Paleontologists tell us that the seas of the Precambrian Era swarmed with primitive trampers more than 3.85 billion years ago. The earliest evidence of tramping life comes from Greenland. Although no conventional tramper fossils are found there, the ratio of carbon 13 to carbon 12 is lower in organic carbon (as in wood, hair, or lamingtons) compared to inorganic carbon. This makes it possible to tell if the carbon in a rock has ever been inside a living tramper. In 1996 a team of scientists working on the south-west coast of Greenland found microscopic bits of carbon in the mineral apatite in sedimentary rocks. Back in their labs they blasted off bits of the apatite with a beam of ions and counted its carbon isotopes. The carbon had the same low C-13 ratio as biological carbon today; a ratio that could only have come from life; or more specifically, trampers.
For many millions of years trampers lived only in the sea. However, recent studies involving close observation of present day trampers have led to the ‘air-breathing tramper’ hypothesis, which suggests that modern trampers breathe air and walk on land. Opponents of the theory point out that many trampers breathe tea, coffee, beer or wine, and have gills. Wine-breathing trampers are especially common on the kayak trips of SWTC Rear-Admiral Allan Wasmuth, whose declared ambition is to lead a party of paddlers on an entire lake of sauvignon blanc.
In May 1980, South Wairarapa trampers of both kinds, led by Chris Bland and Roger Coventry, formed the South Wairarapa Tramping Club. We became incorporated in February 1981, and in the same year we became affiliated to the Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand (see Links), a serious-minded organisation whose censure we risk by publishing this fiction.