suzy under a quickly stretching arm, Basil held aloft, and Old Rusty swinging from someone’s pack, the party set off. Immediately, the track plunged into rejuvenating native bush, making young Basil feel right at home in the greenery. Traversing along a well-formed trail, the party of ten (two inanimate, one a plant) heard waterfalls crashing against distant cliffs, birds fluttering through the canopy, and the occasional boat zipping across the approaching lake. (To be clear, the trampers were approaching the lake, the lake was not approaching the trampers)

After a long day of everyone’s clothes becoming immensely creased, crumpled and grubby, the brave adventurers were mounting the last hill when they were accosted by a stranger… “Hey!” He exclaimed – “You guys are into Extreme Ironing too!” – yes, it was true, the party had come across an ironist like themselves. Clearly, they had to be close to a source of steam. Spurred on by this chance encounter, they flew down the other side of the hill to a beautiful sight: The promised steam was even steamier than advertised.

Within minutes Old Rusty had heated up in a steaming stream, and the well-attired bunch plunged into the lake to finally iron the creases from their shirts, and consume their welldeserved beverages and hors d’oeurves. There were also ducks. And frogs. It was good. Their quest complete, the ironists rested, knowing the next day could only bring more creases.


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