Thursday, December 31, 2009
Posted by Ruahines at 12:46 PM
Friday, December 11, 2009
One of the evenings that Gustav was here we lit a fire, put some tunes on, and at some point ended up going through the photo albums I have brought with me or put together from my life and time here in New Zealand. Interesting to hang out with an old friend from that far back and see the progression to now. There are quite a few photos of the Ruahine in there as one might imagine. Gustav asked me what my favourite 5 photos of those mountains are - a much tougher question, though a delightful conundrum, to consider. So now, a few weeks after my friend has left, I have the answer, which I am going to share below, and above and in no particular order. Mind you, I reserve the right, which I will no doubt exercise, to change my mind at anytime in accordance to my mood. But right now in this moment these 5 images of the Ruahine stand out amongst literally countless images, if not in those books, then inside my soul.
I would also like to take this opportunity to wish all those whom read here a very healthy, happy, and appreciative Yuletide season. Amongst all the hoopla and crassness of the days ahead may you find you Aroha and Nature. A long time ago a blogging friend pointed out to me that most blogs last far less than a year, then disappear. I have been writing here for a little over two years now and though I have no idea what the future will bring it has been a distinct pleasure to meet and connect with such wonderful people, you have all taught me, shared with me, and let me rave on. Kia ora and Kia kaha!
Above is a sunset I was fortunate enough to experience back in summer of 2005. It was taken from the river flats outside Waterfall hut up in the headwaters of the Kawhatau valley looking west up towards the Hikurangis, some pretty remote Ruahine country. I was with John. After a day of climbing from McKinnon hut to Mangaweka, the Ruahines highest point, then enduring about 3 hours of hard work and terror as we battled down the one creek we were not supposed to choose. Sheer waterfalls, climbing out onto and clinging to leatherwood as we dropped down from one shrub to the next like a ladder to the creek, only to soon encounter another waterfall. It was exhausting stuff, and not a place or time to make any mistakes. When we finally reached the confluence with the creek we SHOULD have been on, I flopped down next to John and we didn't say anything for a long time, we didn't have to. We knew we had made a big mistake, put ourselves into a very bad spot, and yet got out of it. We learned a lot and were very humbled. Later that evening after walking down to the river and to the hut, we took a wee dram down to the flats to toast the day - my 45th birthday. We looked up and saw the sunset above. It took our breath away.
Another birthday tramp from 2008. John and I were walking up the rather tedious approach to Parks Peak ridge after abandoning an attempt to cross Armstrong saddle due to the wind and weather. As we put on our boots on after crossing the Makaroro river we were both a bit nervous with big heavy 5 day packs and not much match fitness. Then we turned a bend and saw this! The Ruahine relaxing her angry mood to greet us and coax us along. We had a great trip, a couple sunny but short winter days at Upper Makaroro. Then a huge snowstorm at Parks Peak where John and I both walked solo through a gentle snow in the forest, to a blizzard up high on the ridge. The new hut at Parks Peak, and in particular the stove, earned a few stripes that evening.
Yet another birthday, 2004, John and I once again. John is sitting out of the ever increasinging wind on the lee side just below the flanks of Te Atua Mahuru and looking down into the head waters of the Mangatera valley along the main Ruahine range. We had spent the night at Sparrowhawk bivouac when on the way over the tops from Sunrise the wind came up and weather closed in, and the little biv was a fine place of refuge and comfort. The next day was beautiful, but still very windy and extremely cold, even for July. From here we carried along to where we could drop down to Maropea Forks and the familiar loveliness of a spot we love gotten to a new way.
Nigel and I on the main range above Top Gorge hut and the Pohangina valley, and below us on the far background the Oroua valley back in 2002. A fairly ordinary photo I acknowledge but my favourite of Nige and I as it was the last time we were together in these mountains and he is the man who brought me to them. I was at my best, no hip problems, no problems at all. We spent 2 days waiting at Howlett's hut for the weather to clear so we could cross Sawtooth ridge, and finally just changed our plans and kept moving. We were young (relatively), and as fit as we could be, at least I was. And to be with Nigel and John - who took the photo, we were pretty confident and capable.
Finally, right now, I present my eldest son and I overlooking the Maropea valley just above Top Maropea. Taylor was only 12, and I was bereft of teen age angst and fear, I mean mine for him. It is when I look at photos such as this that I know he has been exposed to other impulses that might help guide him along. Like negotiating a Ruahine ridge on an inclement day.
Posted by Ruahines at 7:52 PM
Monday, November 30, 2009
The boundary of the Ruahine with Tunupo peak and the Ngamoko range framing the Oroua valley.
Gustav photographing the sunlit beech leaves.
Above a creek on the way to Heritage lodge, a lovely stroll of less than an hour from the car park.
Above the Oroua river looking west.
Gustav on the lovely veranda at Heritage lodge looking up the Oroua valley.
The view from the veranda, in the far distance the Whanahuia range
26 November 2009
The view from my bunk, the sun shining on the opposite face of the Oroua. Not a bad spot to wake up in.
A fine place for the first cup of tea of the morning.
From the hut to the river below.
Posted by Ruahines at 5:15 PM
Saturday, November 7, 2009
My campsite on Makieke stream (Coal Creek).
A little side stream which joins Makieke and rolls through the northern end of the flat. The climb up Knights track sidles alongside of the stream for a bit until steeply climbing away. The flat itself is by no means huge but certainly a cool place to roam and explore a bit, an excellent place to camp and one I can certainly get to with Charlie or Tara.
A lovely little spot in the Ruahine, a campsite of realizations.
A wee dram, mossy log to sit upon, looking northwest as the stream turns.
An interesting day, an emotionally moving afternoon in the Ruahine at a very elegant spot.
Sitting by the stream Listening to sounds of water, beautiful crystal clear pure mountain water. If there is a defining sound track to these mountains, for me, it is this Symphony, this soul soothing chorous which washes over me here in the moment when I most need to hear the Music. It is the comforting embrace of Mother Earth as she accepts my tears. I need this place far more than it needs my presence. Right now, with the looming prospect of never being here again close at my shoulder, I feel the closest to the very soul of these mountains as I have ever felt.
I have been blessed and honoured to have roamed in this place for over 16 years now. I have come to know the Ruahine fairly well, certain areas even intimately as is possible. In my heart and soul this is the most beautiful place on earth.
The forested spurs and ridges green, lush and steep, the golden tussock tops so brilliant to watch light play upon at sunrise, at sunset, at anytime really. The high ridge beech forest where the ever appealing but tenacious leatherwood emerges, on a lovely day with the gentle whisper of wind through the gnarly branches, the mosses and lichens pulsating and glowing, a place where Time takes on a different meaning. On a stormy day, in its own way, even more beautiful and a sign to beware ahead. It is the stormy days and nights here that are the ones where I learn the most. And of course, the mountain rivers and streams, each with their own unique and sublime presence and some of the places I love most of all in the myriad of possibility on offer. It is where the Whio sings.
In the world I can literally close my eyes and be here, Listen to this very sound. So I am never really far away from here. I have so many luxurious moments and memories of my interactions with these mountains, so the rich library I have accrued over the last 16 years, means that each day at some time I can simply reach inside me and recall, smell the woodsmoke upon me. I am Here. So should for some reason I never roam here again that is a sad and final thought, but one in this moment I can accept. I hope, of course, that is not the case, that within a year or so I am back here as good as new, but the possibility does exist. Perhaps it is just that this pain in my hip is also a reminder to breathe deep the fresh mountain air, to relish each sip of the cold clear water, to look sharply, deeply, and clearly at each detail with vivid clarity. To live this moment as if were my last. We should all live that way anyway. And if my last moment was to be here, I am okay with that.
Kaikawaka forest on Knights track. I always love the way trees of these forests seem to beseech the sky.
One of the rare relatively easy gradient patches on Knights track. It still is climbing but not as relentlessly so as in most stretches. As ever, the amazing tranquility of such spots in the forest reach out and stop in me in my tracks - and the opportunity to catch my breath as well.
If you accept it, there is so much energy flowing in these places.
Just below Tunupo peak
high on the Ngamoko range
Sitting in the tussock out of the blustery and cold wind. The tops just above me emerge for brief moments out of the swirling gathering cloud leaving only the creamy green flanks of the steep forest and the ribbons of brown slips below the grey veil. The sun pops out for brief periods and its warmth caresses me. When the golden tussock does reveal itself it takes on a rich golden lustre in the dimmed light.
I am overwhelmed to just be sitting here and part of it all. I have a little food, water, pen and paper and some extra warm gear. I could move up to Tunupo and get water at the tarns, even have a cup of tea or soup as I have brought my cooker and billy. But the gathering cloud and wind up there manage to keep that urge at bay. I am content to wait here and see. My little camp lies a few hours or so below me and I have all afternoon to return there.
My hip was still hurting but with much less weight and a few pills it was endurable. Never mind! I am here! Oh these rugged and wild tops! The tussock and leatherwood, the mosses and plants that cling to existence in this rugged sub alpine environment. I am seeing it all.
Looking north along the Ngamoko range, the tops cloud hidden.
Up towards Tunupo just starting to emerge out of the forest.
If you sit there long enough eventually a view will open up for brief moments. North again with the Whanahuia range on left, and the main Ruahine in the centre.
West towards the Rangitikei plains far below.
The little sheltered area I sat within teemed with sub alpine life, rich and lush and colourful, fragile yet capable of thriving in this unforgiving environment.
I am not sure what this mossy plant was or if I have ever encountered it before, but it was soft and silky and about a foot deep on a protected side of a boulder.
Symmetry, colour, Natures Gift. There was enough life and beauty in this small little area to keep me occupied for days.
Twisted and gnarled Kaikawaka with a large burl. The burl was completely soft and spongy.
A place I just had to stop and linger.
Back down to the stream and camp.
I took my time dropping back down through the forest stopping often to just pause and absorb the energy, to gaze upon the glowing splendour of the mosses and lichens as they greeted me and encouraged me to rest from my toils. It was a timeless day and walk, and encouraging that without the weight on my back I was able to connect with the high country.
Still as I sit here now by the river tending my little camp fire and ponder a future possibly without these moments I am filled with emotion once again. That I was fortunate enough at all to roam here warms my soul, the memories I have will never leave me, and in a way I am part of this place, these mountains. Just knowing this place is here, and others like it, or even more remote, more wild, with towering snow covered peaks, and raging angry rivers, that stir the souls of others as this place stirs mine. But none, to me, more beautiful. We need these places to simply be here.
The wind has changed to a quiet southerly and it has begun to mist as the night time chill of the mountain evening settles in. My camp is tidy and buttoned up. The rain splatters and hisses on the fire. John Muir once wrote, "never hurry through the rain" and I am not quite ready to say goodbye to this day. I think I will just sit here for awhile.
This particular dead Kaikawaka just stopped me in my tracks. It encapsulated my own feelings on a personal level dealing with my hip and concerns about my future interactions here, and also how the very soul of the mountains, of this wild place seems to be looking up and beseeching as to why we would want to alter them, attack them, abuse them for our short term financial benefit. Yet as this mountain wiarua or spirit pleads to the heavens, it's left hand raises a distinct and defiant message to the skies and the folly of man. In the end Nature will be supreme. So to Gerry Brownlee and all the corporate greedy money grubbing bastards, the right wing human centric plunderers, LEAVE IT ALONE!! May the wrath of nature spite you down should you lay one greedy finger upon it.
Posted by Ruahines at 6:27 PM