Monday, December 29, 2008

Thoughts and Summer Tour 2009

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.


Super Nova said...

Never underestimate the power of your own written word, Robb. Never. I can't make sense in my head, but when I write, I feel more deeply, I connect more fully, I understand at a higher level. I look forward to your tapes and thoughts and journals and poetry and songs and toasts and SO many amazing things you are going to create this week.

Experience them deeply, and then maybe I can hang on to one little bit of those experiences and feel the Ruahines wind against my skin!

Be safe..but not TOO safe.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'Arcy,
Cheers for your lovely words, and I am so happy to read you enjoy the tapes in particular. I guess the importance of my written words are in the future, when this painful hip, and, or, old age prevent me from interacting with the mountains. Then these memories will be waiting for me still fresh and vivid. The fact wonderful people such as yourself care to stop by and read them or look at the photos isjust a huge bonus really, connections that have literally changed my life. And while dedicating this trip to Ed Cotter for his lack of words, I do not mean to imply anything negative. Ed is 82 and STILL active in the hills, he is living in the present and I suspect he always has. It would just be something for him to dust off from time to time and bring a smile to his face.
D'Arcy, Happy New Year to you, and I mean New Year in a very large way. Your Path is an inspirational one and I will honour your presence in my life in the Ruahines. You might feel on the breeze all the way over there in Utah! Stay Tuned my very cool friend.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Robb, I've dropped over to read another great post, enjoy super photos, and wish you a happy mountain trekking time. You are living the life others only dream of and sharing it with your blogging has touched many lives. You are inspiring to know and have a beautiful family and friends.

Enjoy your journey and reconnection. :D

Would Tara blog here while you're gone?

Cheers! JJ

ophelia rising said...

Robb, I wish you a wonderful trip, full of rejuvenation and beauty, and am so glad you can share it with such a dear friend. I love how you acknowledge and celebrate these gifts in life with such spirit and insight. You inspire me in so many ways.

I, for one - (and along with many others) - recognize the importance and beauty of your words, and although they are written for you, I am quite appreciative that I can be a part of your thoughts and your quiet wisdom, by reading your eloquent posts and "getting" you in this way. I will always and forever be grateful for that.

Much aroha to you...

Bob McKerrow said...

Kia Ora Robb

I wish you astimulating journey with lots of fine weather.

Spoke to Ed Cotter yestyerday and we are going to have an outing together in the next week or two.

I am now walking without crutches for up to an hour so things are improving. Watch it mate, I will be striding over the Ruahines next year. Take care. Bob

Super Nova said...

Robb, I get it, the lack of words. I experiences something just like that this month. I didn't want to write anything down or record anything, I wanted to jsut be in the moment. That's how my last trip to Paris was. I took NO photos. Seriously, none. But I am glad that I didn't, in a way, because now it is just my trip, and mine alone. I didn't need to come back and share all these photos and words with people, I could just let it be in me. That's how Ed does it, and I love that.

But, I am a writer at heart, so I can only do that a few times, really, for me, words seem to make things more real, more in the moment.

I'm jealous of your journey!But jealous in the best sense of the word!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora JJ,
I think you and Jeff lead a pretty cool life as well! Thanks for your thoughts, have picked my friend and we are having a wonderful time and haven't even left for the mountains yet. I think Tara will be too busy with the boys to get around to blogging. She is so cool to put up with me wandering around. Stay tuned JJ!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Ophelia,
I feel the same about you and your place, and the wonderful connection we have made here. I will take your presence along with me. Kia kaha!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
That is fantastic news! I know you will back amongst the mountains soon, and that is a thought that really brings a warm smile to my face.
The weather looks pretty good for at least a couple of days anyway, and I am sure it will be an interesting experience as always. To share it with an old mate just adds layers to the whole thing.
Please give Ed my regards, though I hardly think he will remember me, I will always remember him. Happy New Year Bob, I hope you have a lovely evening with your lovely daughters Aroha and Ruia, and please give Gavin a big G'day as well. I shall toastyou in the mountains.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'Arcy,
I guess that is the dualism of how can approach memories, or what we need from them. I think a little of both is perhaps a good thing. I know I have 15-20 notebooks full of thoughts and poems and writings I never shared at all, yet have also made me confident enough to begin sharing here. I will take your beautiful spirit to the Ruahines as well my friend. One day is a Possibility!

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

May you experience the dawning of a new year in a fresh, beautiful wonderful way in the land you love so much.

Peace to you.

Beth said...

Have a brilliant trip, Robb and I send you my very best wishes for the New Year. So glad we met in 2008!

Greg Brave said...

Hi Robb,
After reading your post, this thought ran through my mind that after having this trip with you, Jeff will surely return there... I don't know why.
Anyway, as usual great post and photo.

Jamie said...

Hey Robb,

Take care bro whereever you are out there!
Looking at metvuw you will be sitting in a hut on Saturday, but then then end of your trip will be pearler!

Look forward to seeing the photos!

Barbara Martin said...

I've come via Pam's site, Textilosophy Oz, where she's recommended your nature connection. I used to hike in the Canadian Rockies and ride horseback long distances while enjoying the countryside. Now I mainly find supporting photos to accompany my notes on different virtual tours of the Canadian landscapes.

During my childhood my family took long summer vacations in the Canadian Rockies where I accompanied my older brothers on tramps into the woods, up inclines, beside canyons to see wondrous waterfalls, and then back to the campground in time for dinner. We never worried about meeting bears or other carnivorous animals on our treks, and in the late 50s and up to the mid-60s the trails were mere tracks in the woods, rarely the groomed trails one finds in the national parks today.

The wilderness in New Zealand is different, but wilderness all the same with a perfect connection to nature. Reconnecting as you do, and I through the internet now, brings a sense of peace with oneself and a knowledge of the divine difficult to explain to others. This I feel in your blog, Robb; it exudes via your descriptive words while telling your stories and your history of going into nature.

Gustav said...

Yowser to the Roaster in the Toaster and You!

I have just returned from a hike into Mt Field National Park with my 6 ft 5 inch cousin George and his fiancee. They both flew in from Wisconsin and we had an inspring journey as you and Jeff are having or have had (I got the pic with Jeff and the trout).

I wait eagerly for your post on your latest journey of friendship and the mountains.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora HWHL,
Cheers! And the same wishes right back to you. I had a great trip and started the year in the best possible way. My best to you and your family.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Beth,
Thank you, and it was a great trip in ways different from other trips I have made, but still magical. And my best wishes to you as well. Your place has been a special and inspiring one for me and I look forward to the coming year as well! Cheers.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Greg,
Your premonitions may indeed prove correct. I can't write that Jeff views the Ruahines the same way as I do, but then I never expected that. A spiritual home to one is just another play ground to another. Mountains mean different things to different people but I am sure Jeff experienced enough that a trip returning to them is a distinct possibility. Cheers mate, it was a great trip and I will post something in due course. Hope your holiday season found out amongst Nature!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Jamie,
Hey there my friend good to read from you! Your forecast was spot on! Spent Saturday watching the Maropea river flood in the pouring rain from the hut porch - though did get out in the afternoon for a day walk to the tops. Then had two cracker days on the river and tops, no worries about the sun tans. Would have been a perfect trip over those two days to camp up high and cover some ground but my mate was too interested in the trout. Will post soon. Hope your holidays were cool, and my best wishes for a fantastic wedding to you and Penny. Regards to your folks. Cheers my friend.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Barbara,
Haere mai ( Welcome), and cheers to you for your visit from Pam's. That is tremendously kind of her to plug my place here and I am honoured.
I guess in a lot of ways this place provides a place for me to share as well a place to return to to recalls those trips and places I love so much. Perhaps not so much now but the years tend to slip by quickly and then these words and photos will shine for me - like your memories of the Canadian Rockies with your family. Simpler less complicated times where we rely on ourselves and not Park Rangers and groomed tracks. You can still find that here in New Zealand. I may be the last generation to really get that. I sense you do understand that connection and I look forward to stopping by your place when I come down from my current mountain high. Read you soon! Cheers.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Brother,
You were toasted many times. Not sure what the Roaster really thought of the Ruahines or my connection to them but that is beside the point. I KNOW he loved that trout! Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

yo Dobber! I have many things to say, nay, expound,nay, philosophize upon my trip into the Ruahines and indeed New Zealand as a whole. As I sit in the middle of the north american continent in the middle of winter, many thoughts of our trip burst into being. But first I have to say,nay,demand, it is fricking cold here! Sub zero cold! So cold that if I dipped one toe into a river with this cold I would not only lose my foot to gangrene within 3 hours, I would be at the mercy of fate from that point on. Please Dobber you must understand, when the temperature never gets above zero degrees F. it is way colder than anything you get on the north island. Please understand this, my sanity depends on it. We just had a week where the high was -2 degrees F. I went out x-country skiing and brrrrrrr. No comparison. None. Sorry. So I feel better now, wether you acknowedge or not, I have had my say. Now onto more important items. I loved hiking into the mountains with you. My only regret is that your hip kept us from the high country, because the glimpse that I did see looked and felt tremendous. I truly appreciate that you powered into the mountains anyway, I sensed a profound struggle, mentally and physically with the hip and I cannot imagine the pounding you endured. Thank you Brother. Though you write that my highlight of the trip must have been the beautiful Rainbow Trout, 26 inches and 8 pounds, that was only the icing on the cake, the exclamation point on a whole month of travels in New Zealand. Now do not get me wrong, I love icing, and I love Trout for breakfast, talk about powering up for the hike out! But there is much more to the wilderness than a trout, a riverwalk, a shot of whiskey or tequila with salt and lime. There is peace and tranquility, a purpose of being beyond the mundane of culture and other piffles and trifles. There are individual river riffles and songs of the mountains to consider. There are pools of hope and valleys unexplored, there are skies full of stars and wonders around every turn. These are the true prizes we seek when we go deep, and as long as we go unencumbered by preconceptions, and stay open to possibilities,we will achieve our own glory, huge in our own immediacy, knowingly minor in the scheme of the universe.
So Dobber the highlights of my Ruahines are:the night at top maopea hut under the stars with no dew dropping on me all night long, what a star show, a once in a decade no Moon, no cloouds, full on star show; arriving at maropea forks hut and realizing what a glorious spot to camp at despite the protestations of my bank manager(and cracking a can of Fosters in celebration); checking out the confluence of the forks after the all day rain; latching onto the the huge Trout and the epic battle that ensued, man versus beast in a thrilling match of wits and endurance and..............;and then a couple of brewkis in oopaloolangaloongalong or some town on the way back to Palmy. Yowser! More Thoughts will come later as they flood in somnambulatorally.Yowser!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Roaster,
Good to read your thoughts brother, cheers! Ah, the cold! My premise was merely that New Zealand winters, particularly in the mountains is a different kind of cold. In winter, for instance, at Maropea Forks the temperature drops to -7celsius, but the damp form the inversion layer of the warmer air close to the river meeting the colder air pushing down from above creates a damp coldness which is simply different from those I experienced in my 32 years of living in Wisconsin. I have seen it go early in the morning from being cold and green to immediately covered in thick hoar frost, an amazing sight and bloody cold. So I will write that indeed those sorts of temperatures in Wisconsin are indeed colder, but the heavy damp blanket of a different type of cold in below zero celsius makes that hut stove look pretty good in July. Just different.
My hip has been responding very well to the acupuncture, and while I don't think I will be running across the ranges, I will still get amongst them. It was a bad patch during that time, but worth it. It would have been cool had we had one more night, which would have opened up a few more options, but we could have put more thought into heading out over the longer way via Sparrowhawk biv as those were the days to do it. A comment left on the trip itself, was left by a a guy who was there, and knows John and I. Still, it was what it was and I enjoyed each moment as best I could, and it was cool to get out and climb through that windy storm to the tops even if for just a sniff.
The Bank Manager - you had me laughing Jeff, as that had slipped my mind. The memories are all in there. My memories which keep coming to me,were crossing the windy saddle and getting into real back country, the night at Top Maropea, hooking up with John on the river, the walk up tops, enjoying a solo walk back up river, and mostly being in your company relishing it for what it was, watching that beautiful fish hit and roll, sharing that meal of fresh trout, sharing the mountains and nature.
Those beers at the Ongaonga pub were pretty enjoyable as well! Stay warm brother!

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