Yet I cannot help but wonder if I write this from the same point of view which Edward Abbey wrote "Desert Solitaire", which though a rough and beautiful celebration of the south east Utah canyon lands, is also written from a eulogistic point of view, acknowledement of a place forever changed, or being changed, by the encroachment of modernization and man. Does the helicopter represent the same to me? And as Abbey wrote after his book came out. " Finally, a word of caution : Do not jump into your automobile next June and rush out to the canyon country hoping to see some of that which I have attempted to evoke in these pages. In the first place you cannot see ANYTHING from a car; you've got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbrush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you'll see something, maybe. Probably not. In the second place most of what I write about is already gone or going under fast. This is not a travel guide but an elegy. A memorial. You're holding a tombstone in your hands. A bloody rock. Don't drop it on your foot - throw it at something big and glassy. What do you have to lose?" - Edward Abbey. Perhaps the helicopter was my car.
I hope not. I have made 14 trips to Maropea Forks before that unpleasant encounter, and so perhaps can make another 14 until it happens again. For it is a beautiful and special place, and a Ruahine spot that holds so many memories for me and thus I will not hesitate to return there and take my chances. One special trip was in the winter of 2004 with Gustav. Winter brings even a greater sense of remoteness to the Ruahine ranges. On my annual winter trips to the forks I have never seen a soul, except maybe my own reflected in the glistening pools on the river. I don't often see Gustav so to travel with him, for the second time, to Maropea Forks was a relished opportunity. We stayed there for three days. It was brutally cold, the three hour walk down a freezing Maropea river a staunch enough barrier for all but the most hearty trampers, and we had the wonderful hut Corker wood stove going just quietly soon after our arrival. On the second day I took a solo walk up the east branch of the Maropea a few hours. I saw three deer and a Whio - which was the highlight of my walk - and after a few hours stopped for a cup of tea. While enjoying my brew along the river I noticed the wind had begun to pick up and the sky overhead started to darken. I had a few hours to walk back down river, which held no problems, and thought of a warm hut to return to was a good one. By the time I turned the last bend of the river to the hut, the snow had begun to fall very gently. As Gustav and I sat on the porch the snow began to fall as if back in our native Wisconsin, big and fluffy flakes, like bolls of cotton piling up on the ground. Then the sky grew very dark and wind came swirling down from the tops, so much so we could not tell which direction it came from. The snow swirled in the wind,one side of the valley still showing the sun, the other pitch black. We just stared in awe, until it became too much and too cold to remain outside and retreated into the warmth of the hut and the Corker stove. It was a very magical moment, and I could see by the wild and enlivened look in Gustav's eyes it had been for him as well. The snow beat down heavily on the tin roof, the wind lashed the forest. We relished the moment at Maropea Forks.
The Corker waits
and Stone Cold
Until weary travelers
bring it to Life
Warmth and Sanctuary
This is the Soul of the Corker
written 27 August 2004 Maropea Forks