Updated: Nov 14, 2021
Location: Castle Hill Station
Trip Leader: CUTC (Canterbury University Tramping Club)
Participants: Lots of them. AUTCers included a band of pirates in search of shrubbery, a school of fish friendly sharks, members of the T-Walk (1) and Roll hall of fame, a sizeable peoples’ republic, and various members spread about other teams.
Chapter One: IT’S A TRAP
As all good weekends do, it started with a mass-kidnapping. Perhaps in revenge for our having superior tramping clubs, CUTC (Canterbury University Tramping Club) abducted swathes of AUTC, OUTC and VUWTC representatives from a carpark on their campus. It appeared they also accidentally abducted some of their own members, but these things happen. You’d think someone would have noticed, given the odd garb worn by them all, but somehow this escaped the notice of everyone in the area. I call conspiracy.
Several hours of unexplained travel later, the hostages emerged blinking into the sunlight over Lake Lyndon, a spot famed for being the location of the second sinking of the Titanic. (The UC Motoring Society (Motosoc) may or may not have turned a car into the Titanic, and it may or may not have floated just as well as the first of its name) Naturally, terrified of being thrown into the lake, (around which a school of sharks had been spotted on arrival) everyone immediately fled up the nearest, steepest hill they could find.
In their typical foolishness, the kidnappers provided maps to their hostages, so the escape began.
Naturally, a combination of hypothermia and hysteria came quickly. Soon the oddly dressed bunch organised into motley crews, and started seeking out paper plates covered in unintelligible scrawls. The source of these plates was not entirely clear, though rumours of a mysterious pair named Matt and Gary were abundant, quick to spread, and quite frankly rather disturbingly pointed. As the day wore on, the escapees wore out. Soon the rapid speed at which they had ascended Castle Hill abated, and a steadier rate of travel won out. At this pace, the views were stunning, rather than an impressionist blur. However, this slower pace brought a new danger! High winds proved challenging for all, and a band of pirates were forced to deflate their palm tree in order to avoid being blown right back down the hill into the kidnappers’ hands.
Now safe from the dangers of flying palm trees, and aware that the local sharks had moved well on to easier pickings, the pirates were finally able to ride their unicorn (2) in peace across the snow spotted ridges of Castle Hill Station. After hours upon hours of following the ridgeline down, the pirates found something they were used to – WATER! Following this river in the hopes of finding an ocean to sail away upon, the pirates were instead greeted by wafting scents of muffins, pasta, and pies. Agreeing that this was a reasonable compromise, the pirates decided to settle in the barn from which these odours, and some relatively agreeable musical numbers propagated. On arrival, the pirates discovered that they had been preceded by many other hostages, and that, to paraphrase a great naval leader, the too good to be true mysterious music and food in the middle of nowhere was in fact a moment of subterfuge carried out by CUTC. (It was a trap) The pirates were then confined for an entire half hour, only allowed to rest, consume copious amounts of fantastic food and beverages, and learn more about the surrounding area from available maps. It was a hard time in their lives.
Chapter Two: Darkness brings out the best and worst
With energy levels restored, many of the hostages felt strong enough to escape several times more.
With each attempt, fewer and fewer were game, already exhausted from their prior adventures. With each venture out, more plates covered in mysterious clues were found, as the groups bonded over the shared puzzles. This naturally became harder and harder with the dying of the light (Which was raged against for this very reason), culminating in the realisation amongst many that they were out in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night. (Exactness of middles was not measured, due to the poor definition of the edges of both “nowhere” and the night. (Okay, sue me – they’re obviously “h” and “g” respectively))
Of course, the dark brought with it monsters. Matt and Gary really made themselves known at this time, springing from the shadows like a spring that has been compressed in a shadowy area and then released. On top of this, (A painful prospect) fellow ex-hostages of CUTC began to take on dangerous new personas, each becoming the “It suddenly got dark, all hope is lost, and I’d love that coffee I know they’re serving at the hash house” variants of themselves. It took strong drugs (Sugar) and acts of absolute stupidity to overcome these monsters, but eventually everyone settled into the fact that they had no other choice but to keep looking for paper plates in the all-encompassing inky darkness. (This seemed entirely logical at the time, don’t question it)
The night portion of this adventure is of course what everyone chose to be kidnapped for. Once the first barrier of the sun disappearing and probably never coming back was overcome, everyone settled into states of absolute insanity. In traditional Auckland University Tramping Cult fashion, surviving members of fallen teams of hostages were pledged into larger groups through chants and dances reminiscent of the sun dances of the Judd tribe. These groups marched on through the night to try to solve the mysteries of: “Where are we really, there’s clearly no Castle on that Hill?”, “Who are Matt and Gary?”, “Is the danger involved in a trip really proportional to the number of current/ previous safety officers in the party?” and the related “How much can we push AUTC’s acceptable loss rate without being pulled up on it?”
Unfortunately, answers were not to be, as the night decided to call it a night. With the restoration of light, the parties of lost trampers accidentally found themselves before they could find meaningful answers (3). Overcome by the hunger for hot food, they all forgot their existential quests, and charged to the hash house to prepare for the approaching winter by gorging themselves on the available food. Having accepted that they were captured for good, the hostages resolved themselves to climbing back on the buses, only to discover that they were being taken back to their original abduction point and released.
1. T-Walk is an annual 24 hour rogaine run by CUTC – the Canterbury University Tramping Club, into which teams of trampers from various university tramping clubs around the country enter every year. The beautiful locations, adventurous nature, dressing up, and absolutely incredible food make this a highlight of the university tramping club calendar.
2. The unicorn was later murdered by Matt and Gary. May it rest in pieces.
3. Many answers were found, most of them not at all meaningful. Those that may have had some meaning were deemed inappropriate for publication, like most things devised at 3am.