Once again I ready myself for my annual summer holiday journey amongst the Ruahine ranges. The eighth such summer trip of reasonable duration done this time of year. I can recall so very well those prior trips, as I have always written a diary along the way, take photos to capture the moments, and savour them later like a fine wine. And of course, share them here as well, for those who care to read them, to view this place, and even get a glimpse of what they mean and have brought to my life.
This years trip will be a little different, a little bit of an interesting twist, and hopefully will come off as a success. Though commonly on these mountain trips it is not the memories of a trip coming off exactly as planned, but rather the patience, joy, and aroha with which we accept the Gifts we are given instead.
I am driving down to Wellington on New Year's Eve and picking up my friend Jeff early in the morning at the airport. He has been traveling in the south island with his lovely wife Sarah, and daughter Zoe visiting family he has living in Christchurch. He is joining me for a week and a five night adventure in the Ruahines. So we will celebrate New Year's eve here with my family and a few friends, then early on New Year's day drag our hopefully not too sore heads out to the mountains. Jeff is one of my oldest friends, dating back to 1980 when we met at Ripon College where he played basketball and I played football. We shared a love of music and more so a love of being outdoors, of wandering in Nature and just being amongst Her. Jeff's wonderment really impacted me and started me on my own journey which continues today. He was my first Nature mentor, someone who helped open this door inside me quite possibly never even knowing he did.
I would write the chances of Jeff returning to this part of the world are slim. This is really a once in a lifetime trip for him and his family. That is just reality. So the opportunity to share my love of the Ruahines with this friend literally brings tears to my eyes. I just want to savour the reconnection and create memories that will have to last the rest of our days. To be in a timeless place with this friend, where time has no meaning except light and dark, for five days, is a gift to treasure.
The other interesting aspect is that sometime on our second day we are meeting John Nash, my fine Kiwi friend and long time tramping companion well represented in this place. John has a few prior plans and will walk in and meet us at Maropea Forks and spend three nights with us as we roam around a bit. I have not seen John since our winter trip in July so I relish his presence as well, and the thought of these two very important people in my life meeting and breaking bread together brings a large smile to my face. Sometimes it is cool to just sit back, watch and Listen. I can't wait!!!
I dedicate this coming trip to all three of the people pictured above:
To Bob Mckerrow on the left for your unabashed acceptance, hospitality, experience, and friendship. I know you can't walk in the mountains just yet my friend, so let me walk for you. I take you with me in spirit, and have a fine wee dram to toast you with!
To my beautiful wife Tara for your aroha, for your refusal to accept mediocrity, and your understanding and acceptance of what this is to me, to us. I love you darlin'.
And to Ed Cotter, a man I have only once met, but was simply one of those of those people you do not forget. Ed is peer of Ed Hillary, a climber of legendary status. In our conversation he told me that on so many nights he shared high on mountains with Hillary or George Lowe, or any other climber of note, that the others would always break out their diaries and write about the day. Ed said he was never concerned with that then, that the climbs and experiences were fresh and he thought he would remember them vividly. He is now 82 years old and regrets a bit he did not write these things down. He remembers the climbs well enough, but what is gone are the moments of laughter, of the banter, of the real conversations now gone like a wisp of smoke up a hut chimney. So I dedicate this to Ed Cotter, for making me realize the "importance" of my own written words, even if they are just for me. So the aroma of the musty forest, or wood smoke is always upon me, so the sound of the clear mountain river is never gone, so the sight of a far off peak reveals itself through a break on a ridge, so the Ruahines are always with me and part of me.