Friday, April 25, 2008

Celebration



This past week I was finally able to journey out into the Ruahines once again, even if for just one night. The weather, work, the roar, and life commitments all combining over the last month to keep my lingering desire for mountain interaction in check. The weather was still a bit inclement but the window presented itself and off I went. Two aspects of this one night trip made it special, and a celebration of sorts. 0ne was that it was my 25th night spent at my destination, Top Maropea. The second was that I was joined by my friend Adam, who was on his first encounter with the Ruahines. Adam has given me the gift of his music over these past few months, so it was a pleasure and privilege to be able to share my passion and experience with him.






I first went to Top Maropea in 1998 with a friend, Tony Beddis. I had been doing quite a few day walks with Nigel, and we had just really begun to do over night tramps as we started to get a bit more serious about exploring these ranges. I recall distinctly gasping in delight when I emerged from the beech and leatherwood belt behind Sunrise hut, and the panorama and dramatic view of the main range opened before me. Te Atuoaparpara looming over us, Waipawa saddle to the south, to the north Armstrong saddle and the Waipawa head water catchment. I knew none of this then, just that it's beauty took my breath away. I still firmly believe the one hour walk from Sunrise to the forest above Top Maropea would be the finest one hour walk in the Ruahine ranges, if not amongst all of Aotearoa's wonderful offerings. 0nce high above Armstrong saddle the view opens up to the entire Ruahines and Maropea valley lies below, on a good day Ruapehu, Ngarahoe, and Tongariro - the Rim of Fire - lie to the west, it never fails to stir my soul. At Top Maropea the hut lies at 1242 metres on a terrace overlooking the Maropea valley. That afternoon with Tony my soul was captured by these ranges. It was my first experience with that feeling of "Entrainment" I wrote of on my last post. I just looked out upon that beautiful valley knowing I had to see it closer. I have now become very familiar with the Maropea, and have climbed along its open tops to the north, gone into to the valleys and tops beyond it from all directions. Yet this place still calls to me strongly.










0f the more than 25 crossings I have done of Armstrong saddle, perhaps less than 10 would have been done in perfect conditions, where the walk and view can simply be absorbed and enjoyed. Most often it will be raining, snowing or sleeting, cloud obscured, or windy, and often a combination of some or all of those factors. I have been knocked over a few times by gale force gusts of wind, and have had to shelter at both Sunrise or Top Maropea when I judged conditions to be too bad to venture further. It is only an hour of exposure, but that it is more than long enough to get into trouble in these mountains. I have come to know this crossing well, and fairly good at judging the wind and conditions. So even on this trip with Adam when it was raining and the prevailing nor'wester very strong we crossed. The photos above were taken the next day when back at Sunrise, an even windier experience for Adam. This day was cloud obscured and the wind particularly strong on the western side so no time for photos, or to even relax until we reached the shelter of the forest above Top Maropea.




"Celebration"


I came to you

Sought your presence

Not to be rebuffed

by Gales

Nor daunted by Your shades of Grey

Your shedding of tears will not deny

Not today my love

Your moodiness enchants as well

Proceed with Caution!

Handle with Care!

The Journey is only the Beginning

Here I am Again

In your Bosom

Accepted

Part of this moment

0nce more

It is our celebration


22 April 2008, written at, and for, Top Maropea






We toasted this occasion with a very fine 16 year old Bushmill's Irish whiskey, a mellow sweetness with a nutty finish, and perfect for a cold mountain late afternoon and evening period of celebration. Dinner was Ruahine venison, quick fried after a plum sauce marinade, and served with Maori potatoes boiled first, then fried in onion, garlic, and fresh tarragon and rosemary. Yum!


Getting a fire going at Top Maropea has never been easy. Given its historical structure status, the recent renovations replaced the old smokey hole ridden chimney and rotted out fireplace with a new one. Yet finding wood at 1242 meters presents certain problems. I roamed the forest below the hut with Adam to locate some dead beech branches, and we came across a beautiful chunk of dead leatherwood as well. Tough stuff but if you get it burning it is great stuff. I think my fire building skills have gotten quite good over the years if I may write so. I have learned well from John. The hardest, and most necessary fire, I have built here was in August of 2007. I had come up from Maropea Forks on my own to encounter a sudden blizzard at Top Maropea. I walked up through the forest with trees crashing down and upon arriving at the open tops quickly came to the obvious conclusion there was no way possible to venture any further and retreated to the hut. The wind was howling I was wet and cold from the snow, it was minus 7 Celsius in the hut, I had no paper and only very little wood. I went back out and found wood, glad I always carry a little hand saw, then shaved off the wet bits with my knife to make kindling, and slowly worked it into a great fire, warming me, drying my wet gear, and occupying my mind from concern. The best fire I ever built.






Adam's thoughts written in note book 22 April:

The Ruahine Ranges:

I looked up at the rounded tree covered giants above me. To see the plants and hear the birds, life looks so easy and ordered. The mountains resemble a mother cradling her children and sustaining tenderly life and nature.

It is only when you brave their bitter cold and windswept ridges, the treacherous tracks, the dark vast bush in which one wrong turn could lead to disaster, that you realize this is not a place you should be.

The fragility of life here. The absolute reliance on certain objects: a coat, a hut, some soup or a tin of beans, the absence of which could lead to trouble or death.

These are not the conquered lowlands that I know. Domesticated and broken. A beast of burden sold into slavery for our own economic benefit. This is the last stronghold of the wild, the untamed. A place where we are intruders, where Nature could at any moment unleash it's wrath and smite us......but it has not.

This gives us a new perspective about our relationship with these mountains. Maybe we are not the rulers of this land. Maybe the mountains allow us to be here as a benevolent King allows his subjects to roam his lands. A fleeting intrusion in a timeless place......


"Intertwined"

Silent Whispers

Ghostly voices I welcome

This Canvass Painted

Golden hues

brilliant blues

infrequently

more often the grey mist

and sunset bringing

majestic purples

Indescribable shades of blue and black

Rain on the tin roof

Waves of Wind passing over

Quiet but never Silence

Sounds I know well here

Crackling fire dying slowly

I must sleep

22 April 2008 Top Maropea

Below are all photos of interaction with Top Maropea, coming, going, at the hut, the canvass being painted........







































The huts in Aotearoa all contain hut books, a book into which parties write their names, dates, destinations, activity, and any comments they might have. The book allows the Department of Conservation to monitor use, aids in possible search and rescue missions, and they also make interesting reading, particularly ones which are in more inaccessible areas and the hut books go back many years. The current book at Top Maropea goes back to 2004, and is a long way from full. I was looking back at the entries I had made in this book, reminiscing on those trips and I noticed where in the activity section of the page, where most write in tramping, hunting, ect., I had instead written adjectives that, looking back now, pretty well describe the reason for my trip and where I was at in my own life reflected in those words. It is a poem of its own in a way.

"Reasons for being Here"

Reinvigoration
Refocus
Getting wet
Staying warm and dry
Solitude
Healing
Well Being, Patience, Silence
Renewal
Acceptance
To learn
Rememberance
Celebration

Rangimarie
Aroha ano


21 comments:

Gustav said...

Brother!

What can I say about this monumental entry.

This may be your finest blog yet. Your 25 journeys to Top Maropea contrasted against Adam's first.

Adam's entry eloquently describes the feeling of entering such a wild place for the first time. How wonderful!

Thank you brother for this post and for taking me to this spot that in many ways is the heart of who you are.

Asta my blood brother.

MB said...

Robb, it is indeed a beautiful place. It's a stretch for me to imagine reaching a place like that and finding... a hut, with fireplace, furniture, and a solid roof! What a concept—the comforts of home in the midst of wilderness. Congratulations, it sounds like you celebrated your 25th in fine style!

Ruahines said...

Tena koe Gustav,
Well brother, you have shared two visits to Top Maropea and beyond so you understand. That night we spent there under a full moon with the snow on the peaks around us lit up in translucent light was stunning and one of the finest memories I have of this special place. Kia ora!

Kia ora MB,
Yes, coming from the states I found the concept of huts somewhat strange, until I started travelling in the mountains and quickly understood their purpose. They were originally built as "homes" for deer cullers in the mountains. Deer were released here in the late 1800's and with no natural predators in Aotearoa they thrived and multiplied into huge herds causing erosion and severely damaging the forests. So men were sent in to "cull" or kill the deer to try and thin the herds. The hut and track systems of New Zealand are the result of this. The huts are very basic and provide shelter in the mountains but are all very cool, and most are in sublime spots simply as that was the only viable places to be built in this rugged country. If interested I did a few posts earlier on the huts in the Ruahine I have visited and it does give a fairly good rundown on the hut system. Kia ora MB, and it was a very fine celebration. Cheers.
Noho ora mai,
Robb

Marja said...

Kia Ora Robb
What a wonderful post. I can feel the excitement and peaceful experience. I love the mountains but only experienced it in the luxury of day tramps and good weather. Or tramps on the west coast were it rained but being reasonably warm at the same time.
I love your poetry "the canvas painted, golden hues, brilliant blues.. Beautiful and loved to read about Adams experience.
A real fine time for celebration.
I would love to walk one day when there is snow. Looks wonderful
Have a nice day

Ruahines said...

Tena Koe Marja,
Adam and I were fortunate it was also a bit warmer here in the north, as if it had been a cold wind I might not have crossed the saddle. Yet those decisions also contribute to the wildness of a place, and Adam sensed that. I loved his writing as well, he is a very talented man and a fine friend. I will miss him as he returns to Ireland this very evening and I am glad we shared this experience.
It is indeed a beautiful winter crossing with snow - on a nice day! If you ever get up this way I would love to show it to you. Have a great day Marja.
Ka kite ano,
Robb

Bob McKerrow said...

Robb, a mountain epistle if ever there was one. A lot to digest. You need to get out in the hills to write about them. There are too many armchair writers today about the hills and mountains and it takes a sleep outside in the rain, bitten by sandflies, wet woollen clothes rubbing your groin, a swollen river to cross and survive, and to offset the misery, a watery sunrise and a cloudless day to tramp home. The single malt at the end of the journey tastes ten times better than the one at the start in the comfort of a warm home. It is only through pain, suffereing and hardship that the human heart is opened to greatness.

Your poetry is getting better. I liked them,
Bob

Kate said...

Robb:
Thanks for checking in with me. I have been absent in more ways than one lately. Getting back to my blog is a good sign.
The story of your journey and your photos are beautiful. I especially like the last photo (or the first photo, depending on how you look at it).
I'm glad to see you are still doing what you were born to do.
Miss you guys. Give Tara my love.

Ruahines said...

Tena Koe Bob,
Cheers, and I agree. It is most often from the comfort of home we seemingly rarely recall that pain, the tough decisions, the sometimes wonder of what we are doing in these places, and instead write of the glorious interactions with nature. I may be in the more surface Abbey camp on this one as well, no whiskey out here in the world, and I have admittedly had my share, has ever tasted as good as a wee dram in there.
My problem with poetry, not to over use the Abbey surface analogy - but I will, is that I have a hard getting below the surface, use imagery or simile to describe what is right in front of me, or even inside me. I love it, but it is a very hard pursuit.
Kia ora Bob, I expect your book to arrive in the morning finally. Have an excellent evening.
Noho ora mai ra,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Katie,
How wonderful to hear from you! I hope all is well and will take your being back to blogging as it is well. We really need to do a better job of staying in touch, it is far too easy for time to slip away.
I hope you recognized Adam from our time in Wellington. He now lives in Ireland and playing music full time. His fiddle playing is so sensational and Tara and I were treated to few private "concerts". It was sad to say goodbye to him as he is off back to Ireland now.
Thanks for your kind words, you are a huge part of the ripple which brought me here to discover the place I belong. Kia ora!
Rangimarie
Aroha ano,
Robb

Steffi said...

Wonderful pictures and a really long nice post!

Greetings,Steffi

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Steffi,
Cheers!
Robb

PATERIKA HENGREAVES, Poet Laureate said...

Kia ora Robb

Your blog, “Celebration” was masterfully put together and provided me with much enjoyable reading. I know that in this life, I shall never scale mountains like you do but surely what a heck of a climb I got from my virtual climb with you. Just magnificent… the well chosen words, sentences, imagery and breathtakingly beautiful pictures sustained me to my heart’s delight through the highs and lows of nature at its best among the ranges of Ruahine. No small wonder that you have revisited the “shrine”, Ruahine so many times. Who could fault you for that when God’s handy work provides such awesome scenery and excursions for the mind, body, soul and the serenity gained? Your reporting of your trek to the top of Maropea was skillfully done. The poem, “Celebration” was indeed the most profound way to conclude your account of your journey through the ranges of Ruahine. The poem captured deep-felt emotions, and profound respect for nature and the mountain. The opening lines of the poem were brilliantly carved in true poetic style and in the true spirit of a mountaineer attune with nature and the awesomeness of environmental pursuits. Just had to read the opening lines again as I savoured the beauty of the poem

“I came to you
Sought your presence
Not to be rebuffed”…

Indeed, the poem was a fitting way to end what was a perfect day with Ruahine…truly a celebration to remember. I just had to read the poem again. Here it goes… I love it.

“Celebration"

I came to you

Sought your presence

Not to be rebuffed

by Gales

Nor daunted by Your shades of Grey

Your shedding of tears will not

deny

Not today my love

Your moodiness enchants as well

Proceed with Caution!

Handle with Care!

The Journey is only the Beginning

Here I am Again

In your Bosom

Accepted

Part of this moment

0nce more

It is our celebration

By Robert Kloss
Poet and Kiwi mountaineer)

Thank you very much for your comments on my site. Greatly appreciated!

Gustav said...

Kia ora Brother

What an interesting mix of comments.

Your poetry has always stood on its own like dozens of large boulders in a stream of consciousness.

Speaking of celebration Maya turns 10 this Sunday!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Paterika,
I am so happy you enjoyed the post, photos, and more so the poetry. Coming from you that means a lot and so I write: Kia ora!
You put in a class I do not deserve by calling me a "mountaineer", for I am not. I am a tramper and a roamer of these ranges I love so much. My technical abilities as a true mountaineer have little merit, none really. Though there have been times in winter where an ice axe or crampons would have been handy! But if the definition of a mountaineer were loving the mountains, traveling amongst them with an ope n heart and soul - then I am indeed a mountaineer.
Again Paterika, Kia ora! I have linked to your site and I encourage any who stop here to visit you and enjoy your wonderful world of poetry. Rangimarie Paterika.
Ka kite ano,
Robb

Ruahines said...

My brother,
Cheers! I will in touch to wish Maya a fine day. 10! Taylor to be 15! Do you recall that moment of huge discovery almost 15 years ago in Sausalito? I recall each second vividly with colours bursting around us.
Boulders in a river. I like that my brother.
Rangimarie
Aroha ano,
Robb

D'Arcy said...

poetic, beautiful, celebratory, monumental, and reminds me that I need to go hiking tomorrow...something I was planning on, but almost forgot. For today, I opened my windows wide, feel the fresh breeze fill my small home and breathe deeply.

Thank you for taking me on this journey with you today, Mother's Day--here, a day I also love to honor Mother Earth. This was the perfect thing to read.

God bless!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Darcy,
Glad to be of service. I hope you have an excellent hike, or tramp as we here in Aotearoa call such activity. I like your idea of honouring Mother Earth - thus everday should be Mother's Day. Kia ora Darcy.
Ka kite ano,
Robb

MB said...

Robb, Thanks for pointing me in the direction of your old posts. I did look back and found a very informative older post of yours detailing the hut system and its history. Fascinating. Closest thing we've got here, I think, is an occasional Forest Service yurt — certainly nothing systematized. So it's usually tenting and a fire ring for us! :-) The notion of deer culling sounds brutal but apparently necessary to rectifying an ecosystem imbalance. Thanks again for the information. You live in a beauty place.

MB said...

Ha! I meant "beautiful place" or "place of beauty." Maybe "beauty place" works too, I dunno.

Ruahines said...

Tena Koe MB,
No worries, and the word beauty is actually part of the Kiwi venecular almost as you used it, are you sure you have no Kiwi blood coursing through your veins?
Glad to read you enjoyed the hut posts. I certainly enjoy visiting them.
Deer culling can be somewhat of a brutal notion, but simply as deer are introduced with no predators to keep them in check, the problems can be many. Deforestation and erosion the main ones. It is a very touchy issue here as well, mainly between the Department of Conservation and the hunters. I find myself on both sides at times as I understand how fragile the mountains are, yet appreciate the beauty of seeing a deer out there. I also enjoy some tasty venison from time to time. Kai ora MB.
Ka kite ano,
Robb

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