Monday, June 2, 2014

Annual westcoast trip - rock hunting

Monday, June 2, 2014
oldbearnews editor

           Every year for the past nine years - I have taken a  group of scouts across our Alps to the Westcoast.  We bunk down in a hall and do various activities that include a day hike.  The four main activites (which get rotated from year to year) include such things as knife making / Pounamu carving / Coal scuplting and digging for gold.

        This year - we went back to Hokitika, the jade capital for New Zealand.  We left Friday around 5 pm and drove in near darkness across the main alpine divide (Arthurs Pass) - I say near darkness - because we had brilliant blue sky during the day and at night we had star-lit roads. In fact - we usually stop at Arthurs pass and the night sky was just stunning - the milky way was - just milky!!  So wish I had taken my tripod.  Alas I was already carrying enough electronic gear.  Pretty soon it will out weigh the regular camping gear!! Anyhow - we arrived late and had fun getting the oven going for a late night pizza snack - seems a mouse ate through cables and shorted that out!!
Scouts brought the gear in and then it was time to set up the sleeping arrangements - Army style.  I started the row - then there was Brush followed by Squeek then Mr Schick and then - - hmmm never mind.

The  sleeping arrangements.  In the middle the tables to sit and eat and play and . . . ..  
 The hall now has two heat-pumps so it was quite warm - luxurious even!!  Only thing that was missing was a shower!!


This scout was ready for bed!  Guess he did look a bit less happy when woken up again at 6am with the, by now traditional, wakeup call / music, starting with a bugle call played from the PC!!
yess some traditions are worth keeping!!

There are cameras everywhere!! No escaping big brother!! I did notice however the "looking over glasses look"
when taking pictures - something I am starting to do myself!  Something about older age etc.    sighs
Next day - one patrol was of for a hike in the bush and did an outdoor cooking of soup and stuff while the other patrol was taken upriver by Dan ( a local Maori elder) and looked for green-stone - while the fabled Rodin patrol was able to select their design and start the carving of green-stone!  Picking and choosing can take longer then you would think!!  There are plenty of templates and design options and inevitable everyone makes and adjusts their own choice / design as they go along!!
Using a dremel drill with diamonds to carve and reduce and shape and hollow and . . . .   hey was that my thumb that just got a tickle up - urm - not this time!!
Until you end up with a simple teardrop or fishhook or Koru or . . . . . .
This particular teardrop turned out to be a teeny wee bit larger then anticipated - but is its weight worth in gold!!  The actual jade is/was sourced from near Jackson Bay / Haast region!! It has the classic moonshine effect!!  Now just need to polish it off then get a rope attached . . . . . .  then wear it for a while . . . . .
When it was time to get home and have lunch and thus leave the workshop empty, so that the other patrol could do their carving,  we found some wet shoes sitting outside in the sun drying off.  Seems the 'look in the river for NZ jade' activity  does mean you get your feet wet - not to mention your socks and trousers!!
Vinnie enjoying a bit of a break.  He lately always comes with us to the coast trips.  Brodie on the other hand is a teeny wee bit jealous as he has stayed at home for a number of years now  - and this has NUTHING to do with the fact that Brodie has always been camping when it rained!!
Suffice to say - this year, we had sunshine all the way - yet again!!  Vinnie certainly living up to his reputation!! 
At the end of the second day - every bit of carved pounamu was hung up.  There were some very creative designs!!
In case you are wondering - the papers' have the names of the owners written on,  as we seem to have forgetful youth amongst us  . . . .
A close up - but it was not great as the light was - well not great and so forth
I ended up using a camp-light and maneuvered that round while getting real close and NOT used the flash to take pics of each and every carved piece.  There are to many to show here so there is just a cross sample here.
The colors of the stones vary - they are not the usual green at all - some of them can look milky and semi white while there are others that have very deep dark lines.  
Some have specks and others - have not!!  As said before - my own personal preference are the stones that come from near Haast - there is something about that - but I digress

Here you can see a more intricate piece (belonging to Brush).  We did go back there the next day to finish this - so he has spent about 8 or 9 hours on this particular carving.  The extra time was  needed due to the complexity of the design (and cutting and polishing the wee holes curves etc)

We opened up the laptop and left a word file open for anyone to write what they felt about camp / food / things etc.  A full transcript can be found here --->
they got right into this!!
Well done everybody!!
On Sunday night we invited Steve and his wife along with Dan and Frazer to a meal.  This was a semi formal thing with speeches and so here they are being greeted.
The reply
ahhhhh - yes eventually we got to feeding the troops - chilly con-carne!!
There was even time to hang five and play the guitar - although judging by the expression of this scout - he was waiting for his dinner - or was that dessert???
Eventually we got round to doing what we had promised - part payment - was the price of a scarf - well I guess Dan is now a member of Gordon Scouts.  Turns out that he was a former Cup at Papanui - so not to far away from our own group!!
Then came what everyone had waited for - the formal presentation of the individual pounamu!!   I was tasked with taking a picture of everyone - and got that with the exception of one youth - just as the camera decided to have a wee hissy-fit!!  bummer
A personal moment for one of our youth!  There were some lovely touches and speeches and far to many photos to show here - or all of them!!
The next morning  - time to pack and come back home.
This rates as - hmmmm     "I was sure I packed my teddy in here"   - then again - am I still wearing it??  Nah - Chef - whatever it was (sanity) you where looking for - it was not in here . . . . . . . .
Ready to pack the van and almost time to come home
Just have to do a final clean up.  We always endeavor to leave the place in better shape then we found it in (that scouting ethos coming into play here) so we wash and mop and clean and - yeah!!
The trip home was again in sunshine along with some stunning fog-driven valley's and mountain ranges!
I gladly came home - there is nothing like your own bed to look forward to! :)  Another successful annual west-coast trip completed and some very happy campers delivered safe and sound back to their caregivers.  Well done to Chris who organized everything!!

(There are a whole lot more pictures here and of course on other peoples cameras and cellphones etc - hmmm wonder how we gonna chatch up with all of them)

Next year - Coal in and around Denniston for Gordon Scouts!!

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