Just as the changes come to the mountains I feel the winds of change blowing over my own life as well. And though that can be at times a frightening prospect, for once part of me also welcomes what may come. Tara and I celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary in a few days. Two short years ago we did not even acknowledge its passing, much less celebrate, such was the state of our marriage, and more so such was the state of my own well being. As a man I just continued going deeper and further into my own place, a very dark place, irregardless of the fact I was dragging everything, and everyone I loved with me. Tara confronted me, pulling me back to a place where I could feel something, anything, even pain. I don't think she went down this path to save our marriage, it was to save herself, and looking back I cannot at all blame her for the hurt inflicted upon me. I felt completely undeserving of anything connected to happiness - except the mountains. I recall us talking about things we wanted, and the only thing I could think of was a wood fire in our home, and even saying that was like saying I only wanted to fly to the moon, which is how disconnected I was from my own life. How could someone like me deserve a wood fire? Tonight as I write this, my two boys are lying in front of that wood fire, I can hear it crackle, I can feel its warmth. Maybe it was representing my worth as a man, to find wood, chop and prepare it, build a fire and keep my family warm. I am not sure of its significance to my life, but at times when I am alone I find myself looking at that wood fire and tears come to my eyes.
I am not even sure how Tara and I survived 15 years, much less the past few years. Tara would say the past year or so it is because of changes in me, and that might be true enough. I feel her, I feel me, I can share my fears with her, as well as my thoughts, and all these things we share become more relevant. Yet I also think it is Tara who has changed as much as I have, perhaps more. I have always thought Tara was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, even if those words choked inside me, yet this past year she has truly blossomed as a woman, finding focus and a path in her own life, which demands that I participate wholly in our lives together as partners and parents. That is fair enough. A marriage, or relationship is only worth saving if two people deem it so, and even then it is a hard road. We are, and always will be, a work in progress. I see a few forks ahead, but for the first time I see the forks as part of a whole, and not just me alone. Happy Anniversary darling, kia ora, and aroha to you and to this journey.
Winter Thoughts : Maropea Forks, 29 July 2003, 4:50pm:
Winter Thoughts: Triangle Hut, 27 July, 2004, 6:00pm:
Above is a photo of a Whio (Blue Duck) family. This photo has been graciously lent to me by Pohangina Pete. Pete took this photo near Wakelings hut while participating in a Ruahine Whio survey. Pete's blog is at: http://pohanginapete.blogspot.com/ , and his post Danger from December 2007 has this, and many other fine photos of this endangered and rare native New Zealand bird, and an exceptionally well written and emotive piece on the state of the Whio. Changes are in store for the Whio as well. Having thrived and evolved in the clear streams and rivers of Aotearoa for thousands of years they are now under threat by man, stoats, deteriorating water quality, and are now down to perhaps six hundred pairs in the North Island, now driven to the high mountain waters which still offer the abundance of purity they require. The Ruahines one of the places holding a small population and still offering sanctuary, for now. These are not common ducks, they have evolved in Aotearoa over some 30,000 years, physically (and spiritually?) perfectly adapted to the mountain environment. To see a whio for me is a very emotional experience, a symbol of my love and connection to these ranges. To witness their ballet of interaction with the clear rivers and rapids, to be fortunate enough to watch their unerring flight down a narrow mountain river gorge, to hear that increasingly mournful call, would be the highlight of any Ruahine day or Journey. Kia ora Pete!
The first photo in the sequence above is of Sparrowhawk Bivouac, mentioned above, taken during a winter 2005 trip with John Nash. When I write of changes I think this was perhaps when I first realized that where I felt at peace and felt ANYTHING was starting to be only on my trips to the Ruahines, and that this was not a healthy way to live. Conversely, Tara was coming to her own realizations, and the next few years we worked through a series of issues with our marriage, and for me an even more important battle for my own soul. The person I was then seems far away, at least far enough to appreciate how fortunate I really am, and the worthiness of accepting the challenge of continuing that process and growth. I recall feeling fear before this trip that I would be unable to connect with the things I normally felt in the mountains, which proved to be something, the one thing, I did not have to fear.
Sparrowhawk Biv is located just off the main range, at around 1300 plus meters. It's initial presence was simply an emergency shelter, and was the back tent like part of the structure, the alcove, big enough to stand up in, and with a small shelf to cook on and bench to sit inside. Before the alcove was added, trampers, such as John and I, would have come down from gale type winds, sleet or snow, or the route cloud obscured, and happily crawled inside for a cold and damp sleep in the metal shelter. The alcove adds a certain charm, and on this day with only the wind and sleet as our foe, and out of the elements, we quite enjoyed our stay. It is a lovely area, and once the sun came out and out of the wind it was quite pleasant.
The second photo was taken by me on the flanks of 0rupu, 1475 meters, and just north of the Sparrowhawk biv location. John can be seen in the lower center of the photo as a little blue dot near the end of the slip. A very steep climb ahead of him, and ahead of us to gain 0rupu, which is the second photo on the post. Tying into this photo is the very first one on this post which is me looking north from the other side of 0rupu and towards Te Atua Mahuru -1534 meters, Maroparea to the front -1511 meters, and Remutupo-1529 meters. We sidled the flanks of Remutupo then climbed to another high point before dropping down and into the forest and right on top of Maropea Forks. I would rate this journey as one of the finest one day open top walks the Ruahines has on offer - and it has plenty!
The next photo in the above sequence is John on the the flanks of Maroparea and looking down into the head waters of the Mangatera valley, in which lake Colenso is located. After being on the open tops it was quite stunning to come across this view, which we only stumbled upon as a place of refuge to escape the wind for a bit. We stayed there and talked for some time. Not a bad spot for some realization time.
The final shot is John and I on a cold winters day outside Maropea Forks. I think it gives that sense of the heavy winter chill that can settle over the mountains. Good thing that fine Corker wood stove is waiting to be brought to life once again. As was I.