Friday, June 10, 2016

A Blast From the Past

Let's go back to the 1960s - 1968 to be exact (or as exact as my ageing memory allows!)
I was doing a lot of climbing and tramping back then - almost every second weekend.
By chance we met up with two other climbers - Ray Calder and Graham Boddy. Can't recall exactly where - either the CMC's Kennedy hut or the Alpine Club hut at Arthur's Pass. I think they asked to join my group on a winter traverse of Cassidy - B'limit and on to Temple. It was then or in the Waimakariri at probably Carrington hut. Whichever it was, I struck up a friendship with Ray and we climbed together for a briefish period throughout 1968-69.

Ray Calder at Carrington Hut
Ray Calder and Richard Plowright crossing the Waimakariri River
Around New Year 1968-69, Ray and I drove up to Arthurs Pass to embark on an ambitious traverse of Mt Philistine, Mt Rolleston, Mt Armstrong, and Carrington Peak - all in a 24 hour period. After a few hours sleep on the Otira Valley track we were on the summit of Mt Philistine at 0500 - a good start. Sadly half way along to Mt Rolleston the weather turned to shite and we had to withdraw. We were back at my trusty Morris Minor about noon on the Saturday. Neither of us particularly wanted to return to the city so I suggested to Ray that we drive to Ross on the West Coast to visit Chris, whose boyfriend had recently died from cancer, and see how she was faring. I knew her boyfriend, having treated him, gotten to know him well, and shared many a pint at the Valley Inn in Heathcote with him. He asked me to look after her after he'd died, so thought this would be a good start.
We didn't quite make it to Ross - a one way bridge just south of the Totara River had a bump a tad too much for my Morris which managed to stove the fan into the radiator. And so we walked the last few kilometres into Ross in our knickerbockers (my old school longs cut down by Mum) and long Norsewear socks and climbing boots. A great introduction to Chris's family!! The rest is history from the visit and the subject of maybe a future yarn. Soon after that I lost touch with Ray - work, developing relationship, marriage, family, and overseas - all got in the way.

........Until recently!!
Last year, as briefly described in a previous blog, I visited China  and Tibet on a photographic tour. I struck up a great friendship with a couple on the trip from Orari, just north of Temuka. God knows how the subject of Ray came up, but it turns out he and his wife were close friends with the Orari couple. Small world!!
And so, two weeks ago we drove the 150kms down to Orari for the weekend where we finally caught up with Ray and his wife Kath. A great catch up and reunion after an absence of nearly 48 years. The old black and white photos appeared and lots of stories told. Nothing had changed - well not much!!
A great evening over dinner. Thank you Heather and Alistair for making this happen. We were having so much fun that evening we completely forgot take any photographs.

And what about Graham Boddy? Ray had lost touch with him too. But by chance a few years ago, Chris and I were at a social dinner with our friends Doug and Rose (I used to tramp and kayak with Doug and Chris worked with Rose). Doug is the guy standing outside Greenlaw hut in a recent blog. Who should be there at this dinner but Graham, a good kayaking friend of theirs. He was asking about Ray too. Now I will soon be able to update him. Let's hope the next meeting will be less than 48 years!!

And whilst I was looking out the old photos I came across this old black and white image below.......

Stuart Hawker outside Barker Hut
Stuart Hawker was part of the group doing that tramping and climbing back in 1968. Here he is about 17 years old. Stuart is now an International Captain with Air NZ and in a few months will relinquish his left hand seat and start collecting his pension like the rest of us. My how time flies - not just 777s!!

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