Day 15: Waterproof
challenge is to make a waterproof tent and stay up near gold bearing rock
to dig some out of the quartz reef. I can see that this is going to be
painful for many reasons. For a start it is Liz's birthday and I'm
stuck half way around the world from her. It will be freezing up there
but most importantly Mikey and I are terribly hungover after watching
a local band in the village pub the previous night. In the event, we arrived
back at 3 am after walking the 2 km from the pub, naked in celebration
of the New Zealand National Nude Day.
Again the morning
is very cold, even at the sawmill. The challenge isn't a total surprise
this time because we had already been up to the mountains and knew that
we would be doing something based there. Getting the quartz will be time
consuming, but the preparations for the trip will take two full days,
so we will have little time to do our ‘mining'. We are expected
to camp up in the mountains, but with a little homemade tent that is made
out of cotton sheet and waterproofed by ourselves. After seeing the place
at which we are expected to camp, I am worried. The frost doesn't
clear from the grass up there at all. It is almost like ‘permafrost',
so whether it rains or not we will be cold.
waterproofs we plan to use are based on oils or waxes, which don't
mix with water. Our shortlist includes beeswax, lanolin (from sheep's
wool), the jelly from inside flax leaves and two fractions of liquid from
a destructive distillation of coal (coal tar). In theory at least they
should all work, but all are labour intensive, especially for Mike. In
the process of making the ‘waterproof' sheets Mike and I trip
over, scald our hands, accidentally set fire to one of the sheets and
burn holes in the aluminium teapots that we use to heat up the coal. NIGHTMARE!
We work on. Tucky, a local helicopter pilot buzzes the sawmill. A pigeon
with weirdly noisy wings follows suit. Mikey and I are behind schedule
so we work until late. I was glad to get back to the huts. Thanks to the
previous night's nude walk everyone in town seems to recognise us.