Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dweller on the Threshold*

Cloud and mist moving in the headwaters of Pourangaki valley

" I'm a dweller on the Threshold, and I'm waiting at the door, and I'm standing in the Darkness, I don't want to wait no more". - words written by Van Morrison from the song Dweller on the Threshold and the album Beautiful Vision.

I keep Listening to this song, to this album. It speaks to me. I have two more weeks of frenetic paced, high pressure results driven work until I can escape into the mountains to regroup and gather myself. In these times of economic stress the strain from both buyer and seller is not far beneath the surface. The importance of what I do is trivial in comparison with most, yet it is the bread and butter of our ticking world, something I am not entirely comfortable with, but that is a subject for another time. So right now when I crawl into bed at night I imagine myself in my tent, or a hut, a mountain river running close by, a Corker stove crackling as the embers die from the evening fire, and thoughts of a another day ahead in the mountains.....


Above: Nigel and John in the mist and cloud below Tiraha

All these thoughts bring to mind a nostalgic recollection of my earlier adventures into the Ruahines beginning way back in 1993 when I first arrived in New Zealand. That very first walk with John and Nigel climbing up the steep Gold Crown Ridge and arriving on these beautiful rolling tussock tops, seeing crystal clear water falls far below, I was entranced, captured, as if somehow I knew my life had changed that day, and it had. I hardly knew Nigel, and it was first time I met John. Both are to this day among the best friends I have.




These are the earliest photos I have of my time in the Ruahines, taken on my second outing with Nigel back in autumn of 1994. We did a crossing of the southern Ruahines over Maharahara. The ranges are relatively narrow at that point and it took us about 8 hours to cross over where Tara was waiting for us with food and cold beers. It was another eye opening experience into traveling in such country. I recall Nige and I heading up through farmland on the western side in a persistent drizzle looking up very concerned at the grey and forboding looking hills above. I was carrying a rubber pack I used for canoeing in the Boundary Waters, wearing a very sub standard pair of boots, and a heavy cotton sweat shirt! Nigel was wearing blue jeans. And check out that authentic Russian hat Nigel is wearing. We had a bit to learn yet we headed on up into the mist where it began to snow. As the snow fell the sun also poked out in places at times illuminating the droplets of moisture in a myriad of colours that simply took our breath away. Once again I knew I had entered a place that was never going to let me go. Nige and I probably got away with making a few mistakes back in those days, bad gear, wrong gear, dubious navigation skills, yet we always came through and we always were eager for more. The Ruahines had entered my soul.





In the winter of 1995 Nigel and I began to explore a bit deeper into the Ruahines, still doing day trips though we had done a camping trip or two into the Tararuas by then as well. Something about these ranges to the north kept calling us back. We did a thorough exploration of the Ngamoko tops around the Knights and Shorts track areas. Beautiful steep beech forest giving way to twisted and stunted Kaikawaka before emerging into Leatherwood and finally the golden tussock tops. On our first trip we were stopped short of tops by wind and completely cloud hidden tops. I recall finding it very mystical being up high in that cloud and wind, knowing I was in some fairly serious country. We were climbing up and suddenly ahead of me Nigel stopped and as I came up to him a bit up the track from him stood a great Red Deer stag, in full glory as it would have been just before the roar. I have seen more than a few white tail deer hunting in Wisconsin, but this was something else. We could see the steam on his breath, then he turned, walked up the track a bit then silently disappeared into the Kaikawaka.

Our second trip, with pictures above, was on my 35th birthday, and I have celebrated each birthday since in the Ruahines, back then just a walk for the day, now for 3-4 days. We stopped where the Kaikawaka merges into the leatherwood and filled Nigel's now well traveled billy with snow for a cup of tea. I can still put myself in that exact spot with that cup of tea warm in my hand, above us a wonderful mountain world of snow surrounded by a flawless blue sky. Our equipment and experience was slowly improving, we were starting to understand what traveling in these ranges was all about. Our enthusiasm continued to grow.


Nige standing above the Pohangina river and Leon Kingvig hut, a long steep climb up the Ngamokos awaits!

Robb, just outside Leon Kingvig hut after a very long day.

Nige by a tarn up on top of the Ngamokos, a quick task to refill the water bottles in a gale like wind.

In 1996 we upped the ante, having decided that while doing day trips was a rewarding experience, the buzz we got being amongst such places would be better served by venturing further into the mountains, to some of the many huts contained in this wonderful place, and staying for a night, or even longer.

The first trip we attempted I found out later was, is, called the Apiti track, and is another crossing of the ranges from a much wider point than Maharahara. We would go in from the east side of the ranges, climb up and down, up and down, and drop into Pohangina valley and Leon Kingvig hut. Then the next day climb up to the Ngamokos and out to the western side via the now familiar Knights track. Once again we had a steep learning curve. Our gear and food were mostly fine, but we badly under estimated how much water we might need, especially me. It was a brutally hot day, and a lot of up and down steep climbing and dropping, and hell, even then and pretty fit, it is just a long way from the road end to Leon Kingvig hut. I am sure I was quite dehydrated when I finally stumbled down to the hut, and straight into the river where I tried to drink it all! And as I have since come to relish, a change of clothes, a cup of tea and some salty chicken soup and the world comes right, a very simple recipe. There were hunters at the hut so Nigel and I set up his tent a ways down river, built a little fire and had a lovely time. I was just buzzing. I remember thinking how I wish we did not just have to pack up and go the next day, that we should have more time here to wander and explore, and enjoy this wonderful feeling that comes to me. The next day was beautiful, though very windy and we battled through it to meet up with Knights track and down to where the beautiful Tara, with 3 year old Taylor in tow, once again met us with cold beers at the road end. As we drove away I looked back at those Ngamokos looking golden and majestic, and I was more in love than ever.


Nigel and I at Lake Colenso, perhaps one of the remotest parts of the Ruahines. Once that Leon Kingvig trip was under our belts we came into our own really. we started covering some fairly extensive ground, going out for days at a time moving from place to place. I developed a very cool rhythm with Nige, we became true tramping partners, from planning, to gathering supplies, to navigation and decision making, and that silent unspoken but very prevalent communication that is developed in such places. It allowed me to develop not only a lasting and important relationship with this man, but also the silence between us allowed me to find the Spiritual place that Nature and these mountains fill in my life. And I never once ever felt like I was not talking with Nige, he was always there. He still is.




Perhaps the greatest gift of having such a person in my life was the confidence it gave me in bringing my son Taylor, now almost 16, but then 7, on his first mountain tramps. Nige had, has, his own bond with Taylor, and to have him along was again a silent blessing, another pair of experienced eyes, ears, and hands to help guide this precious boy. And man we took him on some trips! Places not many 7-8 year olds would normally go. Maropea Forks, Parks Peak, Triangle, Daphne to name a few. Taylor earned his stripes. Now Charlie awaits as well.



Taylor, age 7, on way to Top Maropea.



Taylor and Nigel above Armstrong saddle in inclement weather. This was on our return trip from Top Maropea on a decidedly unpleasant day. Another group of far more well attired trampers appeared not long after this photo, coming from Waikamaka and a different direction. They were very impressed by Taylor's efforts. It was a proud moment for me really, and for Nigel too, knowing we had come from such humble beginnings here in these ranges, to confidently taking others.

Taylor, age 12, and Robb, on Camel Back ridge.

The Journey Continues! Kia ora Nige!

Aroha

61 comments:

kylie said...

hi rob
i dont know the song but i sure relate to the lyric!
the next couple of weeks will pass soon enough and you'll be back in your beloved mountains

it's lovely that you have such good friendships. a real gift, enjoy!

have a wonderful weekend

k

Kiggavik said...

Love Van Morrison's song. Love your stories of the Ruahines and your love of that special place.

ophelia rising said...

Robb, so beautiful. The silence is the most sublime partner; there is more truth in silence than in all the words there could ever be in the world. But the words you use here, the love and absolute reverence you have for these mountains, touch me deeply. I have been to places like this, where my soul is awakened, and where I yearn for things I can't really put my finger on. Maybe it's life I'm yearning for. But places like this bring about a kind of peace, and also restlessness, in a person.

Thank you for reminding me of this - these moments, this substantial and hearty existence. This thing that we must all, ultimately, call love, I think.

Robin Easton said...

Oh Robb, this was so endearing reading about your beginnings. The thing I relate to most is that you "fell in love". I know this feeling so well. Falling in love with the wild, often specific places, opens our heart wide open to all Love. Love of the Universe and infinite stars, love of the land and mist and creeks and trees and moss and ferns and simply love of Life itself. It awakens us to a deep healthy hunger that is only satiated by merging ourselves with these wild place. The resulting passion is so intense; it is equal to the great love and passion of any unforgettable soul lover. And it can move us to tears and ecstasy and connect us with a world so vast as to make us feel at once truly grand and insignificant at the same time. We know our place in the scheme of things and yet we thrive on the great mystery of it all. It really is without words (like our dear friend Ophelia says), but I know you and she understand. And yes, you do hear my laughter. One day I hope to have you show me those mountains. I am hiking several miles every morning and thought of you. Although the terrain is different I think you would love the high desert here, especially early morning or at sunset. It is sooo quiet and almost other worldly. Thank you for always reminding me of who I am. Aroha always, Robin

Donald said...

ahhh... writing that goes to the very heart and soul of what is so precious and important in life. Thank you for putting it so well Robb. The photos bring it all the more alive also.

Interestingly I too am moved by Van's words which seem to get me into a meditative state especially when I'm on our close-by Pisa range cross country skiing at night [like you I'm very fortunate to have a special, and sort of gentle place nearby too]. This is one of my favourites:

=====.... before, yes, before

this was the way it is was
more silence
more breathing together
not rushing, being
before rock 'n roll
before television
... previous, previous, previous

see me through....

Just a Closer Walk with Thee

Van Morrison - Hymns To The Silence

Maithri said...

Kia Ora my brother,

It is always refreshing to come here...

I feel your ache to return to your beloved ruahines... and I know the reunion will be a beautiful one..

I'm a big Van Morrison fan too ;)

To me finding love in nature is true seeing... To allow nature into our hearts is to find deeper connection with our own humanity.

I dont know how often i'll be able to visit your blog for the next few months my brother as I will be in Africa,

Know that my love and best wishes are with you, Tara and the family,

Sala Kahle,

Maithri

Bob McKerrow said...

A refreshing read Robb. Van M's words are so touching. I journeyed with you and shared manu of your sights and emotions. Your writing gets better every day. Have you thought of doing it full time ? Bob

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Kylie,
I have a feeling you would really enjoy the music of Van Morrison. Thanks for the encouraging words, and yes good friendships are a Gift. I did have a good weekend, hope you did too!
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Clare,
It is indeed an excellent tune by Van, one of many. I am glad you enjoy reading here, it helps validate my self indulgence in the Ruahines!
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Ophelia,
Yes, the Silence is a great gift. To have that, and share that, and not be intimidated by that is also a Gift. I have been fortunate to share that with Nigel, and now John, as well as Gustav, yet also to appreciate the silence on my own. The Quiet of Nature. It really is love Ophelia. Kia kaha.
Aroha,
Robb

Pam said...

Ah! You saved the best 'til last!It is so much fun reading these posts! It makes me so happy knowing there are people who experience the same depths of emotion and soul-soothing grace in the unpredictable grasp of Nature.Staff at my school were incredulous when I told them I often slept outside under the stars in my backyard when my semi-rural address made it possible to do so.(We are now renting a unit, and don't think No.4 would want to witness by tossing and turnings on the cement!!!)However, the camping tent is under wraps in the carport and it WILL be used.

Pam said...

...my tossing and turnings I meant to say.Lovely post Robb.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Robin,
Many years ago I spent 4 days in the Arizona desert, and I was amazed at the beauty, it stirred part of my soul that had only begun to wake up, the sunsets and sunrises beyond compare. I guess that is part of the reason I so took to the writings of Edward Abbey as well, as he found beauty in all Nature really, but it was the desert that held his soul. Such are the Ruahines for me. I would be honoured to show them to you, and I do! The thought of you walking in peace and quiet in the desert country brings a smile to my face wild sister! Kia kaha.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
Ah, Hymns to the Silence, a fine one indeed, Van's scat work you quote just genius really within that song. Take me Back another one off that set which always brings tears to my eyes. Van has a way, like a Whitman or Thoreau, in tying Nature to our lives - at least to me anyway.
Thanks for your words, and the honour of recognizing my place here on your fine blog. When I get down that way I will take you up on the offer, those Pisa ranges must be pretty cool! And the same goes for you up this way as well.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Maithri,
My thoughts are with you on your journey to Swaziland and the work you are doing there - I am humbled you even take the time to visit here. Your silence will be measured like the theme of silence of this post - that even though no words are being spoken many are said. Tara joins me in sending our aroha and thoughts. God speed brother. Kia kaha.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
I don't think I am quite ready to give up my day job yet! I'm not sure Tara would appreciate the timing. A lot of the things I was going through in my 30's you would have done in your teens, but learning is a never ending process I guess and it has been an interesting journey falling in love with the mountains. Glad you enjoy the post and the Van lyrics,certainly my favourite musician. He just gets me.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Pam,
It makes me happy to share these thoughts with you and those who care to read here. I hope I am creating something that I can enjoy when I can no longer travel amongst the mountains, and maybe even my children can look back on. And you know, getting these thoughts down makes me realize how I can sleep out in my own back yard and feel Nature. Just make sure you get yourself a real good thermarest and that cement wouldn't bother you a bit! Cheers Pam.
Aroha
Robb

Barbara Martin said...

Wonderful post of tramping the wilderness. Going to the mountains at a young age has a profound effect upon children. Myself, I went as a baby because my family always went to the Rocky Mountains every summer for four weeks and camped. They are a big part of my life, and from my own posts on the wilderness of the national parks I can attest to the connection to the cosmos. It is refreshing to become one with nature.

Greg Brave said...

Hi Robb,
Haven't been here for some time now... you know work and stuff. But upon return, and reading your last post I felt like I returned to this nice and warm place by the fire, with rain outside and wet tramping boots hanging over the stove.
Thank you for keeping writing.

Pam said...

Greg puts it so well...

Lost Coyote said...

Good post Robb, you wrote about a trip you took for your 35th birthday...I'm looking 35 square in the face.

I hope that I can look back, as you do here, and see as much growth...and see that I'm in a different place...even if I don't leave central Utah...

"great Red Deer stag, in full glory as it would have been just before the roar"

Great stuff, our elk and your stags, they live all year in the places we wish we could!

Lost Coyote said...

Good post Robb, you wrote about a trip you took for your 35th birthday...I'm looking 35 square in the face.

I hope that I can look back, as you do here, and see as much growth...and see that I'm in a different place...even if I don't leave central Utah...

"great Red Deer stag, in full glory as it would have been just before the roar"

Great stuff, our elk and your stags, they live all year in the places we wish we could!

sarah said...

greetings Robb,

it looks like you are just the person i need to speak to regarding my first potential tramp out in the ruahines over easter. I've been put onto you by Mike McGavin in regards to ideas for a 3 to 4 day solo loop tramp to huts somewhere out there, i can read maps and compasses but don't have much experience following routes/trackless areas even tho i've done a number of 4 day tramps elsewhere in nz, so was wondering whether you could recommend anywhere that has a somewhat established track (or at least markers/sticks/tarns/cairns) relatively safe enough to undergo on my own? i love the mountains and feel drawn to the ruahines for their wild unspoiltness, whether that is accurate or not, but going by what you've written i'm not far off. if i were to go i'd be looking at parking a car at the start and hopefully looping back around to it, i have enough time up my sleeve to spend 4 days out there. any thoughts? thanks in advance!

sarah

adam said...

We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic

Glad to read the account of two brothers and the place they love. Very glad indeed.
Love you, Robb.
Adam

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Barbara,
Yes, to be in Nature anytime is refreshing, and renewing. I love visiting your place for my virtual visits to the northern hemsiphere beauty you have in your "back yard". Those wonderful times with your family when you were young must be so rich in memories, but also in who you are to this day. Cheers Pam.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Greg,
Good to read from you mate! I have been visiting your place but I seem to have trouble leaving comments for some reason, they keep disappearing. In any case Greg, your words describe exactoly how I would want someone to feel when reading here! Kia ora, well written comment. I agree with Pam whole heartedly.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lost Coyote,
My finest wishes on your 35th brother! I have a feeling you will look back with far more completeness than I am here, the land you roam has always been, and will always be part of you. It took me a long time to find that connection. You are wise beyond your years already.
You would have appreciated that red stag, they are more elk like in size than the white tail deer I grew up with in Wisconsin. Good eating as well! They roam with such grace and confidence.
May we roam as well.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Sarah,
I would be happy to offer a few suggestions. I do have to preface it with two observations, one being that what I write is based upon how I travel, and what I get up to when in there. And the second is to always caution about solo travel - though I often do it myself. The Ruahines are very narrow really, so very prone to rapidly changing weather, always pay attention and always carry some shelter. That being written it reads as if you are pretty capable and I am sure the Ruahines would be very enjoyable for you. If it is your first experience there I would advise you to thouroughly explore an area that is relatively well marked, as opposed to wandering into areas which are not. Which is very easy to do. I will offer you a few options, as depending on where you live, east or west side, various entry points can add a bit of time onto your drive.
1. The first option that comes to mind is going via Kawhatau base on the western side and heading up to McKinnon hut. A very steep climb up to the open tops, but well worth the effort. It will put you on the Hikurangis. The highest ranges of the 5 sub ranges which comprise the Ruahines. Once on the tops a poled route will take you north east, Climbing through some wonderful golden tussock tops, and then drops very steeply to McKinnon hut. I would estimate a trip of 5-6 hours from the car. It is one of the most sublime huts in the ranges, a view to relish, good stove, 6 bunks. If the weather is good the next day my advice would be to day trip to Mangaweka, the highest point in the Ruahines. From McKinnon it would be a 6 hour plus round trip, not all of it is poled, at least the last time I did it in 2005, but on a fine day the route is pretty obvious. You could also drop down to Waterfall in the head waters of the Kawhatau valley and stay there - the most straight forward option there is Pinnacle creek, which lies south east of Mangaweka. By returning to Mckinnon day three you would drop down to the river then down river to Crow hut, only a few hours in all, but just a lovely spot on the river, a place to linger and enjoy. Or if at Waterfall you would walk down river, a longer option, and that river has 3 pretty closed in gorges so just be careful if going that way. You could also do another day trip from Crow hut to Rongatea on the Mokai Patea - which leads to Wakelings hut on the Waikamaka. To Rongatea is a steep track from the river, then poled to the high point and east to Wakelings. To return to the car is simply climbing back up to the Hikurangis and linking back up with the track going to McKinnon. Certainly enough to keep you going for 3-4 days in that area. Make sure you take topo maps.
2. My most favoured 3-4 day route is in the Maropea valley. Up through Sunrise on the eastern side and to Top Maropea - though if fit you could carry on to Maropea Forks, or camp on the sublime river, plenty of spots. To Top Maropea would be 3-4 hours, to Maropea Forks 6-8 hours. The Forks hut is a special place as well, and heaps of options from there for 3-4 days, Colenso and return, Otukota and return, to Wakelings down the Waikamaka to Waikamaka hut, then out via the Waipawa river, or over the tops and TeAutuaparapara and linking back up to Sunrise track - again only in good weather! Or just hang out at Maropea Forks and do lots of day walks, get to know the Ruahines.
3. Another area which does not get alot of traffic, relatively writing, is the Makaroro valley, just north of the Sunrise entry point. A 5-6 hour rather steep walk up Parks Peak ridge will bring you to the new Parks Peak hut, on a very unique upper ridge. From there you either drop down to the beautiful Upper Makaroro hut - a lovely walk and only a few hours from Parks Peak. From there you can walk down river to Barlow hut - a careful 3-5 hours, then out down river to the car. I prefer the ridge. Staying at Upper Mak also allows the luxury of day tripping up to the main Ruahine range, perhaps a visit to Kylie biv, or simply get used to the nature of the Ruahines up there.
4. Another multi day option is via Rangiwahia hut to Triangle, all poled and a cool walk beyond Rangi to Triangle, then another day down river climbing over a spur back down to the river to Iron Gates, then either return same, or walk out down the Oroua to the road end and get picked up.
Sarah, I hope this helps, and I hope you get out and enjoy, I may even bump into you some place! If I can offer any further service please advise.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Adam,
You understood this post perfectly, and totally. I acknowledge your under standing and I miss my brother Nigel. In the southern hemisphere we are you and the Lost Coyote. I honour that.
You are both always Welcome here.
I Love you as well Brother! Kia kaha! And Van, he just is the Man, the lyrics , the connection to Nature, to Abbey, to Whitman, to Thompson, and Tom Russell, let us Listen and Resist.
I love you too Brother, If I ever get to the country you and the LC live in, I am Looking You Up! Please do not disregard that last line. It could happen.
Aroha,
Robb

sarah said...

Hi Robb,

Thanks for being so gracious in offering sound advice and some great tramps. I'm heading to the doc office this weekend to pick up maps, chat with staff and just have a real think about whether this is something i want to be doing over easter. you are not the only person advising caution going solo and you are right, solo is never the best way i agree, but sometimes it is right for the present state of mind and heart. i've printed out your advice and will be studying it for the next couple of weeks.

all the best!

sarah

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Sarah,
It is probably best to get the maps and marry some of this information up. I probably would not advise, for instance, heading off the tops down to Waterfall hut and down river if you are not experienced in there, though the McKinnon area is a good one to explore. My first solo trip was there. The advice to not go solo is easy to give, but solo travel also can give great rewards, and also builds in a natural caution in my view. Things can happen with or without someone along, and generally being alone makes us more aware. There is an excellent book by a Kiwi named Aat Vervoorn called Mountain Solitude and I highly recommend it. Please stay in touch and let me know your plans.
Cheers,
Robb

Donald said...

Hi Sarah [via Robb]

You wrote: solo is never the best way i agree, but sometimes it is right for the present state of mind and heart.

I'm quite an advocate for solo for myself, and I have no trouble accepting it in others. However preparation is of the essence.

I recently blogged about a Cascade Saddle Search and Rescue operation for a solo tramper in Mt Aspiring National Park for many reasons, one of which will be obvious. You may find if useful.

Aat Vervoorn writes well on this topic in Mountain Solitudes - a book essentially about solo travel in our wildest places. One story is particularly pertinent, and I've interpreted it that our NZ mountains and weather are so raw that we have to be aware they are not the easiest place to get our heads together in when in stressful periods of our lives, but rather that we have to have our all our ducks in a row emotionally and mentally to travel in enjoyment and growth.

I hope this helps you, and encourages you to follow your heart.

Cheers

Donald

Donald said...

This is getting serendipity Robb! Yes, good advice and I too am not wont to discourage solo wanderings as the rewards can be profound.

What you said reminded me of another aspect in that we are more cautious, and we can follow this instinct easily by ourselves, whereas there is pressure from peers in the group setting.

So often solo I have taken stock and said to myself "this is not the day nor the time to continue Donald". But every now and then it all does add up and we enter the zone where dangers are turned into difficulties. Unrecognised the former can nail us, but once recognised and the correct technique and attitude applied we can then continue, not just on the mission, but on the journey of growth with glimpses of God [read whatever flavour you like here]. The trick is of course to eschew or turn our backs on society to gain balance and perspective, while we make sure our journey places no demands on that same society [not that I've ever detected the slightest rancor on Search and Rescue missions for solo travellers]

Cheers

Donald

adam said...

Your responses to comments merit equal time and effort in the reading as do the original posts that elicit them!
I admire your energy, Robb, and the tenacity with which you engage the words and those to whom they are directed.
Good action, indeed.
I count on the eventual meeting, dear man, and don't doubt it at all.
All the very best,
Adam

Gustav said...

Brother

Dweller on the Threshold is a Van song with powerful symbolism and the picture you chose of Porangaki is fitting indeed.

I too remmber our first tramp into the Ruahines. You had only just met Nigel and I remember that you wore a Madtown cotton sweatshirt into the mountains and it was compltely soaked in sweat as we proceeded higher.

Asta brother!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Don,
Thank you for so well summing up these thoughts on solo travel that have been rattling around my head. Your basic summation of Mountain Solitudes was brilliant. What a great book.
Interestingly I had never contemplated solo outings until the friend I wrote about in this post, Nigel, moved to Korea many years ago. So it was a real adult portion of learning how to do it on my own, and basically that was tackling what I was confident doing, learning from it, then next time adding a bit more, and so on. Amazing that when we are with others it is sometimes easier to get lazy or non concerned about things we perhaps should be. When I am on my own I find all my senses are aware and probing.
I am heading for a 3 or 4 night solo jaunt in a week or so, and I may have to focus on that a bit. Then I can share it here!
Cheers Don,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Adam,
A seed is planted for a future Harvest.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Gustav,
The very first overnight trip I ever did in the Ruahines was with you - amongst these early wanderings with Nigel in 1994. A trip I described above to Sarah, Rangi - Triangle - Iron Gates. A real learning curve there as well brother. We always have interesting times on our mountain wanderings - full moons at Top Maropea, snow storms at Maropea Forks, flooded rivers at Otukota, navigation problems, broken hands, lots of laughter, silence, friends (Nigel) emerging from the mist on the Mokai Patea after seeing not a soul for 5 days. The only cotton I take now is a tea towel, or in summer maybe a tee shirt to wear when the day is done. Lugging a few sweat soaked heavy sweatshirts in ones pack, completely useless weight, is a burden I can do with out these days. These are lessons I had to learn, I am still learning.
Kia kaha brother, we are overdue.
Aroha,
Robb

Lynda Lehmann said...

Robb, this is a moving account of the evolution of your wandering spirit, your skills, your friendship with Nige, and relationship with Taylor.

Your writing and photos inspire me, and always stir my longing to BE part of such places. It's a wistful feeling. But I will be happy that my cup is half full of such wonder and majesty as you experience. Even half full, my life in nature is very rich.

Thanks for your awesome posts-from-the-heart!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lynda,
You are indeed very "wealthy" in your relationship and interpetations of Nature. Thank you for tuning in here and sharing!
Aroha,
Robb

Lynda Lehmann said...

My pleasure, Robb! :)

D'Arcy said...

Robb! I love the vibrance of this post. Like a zesty lemon that has fragranted the air of the kitchen! Inhale deep of the Ruahines scent and let it fill your lungs.

I think they are your deliverance. There is a song ccalled "Our Deliverance" and the lyrics of it have been echoing in my head and reminds me of life's experiences:

Now we can say that nothing's lost and only change brings round the prophecy

Where now it's melting, the solid frost was once a veil on greener landscapes we would see

Beneath my surface the water's heating
And steam comes up and out the tears you see me shine

For every strange and bitter moment there was never a better time

For every pleasure exacts its pain

How you hurt me how you were good to me

Beneath my window a mournful train that makes me smile at my bad poetry

Beneath my surface a song is rising

It may be simple while it hides its true intent

We may be looking for our deliverance but it has already been sent

It's in the night fall when the light falls
And what you've seen isn't there anymore
It's in our blind trust that love will find us
Just like it has before

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'Arcy,
Almost every time I am in the Ruahines I stop in the forest and breathe deep that pungent earthy flavour of the lower mountains. It surely is fragrance in the air!
Thank you for sharing those lovely lyrics and thinking of me, who is the song by? I will have to Listen.
Aroha,
Robb

D'Arcy said...

Isn't is beautiful? It's an old Indigo Girls song. I haven't listened to them in YEARS! You know me, always listening to new records and indie bands, but for some reason i felt a familiar urge the other day to listen to them and that song was at the top of my playlist for them. They have such rich lyrics and harmonies. I adore them.

Jamie said...

Hey Robb, Your blog has an amazing ability to soothe the soul. Thanks mate. Must get into these Ruahines.

sarah said...

Hullo,

sarah here again, thought i'd pop back in to keep you updated on my decision, as requested. up until early last night i was ramping up to head down to the ruahines for my solo tramp, a tradition i began last year after a summers worth of multi-day tramps all around nz with different friends, but due to external circumstances (car issues) i have decided to postpone my travels until a later date. i was going to head down early - the tuesday before easter, and just keep a close eye on the weather, so if things were looking alright i'd head in early and come out early, but if not then i'd have the freedom to postpone for a few days and see if the bad weather would blow over. i was going to head for mckinnon hut and up to mangaweka trig as i love hitting the high points then backtrack and head to crow/wakeling combining day walks etc, all weather dependent. what with the changeable nature of conditions down there i figured it's probably a safer way to go so if things turned to complete custard it wasn't going to take much to exit the bush as i wouldn't be way out in the middle of nowhere. sound alright?

so, i'm a little sad but content with my decision. it's something i can do perhaps next summer or in spring (or winter if i find companions), but my dining room table is now cleared of tramping stuff that gets laid out for weeks before the event so i can go over everything to check and re-check i've not missed something out.

once again, thanks so much for all the invaluable advice (thanks Donald!), now i can utilise the time to increase in knowledge of the ruahines as this most definitely is NOT over. i tramp for the love of being out in the wilds as there is soo much gained and so much to learn about oneself when the noise of civilisation is stilled and there is only you, your gear and the elements on hand.


cheers,

sarah

p.s. will have to see if my local library has that book!

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Robb, you truly are where you should be in the world. What a post. Loooove the photos and how you are teaching your son the way of the mountains. His life will be enriched by your treks together.

I can't remember doing much with either of my parents and that has left a void in my life.

ROCK ON!!!

Cheers! JJ

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'Arcy,
Beautiful! You are awesome. Kia ora for sharing your place and your journey - and I love sharing the Tunes! Kia kaha my lovely friend.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Jamie,
Always good to "see" you here mate. Been enjoying your adventures around the North Island. Tara and I are talking about moseying on down that way in the not too distant future, maybe the Tony Joe White show in late April (25th).
You are always welcome to check out the Ruahines with me brother! Though my pace is turtle like in comparison with your mountain running, I always get there in the end. I am heading out solo in a few days, and also do an annual winter trip in late July or early August for 3-4 days. Have rarely come across any human presence in the winter in the last 10 years or so. You are more than welcome Jamie. Hope to see you in the near future.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Sarah,
The Ruahines will be there for some time to come yet, so, as Donald wrote, "if your ducks are not all in a row" then postponing a trip is fine and probably a good indication of your Listening to that Inner Voice. To be honest Easter is perhaps not the best time anyway, the roar brings out many hunters and the holiday tends to be a bit busier in the hills for trampers as well.
You read a bit like my preparations as I also get gear scattered all over and slowly start to pack my swag - almost a part of the journey really.
I think the McKinnon option is a good one for your first solo experience, plenty to do, good escape routes, and on a good day, wide open and a good place to use the map and compass to get to know the place.
I am heading out this coming Sunday or Monday for 4 days of solo wandering, camping on the tops of the Ngamokos then dropping down to the Pohangina river and wandering up to Leon Kingvig hut and eventually meeting back up to my starting point. A good loop trip and time to get that interaction you write about! Stay tuned Sarah.
Definetly check out the book by Aat, it is one I reread every year and it will certainly whet your growing appetite for some solo wandering. Travel well, be safe.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora JJ,
I hope you are right about my son. He has suddenly turned into a real teen ager and I am finding it a bit tough to be honest. I do need to get him out into the mountains and he does have a good base there. Reconnecting him with it is proving harder than I thought, just have to keep trying I guess.
I did a lot of sports related activities with my dad, football, basketball, ect., but Nature was something I really came to by myself and I guess accounts for some of my solitary bent. I have little experience to draw upon from my youth and father/son interactions and perhaps one the reasons I am finding it hard with my own son right now. I shall find a way! Cheers Jj.
Aroha,
Robb

MB said...

Robb, that's a song I've enjoyed for a long time. Your cloud and mist photo is a good fit for it, too. I love the fact that I can click on and enlarge the first photo in your posts to view all the detail. I often wish I could do the same with others. Just got back from some time outdoors where I saw some Roosevelt elk, bigger than those I'm more familiar with. Your Red Deer sighting made me remember how impressive they are.

sarah said...

thanks Robb, have a great time out there. it's encouraging to know i was on the right track with my plans and that postponing 'til another time of the year was the best option after all.

cheers,

sarah

Ruahines said...

Kia ora MB,
I must admit my ignorance in being able to set my blog up so all the photos can be enlarged. Hopefully one day I will get someone who knows here at the right time. Glad to read of your enjoying the outdoors and the wild life. I am sure I will hear a few red deer roaring on my coming trip, but hopefully will avoid those whom are trying to shoot them!
By the way, Van's new cd is just lovely. Cheers MB.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Sarah,
Thanks and I will! Though now I myself have had to adjust my plans as my wife has a load of work due for her university papers and so I am delaying my trip till Monday. A shame as I am missing some great weather and it looks to be packing in a bit next week. So I will probably readjust my route and head to Parks Peak and Upper Makaroro as it is a great ridge to walk in autumn with the deer roaring, and very well protected from the wind as well. Or if I get a late start I may head into Top Maropea and on to Maropea Forks . I'll work something out as I feel a need to be out there.
Cheers,
Robb

Hell Mission T.C said...

Just climbed Ngarahoe plus the crossing, very good weather, sun, cloudless and light breeze to cool ya off.

Reconditioned for our 120 plus trip in the Ruahines, our name will be in every book Iron Gates up minus Howletts and Daphne, Elis Poutaki Tarn Biv

Hopefully get to Smiths and Hinerua into our plan and Triangle Iron gate

the plan(short):Kawhatau Base-Maropea(you have inspired me to visit)-Ruahine Corner-Barlow-Gold Ck-Top Maropea(insired again)-sunrise-Smith Ck-Hinearua-Wakamaka-though the middle-Iron GAtes- Rangiwhahia-McKinnon- Car.

Also need to get back to Rockslide Biv-Shutes Hut-Comet but ya gotta save those for the next time!

Howletts and Daphne are our next time.

Very good, keep blogging and tramping, now you seen our plan your probably try to catch us!
7-10 days to do so. Bring the beers!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Phillip,
Wow, that is quite an impressive agenda mate. You will want an edge on your fitness covering that ground for sure. I reckon you will find Maropea a very enjoyable spot, same with Top Maropea now that they put in the new loo and tidied up the track apparently. I will head in there myself to check it out soon.
I have my pack beside me and leave in the morning for a four day trip solo. Decided to head to Parks Peak and Upper Makaroro, with a day trip thrown in as well, maybe scout a few trout or climb up high. Always like that ridge in the fall for some reason.
Glad to read you did the Tongariro walk, a beauty day for it all right, it is pretty neat up there. I did a day trip in the Tararua's yesterday just to stretch the legs.
I will look forward to reading about your epic Ruahine adventure mate, travel safe and well, good luck with the weather.
Cheers,
Robb

C.J.Duffy said...

I live in the flat county of Essex in England where so much as a bump in the road is seen as a hillock!
Fantastic sceenery, very reminescent of Scotland. You have a beautiful country mate.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora CJ,
Thank you and welcome. I have never been to Scotland but a few have mentioned similarities.
I have just returned from four days out in the mountains so am a bit jaded on the computer in the moment but appreciate your visit. I did enjoy some of Scotland's finest while out there.
Cheers,
Robb

PATERIKA HENGREAVES, Poet Laureate said...

Kia ora Robb

I really enjoyed your 20th Century beginnings of a wholesome love affair with the Ruahines. Your detailed imagery and pictures are awesome. Thank you very much for sharing your tramping experiences. It is so very wonderful reading about the gifts nature has provided for us to enjoy via any form of media.

Happy Easter to you and your family.

Cheers
Paterika

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Paterika,
I hope you had a lovely Easter as well. I am always happy to see your visits here. I think any interaction, including reading or viewing photos is good for us. It makes us look around, even if in our own back yard and appreciate what we are a Part of Being.
Aroha,
Robb