By Zoë Marshall-Means
“You can froth the road, but only 12 seconds in front of you”, in hindsight, Max is quite wise. These really are words to live by. Not that I blame him, Lewis Pass is a froth-able road. We had a big-mish planned. 10 people, first week of the holidays, ice axes, crampons, it was gonna be a good one. We were up disgustingly early, and on the road to Nelson Lakes. Bangers were bangin’, I got the front seat so I wasn’t trying not to vomit the whole way, a good roadie, really good stuff. Max started looking at the mountains, as you do, talking about how good the road was, how froth-able… Our mate Connor was in front, his Honda CRV stopped at a one-way bridge to let a truck pass, I looked at the road, I yelled, I covered my head, Max braked, but it was too late. His glorious Subaru Legacy, the result of an impulse-purchase off some German backpackers the day before lockdown, demonstrated the extent of its crumple zone for us that cold morning near the summit of Lewis Pass.
How good are seat belts though? Without that bad boy, I don’t wanna think what would’ve happened. Max had his authentic, 1996 airbag, I had whiplash. These truck drivers just did everything for us, swept the road, got our cars off it, I honestly don’t know how long we would’ve stood there shaking if they hadn’t done it all for us… Once we’d calmed down, we got the tunes going and had a doof on the roof of Max’s car. Both cars were written off, the tramp was off, so tunes on a car.
Eventually Max and I hitched into Springs Junction, called insurance (on my phone, Max had left his up Mt Hutt the day before), got a tow sorted for both, then used Georgia as bait to get everyone a ride back to Christchurch.
Max and I were the last to hitch, and a van pulled over instantly. This guy was something. It’s probably a good thing I was struggling to keep my eyes open, his driving was pretty terrifying, his yarns even more so, from having a literal giant for a son, to a multi-millionaire ex-wife, not to mention the memory loss from a prolonged coma. The guy with the weird-smelling van was one I was happy to let Max handle. He did, however, drop us directly at Luke’s place on our miraculously safe return to Christchurch.
The group was still in good spirits, and still keen for a tramp, however I had been repeatedly told by Mac (an actual adult) that I had a concussion and shouldn’t run off on a tramp, and Marina had the lap-belt in the crash, and weird things happening in her abdomen, so she and I (and Hovey and Max because they’re lovely) ended up not tramping (although Georgia’s account of Jumble Tops sounds epic), and instead being told that I did in fact have a concussion, and wasn’t allowed to do any intense exercise for three weeks (lol). I spent the next five days sleeping, and it was actually pretty great, except that I wasn’t tramping, I was stuck in bed.
Overall, I’m now mildly scared of Lewis Pass, Max has no car, and my 2020 injury tally is definitely better than yours. But hey, no one died so it’s chill. They sure were some pretty mountains.