Tom Luff wasn't a big man in stature, but in the Wanganui Tramping Club his qualities stamped him as a giant.
Over 40 years he became a legendary figure, not for particularly ground-breaking feats of tramping, although he was one of our most experienced, but for being the man he was - helpful, considerate, capable, loveable, an all-round good bloke. A search and rescue veteran, poet and raconteur, too.
In latter years he came to be described as a Gentleman Tramper. Given these qualities, it was an ideal description.
When Tom died on January 22, 2011, it was just minutes into leading a three-day tramp in Kaimanawa Forest Park. He literally died with his boots on. His sudden departure shocked club members. Soon they will have a tangible reminder of Tom for at the club's March meeting a book dedicated to him will be launched. This publication, Tom Luff: Memoirs of a Gentleman Tramper, brings together writings and poems by Tom and about him and wife Betty.
It's a salute to a man who lives on in the collective memories of all those who were fortunate enough to tramp the tracks of Aotearoa/New Zealand with him, overnight in huts with him, sit around camp fires with him - and to share his wisdom. The 100-page limited edition book costs $5 and is only available through the club.
The launch date coincides with the 30th anniversary of the installation of a new wood-burning stove in Mangaturuturu Hut in Tongariro National Park - a project Tom organised. He persuaded club members to carry the stove rather than helicopter it in as a tribute to the club's pioneers who carried all the materials in from Horopito to build the hut, which opened in 1958.
The club's March programme:
¦ Sat-Sun 4-5, Pine clearing on Mt Ruapehu, leader Val
¦Fri-Sun 10-12, Tarn Ridge Hut, Tararua Forest Park, leader Tracey
¦ Sat or Sun 11 or 12, New Plymouth Coastal Walk, leader Barry
¦ Mon-Tues 13-21, Whirinaki Forest Park, leader Brian
¦ Sun 19, Waiinui Beach, leaders Diane and Royce
¦ Wed-Wed 22-29, Gisborne area tramps, leader Jacky
¦ Sat or Sun 25 or 26, Raumati Escarpment, leader Roger
Make all enquiries about trips to Barbara phone 348 9149 or the club secretary Dorothy phone 345 7039.
The midweekers have a full programme of interesting trips every Wednesday. Those who get out on Thursday are in two groups, with longer walks on March 9 and 23 and shorter ones for the TT2 group on March 2 and 16. The Wednesday contact is Margret, phone 344 3899, and the Thursday contact is Barbara, phone 348 9149.
To join weekend trips call the leader by the previous Tuesday at the latest. Call by the night before for day trips. As some trips have limited numbers, leaders have the final say about who to take as they are responsible for the safety and well-being of everyone on their trips.
For further information contact Barbara at 348 9149 or visit our website www.wanganuitrampingclub.
The next meeting at the Deerstalkers' Hall, Peat St, at 7.30pm on Wednesday, March 1 features an illustrated talk by Lyndon Tamblyn who heads a disaster response organisation called Beyond Disaster Relief NZ. Its teams initiate, facilitate and co-ordinate relief aid. Lyndon has been on 13 deployments. All welcome.