monday, 20th, June, 2011.(night time)
I got the call that I was working tonight. I quickly ate some baked beans on toast and Sarah lovingly prepared my food. A hop and a skip and I was off. Andy was also working so he gave me a lift in. It was dark but not too cold, the sky was clear. We met Monty, Naya and Bree at the work shop and when all were there Naya drove us up the mountain in one of the buses. We arrived in the deserted base camp. We were all given head torches and radios.
The snow on the mountain looked like streaky clouds in the darkness, Ohakune far below looked like a glittering city of light, the name Ohakune meaning new world from the fact that when you come down the mountain and entre in its so different its like a different world.
Tonight we were being trained up for the diesil run. At the bottom of the Moven pick ski lift there is a diesel pump, we attach a large tank to the back of one of the lifts and fill it up with diesel and ride up with it to the top of the movenpick and dispence it in the huge container at the top. It is used to fuel the snow cats and digger, so they don’t have to come all the way down the mountain to refuel.
All that might have sounded pretty straight forward and in essence it is but there was so much to remember and all things which if not done would cause problems. First you have to click, twist and pump a myriad of buttons and nobs to start the lifts up, checking that all the lights are on, climbing up to the engine room and flicking switches. If you miss one it doesn’t turn on. you have to carry the heavy metal tank over to one of the lifts and attach it. open the tube on top, close the tube on the bottom, take out the bung, stick the diesel hose in and clamp it open then go to the diesel machine and turn it on. On top of this the diesel pump wasnt working properly so we couldn’t tell how much was going into the tanks, through a few errors were the diesel sprewed out of the overflowing tube we found out that it took about 4 minutes to fill one of the 250litre tanks up.
In the dark as we sent the diesel tanks up on the lift we would wait for the radio signal from the top of the lift and then stop it for the people up top to drain, then they would send the empty tanks back down again. We had to ferry up about 6000 leters of diesel during the night. It took all night, the weather grew colder as the night wore on, we took it in turns to ride up with the tanks, occassionaly the shadows from the lifts below caught me off guard and I jumped as I thought I saw a gliding spector below.
During the night shift sometimes the lifts just stop. This in its self isnt unusual as things cut out or break from time to time, what is spooky is that the lifts start up again on their own, this can only be done if someone turns them on manualy after a cut out. Naya said rather matter of factly ”yeah there are a couple of ghosts hanging around the highnoon lift sometimes playing with the controls”
When it was my turn to ride up with the diesel I put on all my gear as sitting still up high on a lift for 15 minutes can make you incredibly cold. The stars in the sky shone so bright as there was no other lights around to detract from them. The ground below in the dark looked deceptivly near. I arrived at the top of the movenpick with two tanks of diesel, calling in for the lift to be stoppped I got off on the slipy wooden base at the top. A large pipe coming out of the ground was used to drain the tanks of diesel. I forgot to close one of the switches when I took the pipe out and the diesel spewed out all over the deck. I cleaned it up with a rag but soon in the freezing weather it had turned to a slick silvery patch.
The wind was picking up and the only light was from my head torch. The only sound was the wind and I was along ontop of the mountain. I spent some time checking the large containers diesel levels with its massive dip stick, counting the ski lifts coming up waiting for the next tank to appear out of the darkness.
I thought about working at night, how you dont have all the interaction, noise and light of the day. Rubbing shoulders with others, the ever adaptive art of socializing with its excitment interest and its drudgery. When you have to share the earth with so many. Traveling in rush hour. The night is just the opposite.
The mountain became colder and the wind stronger and tiredness set in in the early hours of the morning, the suns pale light diluting the darkness, a tireness mixed with a chill burrowed into my bones.
Finaly we compleated our quota of diesel transport and we were able to drive back down the mountain in the morning, passing the day shift driving up. Sarah must have passed us by on her way up to work. Sarah had given me a text last night saying she didnt want to buy the car anymore, she didnt want to spend too much on petrol and she had done a ba gua prediction which said it would be a big mistake. I became furiously angry in my fragile sleep deprived state. I hadent slept in 24 hours and the idea of calling up the car ownerd and saying we didnt want the car after only yesterday saying I would pick it up was too much for me.
I thought about how Sarah had done the same thing with changing her mind in the caravans and I was the one who had to tell the land lord we were moving out, then after find accomadation with Mj I was also left with dealing with it all. A great resentment built up and I sent a venomus text telling her to call them herself if she didnt want it anymore.
Naya and Andy went to the mountain rocks bar after work for a beer. I didnt have any other way of getting home other than Andy so I felt like I had no other choice but to wait for him to finish his drink. They had two painfuly slow pints and I sat listening to the conversation, trying to keep my eyes open wondering what madness possessed them to still stay awake. I vowed that next time this happened I would hitch hike home.
Finaly we got back to Rangatau and I got into our room, somehow it was even colder than outside, I could see my breath in the air. I took a long shower and defrosted myself, I sat in the living room for half an hour in the sun light warming up and eating a big bowl of chicken drum sticks Sarah had made for me. I finaly went to bed and pulling the sheets right over my head fell asleep with a empty exhausted mind.