The Supersonic Chicken

Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
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Trip End Ongoing


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Friday, June 23, 2006

When I cast my mind back over the many months that precede us and sift loosely among the abundant adventure-packed times that New Zealand has provided so far, it really is surprising just how many firsts have been enjoyed here: scuba diving, bungy jumping, sea-kayaking, jet-boating, horse riding, skydiving. Even the rare and timeless encounters with nature - sharing beaches with families of seals, up close and personal with whales, swimming with dolphins in their backyard, the painful and testing perserverence through dense native bush, sitting on ocean floors, the hunt for food, the reaching of summits. Things that can have such an impact yet can so easily slip back into those quiet recesses of the mind.

Until now. And it is with great pleasure that I find myself once again scrawling another new adventure on to the foot of the 'remember when...' list. See, these last couple of days have been spent (in true New Zealand fashion) with wide eyes and a pounding heart, something that this magical land seems to impose on you so effortlessly well, and with the most impeccable precision.

Initially, we (the Chicken and me) had to spend some time familiarising ourselves with a mind-boggling array of technical ski gear and accessories, but over the course of a few days we took the plunge and came away with something half decent to suit our curious and proportionless frames. Then it was time. With a nervous grin and the staccato of deep drawn breath we made it atop Coronet Peak and threw ourselves into a new adrenaline rush.....we hit the slopes baby!

And I really have to say here that we didn't do all that bad. Chike did better than me. She took to it like a duck to water, or should I say like a Chicken to er...snow? Two 'crash course' lessons and a few panic-stricken zig zags from the trusty magic-carpet and we were ready for the biggy: our first chairlift to the top of the green run, commonly known as The Big Easy - a steep and sobering challenge for any beginner on his/her first day. But we were fine. We were confident. Even if sightly ill-prepared. We were buzzing and we went for it. It was great - really accelerated the learning process...

...I'd stopped momentarily to compose myself and to see if I could see Chicken anywhere nearby. I'd only started to turn my head slightly when she came swishing past my left hand side. Though a little startled, I was well impressed. She really did look the part, and the sound that she made as she shot past was really cool. She sort of went '.....ffft!' as she cut through the air like a little bullet. She was absolutely flying and I stood silently in awe watching (with a touch of envy I will admit) as she elegantly rocketed towards the long sweeping bend and the impending 'steep section' beyond. She flew down that mountain with the best of 'em and I stood tall in admiration, proud of my friend. It was only in the blink of an eye that my envy quickly dispersed as a small fact quietly sprung to mind. It wasn't that we didn't really know how to turn or change our general direction, it was that we didn't have the feintest idea how to stop. Neither of us. We didn't have any any real control over what we were doing up there. At all.

It was a perverse kind of curiosity which took my attention and had me look ahead as she darted around the bend and down, swiftly out of sight and in to the depths of the steep section. Even an idiot could tell you that things would be much more serious down there. I started laughing from deep within - a hearty, bellowing menace of a laugh, one that would eventually secure my own demise the following day.



After blissfully devouring a hefty full English at Brazz the next morning we were back up there - mad-keen - this time accompanied by an eager Lyn-Marie who also fancied a day on the downhill. Chicken was appropriately wounded, artfully bruised and battered from her ingenious 'last-and-only-chance' braking method of yesterday but with a fighting spirit that would put many in the poultry world to shame. The drop in temperature that came around midday however was quite sobering and it wasn't long before we were wrapped in a whiteout - a little off-putting really knowing what was beyond 'Chicken's bend'.

In hindsight, it was written. This was the day that I rightfully received what was coming to me. Karma had its way in a precise and timely manner and I was made a proper example of. The laughter that bellowed around the slopes of yesterday reflected straight back at me as I lay with my face pressed in to the snow groaning like an agitated bison. It wouldn't have been all that bad if I'd have been motoring, but I wasn't. I was chugging along at a joggers pace when it happened. I didn't even crash properly, I crashed pathetically. And I kind of fell funny, with a weird, unnatural twist that did something very unwelcome to my ribs. It hurt. Really hurt.

The joys of the learning curve!
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