Saturday, December 1, 2007


John gazing across Parks Peak ridge and Makaroro valley to main range

It has been awhile since I have ventured forth into the mountains. My solo journey to Maropea Forks and blizzard enforced stay at Top Maropea back in early August being my last adventure. I must remedy that and have felt inspiration from other places to do so very soon. Part of the reason for my absence has been a lingering and persistent pain in my hip, which has been now diagnosed as arthritis. At least knowing is some relief, and now I must simply learn to live with it. The only way for me to find out how much it will truly impact my life is to find out in the mountains. It has been bothering me for over a few years now, so it is not a new element for me to deal with there, just that I now know what it is. No doubt it slows me down a bit, but this has never really bothered me, as at the best of times I was no speed tramper, and I find a slow steady pace gets me there almost as fast anyway. Besides, what's the hurry?
For the past six years I have done an annual summer tramp of a more substantial duration, and having RTC member John Nash here last weekend - for Tara's birthday celebration, we began planning the 7th Annual RTC Summer Tour.
The first was 2001 when Rick and Steve came over from the states and we did a 5 night trip into the Ruahines, highlighted in an earlier post. Since then every summer has brought an extended Ruahine visit, one with Nigel and John, and the rest with John. We have it down pretty well by now, and the biggest decision to make is what route or destination to choose.

Last year we spent 5 days in the Makaroro valley and Parks Peak ridge. We planned to cross the main range to Ruahine Corner, but wicked gale force winds turned us back to Upper Makaroro hut. Which was no great hardship, it is a very cool spot to sit out gales. And our emerging philosophy is to enjoy an area fully, rather than just push through to another place. I suspect with my hip, this philosophy will be not only a wise one, but also a necessary one.

Above is photo of me standing on the open tops of the main range just above Totara spur. It looks like a beautiful day, and it was, except for the wind! I am leaning into the wind trying to stay upright. Hence our decision to return to Upper Makaroro rather than battle such winds for three hours or so. We saw no clouds for three days, and not until our last evening did the more customary Ruahine cloud and mist roll in. Just above is John tending the wood stove in Upper Makaroro hut. During the day we were sunning and swimming in the river, but when the sun moves beyond the narrow valley it cools down very quickly, even in summer. A very cosy hut. I have stayed here in winter when the sun goes past by three in the afternoon, but with plenty of firewood about and my trusty saw staying warm is not a problem.

I am going to head out this coming week for a couple of nights on my own. Looking at these photos again makes me think a return here would be a pleasant destination. I will give the matter due thought.

Summer Tour 2007's final days brought back more normal Ruahine weather. Particularly in the Parks Peak area, where in my 8 visits there the norm has been far more the misty grey shroud than clear blue skies. I will take it either way. At times I have seen zero visibility from the hut door. I love the mist and the silent blanket it invokes on the environment. On this day John and I stood silently in the forest and swayed along with the beech branches as they creaked and groaned with the westerly wind buffeting over us. I walked up from Upper Makaroro to Parks Peak on my own early in the afternoon while John remained to enjoy the ambiance of the river. It is also a way for us both to experience a bit of solitude and I am sure will be an approach we will again use. I wandered down towards the track turn off about the time in the late afternoon I expected John to arrive, camera in hand. I arrived to find him sweating and puffing, resting a bit so as to appear non plussed by his efforts when he got to the hut. Yeah right! We had a good laugh. It is a very steep climb out of the valley to the ridge top, leveling out in the middle section for a wonderful stretch of big beeches, then climbs again hard to the ridge. It is always good to see those green and yellow signs.

How pleasant it is to wander about in the mountain environment when the days walk is done. The gear is scattered about the hut, dinner waiting to be prepared, fire wood chopped and sawn, and nothing to do but be part of the moment.

Above John scopes the main range with map and compass and I am just enjoying the view as we watched the low cloud settle and drift about across the Makaroro valley.

The anticipation of another trip grips my soul. Just thinking of moments like above cause me to get up and gaze out towards my garage where my gear lies in wait. I will get maps out shortly to put together some ideas for a route. It has been too long.

My last journey to the Ruahines was this past August. I ended up having to hunker down at Top Maropea for an extra night after a blizzard rolled in while returning from Maropea Forks. Even the next day the wind was ferocious, and the above photos I took in protection from the wind in a gut on the route up the spur towards Top Maropea. I have done this route 23 times now and know it pretty well. I have been knocked over by gales along it, so even though it is relatively short it is not to be taken lightly. Cloud would never bother me on this route, but the wind has prevented me crossing it many times. I love this place, this is the first Ruahine spot I stayed over night, Top Maropea, and it will always hold a significant meaning to me. Returning there this coming week is a distinct possibility as well, for once in there I am home. And the amazing Maropea Forks lies not too far away! Stay tuned.


Gustav said...

Nice pics brother - you have an eye for beauty.

PATERIKA HENGREAVES, Poet Laureate said...

Hi Robb

I'm reading your blogs for the first time. Musings from Aotearoa is great reading. You write beautifully, and poetic too. This caught my poetic eye while reading and viewing such awesome pictures.

How pleasant it is
to wander about
in the mountain environment
when the days walk is done.
The gear is scattered
the hut,
dinner waiting
to be prepared,
fire wood chopped and sawn,
and nothing to do
but be part of the moment.

Most enjoyable read. You captured my interest from start to finish. Thank you for sharing. Shall be back real soon for more of your musings. Take care.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Paterika,
Cheers for stopping by. I loved your poem about Bob and have been excited to start perusing your wide and varied poems. I have written, my admittedly poor, poems for years but only shared them in this format where I do not have to see people grimace or groan! 0ne of the good things about on line sharing. Glad you enjoyed. Aotearoa is a wonderful place. Have a great day.
Ka kite ano,