"Hut Day at Top Maropea"
Firewood chopped, sawed, stacked nice and neat
Warm dry socks upon my feet
What to do now - well let's see
I've had another few cups of tea
Checked all the straps on pack and gear
Kept myself full of good cheer
I've had a nap
took a crap
checked all the places on my map
We may think this is a realm of man's
Though the Ruahines care not
for my insignificant plans
In fact they do not give a damn
So I guess I'll just pour myself
a wee small dram
and raise a toast
To the next time I see ya
It has been a lovely day
hut bound here at Top Maropea
Written 31 September 2005. Hut bound and forced to stay an extra day and night due to inclement weather. A crude attempt at rhyming prose I know, but hey, with the wind howling over, and rain beating down on the tin roof, it sounded pretty good in that moment.
Gear: Above is my favourite photo of my pack. It was taken in a part of the forest on the spur that leads from Upper Makaroro to Parks Peak ridge. A relatively flat enjoyable stretch of an otherwise grueling climb. These beeches and forest literally pulsate with energy, and one thing that always amazes me about Ruahine forest is the very symmetrical pattern to the big trees, look how they line up to make the best use of the sun, of the meagre soil depth, each one unique and solid. So I stopped and took a photo, forgetting my pack was even there. It is a Mac Pac, at that time a New Zealand made product, made here and for, the interesting conditions our mountains present. All four seasons in one day would be an apt description. A model long since made redundant, it was the first pack I ever purchased in the modern era of "harness systems" and I paid top dollar for it. We became fine traveling companions over the last 11 years. It has carried for me many heavy loads and I in turn for it carried those loads upon my back. An even trade. The Ruahines are not kind to gear, even when the gear is cared for properly. I have gone through four pairs of boots, my poles are bent and one locked into place, my 10 year old Reflex rain jacket has a few spots rubbing through, and I won't even get into the state of my thermals and socks. I never even noticed until my last winter trip with John. My threadbare thermals seemed fine, my old gaiters still work, but all the sudden after a brief rest on Parks Peak ridge and I shouldered my old friend the Mac Pac, the whole side of the shoulder strap I always pick it up from tore loose. Not good. Thanks to the straps Nigel provided years ago to lash my Camel Bak to the pack I was able to improvise a repair and carry on for the next 4 days, but I knew this was a significant moment. The end had come.
So I have new bought a new back. Something called a Deuter with an "Air Contact Harness System". Pretty flash sounding. I felt no loyalty towards any New Zealand product as they are all now made off shore, as are most of the worlds packs these days. So I bought the most comfortable pack I found, one with a bit more space, and one that felt reasonably comfortable on my hip. Still, no way to tell until I get a few trips under my belt. And just as I felt a bit guilty about staying in the new Parks Peak hut, I find myself feeling the same about looking at my new loaded shiny pack sitting here waiting. I am sure we will become good mates in due course, but saying good bye to my old Mac Pac is also a representation of my own time moving on in the hills. We climbed many a ridge, traversed many rivers, sometimes muddy and angry, sometimes calm and serene, we endured storms and sun lit days amongst the golden tussock, I sat with you during moments of doubt and indecision, and sometimes just to enjoy the moment. You were a good friend. I toast to your endurance and loyalty. Rangimarie and Aroha. Travel safely.