Friday, August 21, 2009

Part 3: Forest Walk on a Wet Winter Day

"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness"
John Muir

2 August 2009
Late Afternoon
Iron Gate hut

What a perfect day. To walk slowly through the dripping forest along and above the river unencumbered by heavy pack or need to get anywhere or do anything. Freedom to relish in, and the quiet smiles upon our faces all day reflected that reality. This was our world today, ours alone to absorb and simply be amongst. I have no words to write sitting here in the candle light, the warmth of our little mountain sanctuary deeper than the small fire which warms it. There is no place I would rather be. That is both beautiful and melancholic, it is also the Truth.
To sit by the river and be in the moment a Whio lands nearby and observe him stand there whistling his tune and preening himself, sharing some of his day with me! The most special moment of all really.

Then to walk in the mystic forest with John. The myriad shades of green, some luminescent and glowing, others muted and silent, but all adding to the brilliance and miracle of this place. Climbing above the river and hearing her song muted, then dropping back down to full volume, reminded of her moody loveliness.

A mountain forest wet with rain. A bit above the Oroua river listening to a symphony of Nature's music.

Another little beautiful seemingly innocuous stream on his way to the river come to life.

Down on the Oroua where yesterday would have been a raging muddy torrent. A good spot to climb down from the forest to the river and boil the billy.

Cup of tea coming right up!

"Stormy Forest Walk"

The wind plays a melody on each and every
branch, leaf, and twig, she misses not one
Every fibre of the forest part of the serenade
it is all dancing and swaying to the Enchanting Song
Water joins in with its own sweet chorous
the unrelenting droplets of rain
like huge shiny baubles from the sky
splattering, hissing, dripping
onto the forest floor
joined by the incessant quiet plops
of luminescent moisture
from the lush green bush
fluorescent and glowing
The crescendo of the raging river joins in,
brown, dirty, very angry
soon dominating like kettle drums
Booming and symbols crashing in unison
until I climb away from her again
till she is a muted presence
in this Dance of the Forest
I slake my thirst inside and out
The Symphony of a stormy forest walk
in the mountains wet with rain
overwhelms me with the wildness
remote responsibility for myself
The mountain hut lies ahead
Warmth, Dry Clothes
The Billy to Boil
and the Rain
still will fall and bounce
off the tin roof
outside the river will still roll by
I am here..........

Another timeless spot in the forest.

The Ruahines always means Up!!

The forest wet with rain, mosses and lichens on the side of a beech tree, dripping water and glowing.

2 August
Iron Gate hut

The sun sets on another interaction with these mountains, the Ruahine. John and I enjoy a last wee dram, the fire crackles in the wood stove, and the hut is illuminated by the flickering candle light. John and I laugh and smile as we recall memories of trips gone by, soon to be joined by the ones we have gathered here. An ever growing treasure trove. These ranges are part of me, my heart and soul, yet the day will come when I can no longer travel here. That really doesn't sadden me for all I will have to do is close my eyes, open my heart, and I will be here.



Tim Koppenhaver said...

The Ruahine Range looks to be an amazingly vibrant eden. The size of the mountains seems similar to the Appalachians in the eastern US, but much more lush.

The experiences had on trips such as yours become strong memories, especially so when captured by such a well written blog entry.

Thanks for sharing.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Tim,
Haere mai - Welcome! Good to read from you and I greatly enjoy your fine place as well.
The Ruahines are indeed of similiar height to that of much of the Appalachians. The crucial difference being that the Appalachians in a geograhical sense are extremely old, they were once great huge towering peaks worn down by time and change. The Ruahine on the other hand are actually very young, still emerging at the great rapid rate of some 5 millimetres per year! Their youthfulness is also the reason for their steepness and erosion and slip prone nature. Both old and young mountains are beautiful in their own unique ways. I only experienced the Appalachians for a very short time and I loved each second. I miss as well the rounded old glacial moraines of Wisconsin as well. Huge mountains overwhelmed by a sea of ice 3 miles high. Pretty wild! Cheers Tim, happy tramping my friend.

Jamie said...

Hey Robb,

I have loved a couple of your recent photos of forest "spots".

Good on you mate.


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Jamie,
Cheers mate. I have been enjoying your trips into the Tararuas as well. Lake Colenso is well worth a look brother. Stay in touch.

Lost Coyote said...

Dry days at the end of summer here on the high desert have made my heart hurt for a storm...

I read "Stormy Forest Walk" and wipe a finger path of dust from my boots. Last night, I stood next to a small spring creek and listened to the remaining clean water trickle over the rocks...

Water, we are all mostly water, even in the desert, flash floods kill more tourists than thirst.

It's good to read that the wilderness in all its forms brings like-minded people together, whether it's a hunting shack or a web-log...

Can't wait to share some of it with's gonna happen at some point.

Thanks for the pictures and words.

kylie said...

i dont know why my blogroll didnt update to show this post but it didnt so i'm late.
you have some lovely pictures here.
i'm sorry to see you thinking of the time you cant walk in the ruahines but encouraged that you hold them in your heart


Ruahines said...

Kia ora LC,
Too true, though we both are listening to water in different forms our thoughts of it are much the same. Indeed a fine connection, and an important one as well. I believe it will too brother!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Kylie,
I am not sure what is up with this post. It seems to appear, than has disappeared as well. Glad anyway you managed to catch up with up with it. Never fear my friend, I am not ready to put away my boots quite yet, just acknowledging the finality of my flesh and blood against the ever changing but much more permanat mountains. My spirit will always be there - I hope!

Donald said...

Kia Ora Robb

"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness" by John Muir, is a wonderful way to verbalise the silence of the soul that we can get in wild unspoilt places.

Ironically they can be very noisy with the likes of rivers or the drum of rain on a secure iron roof accompanying us to sleep. But to those willing to be still and go inwards to the soul there is not only healing as a reward, but glimpses into the best ways to live our lives.

If we can hold these thoughts, [that are best not thought about], we will find we can bring this peace into our everyday lives. So there is a direct connection from wilderness experiences to the lives of those we interact with.



lph said...

Hey Robb,

I have been a bit out of touch the few weeks. After playing for much of June/July I spent much of August trying to get ready for the classroom (although I did spend five days in the BWCAW).

I have enjoyed reading about your trip. It is always fun to read about the connections one makes to seemingly simple things. The Whio is just a bird right, yet the symbolic significance of the bird can fuel your spirits for an entire lifetime.

I look forward to one day "tramping" through the Ruahines with you. It may be a few years as I try to save the cash so stay healthy and fit (and I'll do the same).

Take care my friend!

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Robb, what a beautiful walk with God!!! Great inspirational photos and post from a soulful spirit.

Have you thought about publishing your mountain treks? your poetry captures the heart.

How's the toe? Mine's still a pain but I am happy I can wear one of my pairs of sneakers now. Going up and down inclines hurts a lot or if I bump the sneaker against a fallen branch.

Have a super week and a beautiful spring day to look forward too!!! Our weather has definitely turned to fall and the colors are all over the place now but not a clean sweep.

Hugs, JJ

Joe McCarthy said...

The rains have returned to Seattle, at a time when I find myself in a process of disencumbering, and letting go of the [perceived] need to get anywhere or do anything. I sat by the window yesterday, watching and listening to the rain falling on big leaf maples in our yard, and was moved to write some poetry myself (though I'm not yet moved to share it publicly on my - or anyone else's - blog).
I love your opening quote from John Muir, which reminded me of a quote from Wallace Stevens: "Perhaps the truth depends upon a walk around the lake" ... or, adapted to the context of your post, "Perhaps the truth depends upon a walk along the raging river".
Your inspiring poetry, prose and photos remind me of a site for creating your own motivational poster that another friend recently used to reflect his interpretation of a verse about contradictory ridges in some crescendo of knowing that closes William Stafford's poem, "Representing Far Places". I don't know if this would be of interest or not, but I can imagine your words and photos being combined through this tool to further magnify their inspirational impact.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
I like to think of the mountains as being quiet but never silent. There is always a symphony of some sort playing.
I enjoy your words on the relationship between ourselves, Nature and those we interact with most. Very poignant in that in the morning I leave with my oldest son Taylor for 4 days in the mountains. In this moment I am feeling a bit wired and just spent a few hours chasing down a pack for him as my spare one broke a shoulder strap - which I guess is a good thing to happen now. Managed to locate a good friend with a good ol' Macpac I have used myself many times so take that as a good sign. Can't wait to get there!
Cheers my friend,

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Larry,
Good to read from you brother, I was starting to wonder if you had returned in good nick from the Boundary Waters and your silence sort of concerned me. Hope the trip went well and you share it at your place. A very significant natural place in my life as well as the Ruahine.
You are always welcome here my friend, a bit of tramping, throw a few lines after some mountain browns and rainbows, and hopefully experience an interaction with the Whio. Along with the Loon the most beautiful and spiritual birds I know. Cheers mate!

Donald said...

Robb, have a good trip. Thinking to do the same with my boy in the school holidays. He's still challenged by his life, so thinking it'll be good for us both to let a trip gently force us to be in the Now/Present



Lynda Lehmann said...

Ah, Robb, thanks for this luscious taste of the wild, in your gorgeous photos and text. I feel I have been there with you, made vibrant and more real by the sounds, rhythms, and power of nature.

Thank you.

gustav said...

Brother! Soon we will be chewing on legs of turkey and contemplating the unknowable.....yet feeling natures rythyms in our heart and soul.....

Marja said...

I enjoyed this poetic post bursting of love and beauty. Makes me want to go out there but i've got to work stil a few hours. Thanks and aroha

Ruahines said...

Kia ora JJ,
I have just returned from the mountains. My toe held up fine, though was a wee bit sore. It was great to be in the mountains with my son. Hope you are enjoying a beautiful fall weekend.

Donald said...

Robb, sounds like the trip went well with Taylor, so looking forward to you writing it up :)



Ruahines said...

Kia ora Joe,
Always good to read from you. I love the Stafford poem and the framed quote which was given to you. I will definitely have a look at the links, as I have a few photos which would be a treasure to me to see every day.
I struggle sometimes with putting my poems on here. I don't consider myself a good poet, as much as an honest one. It is what it is, and it means something to me. So I share it.
Watching the rain in Seattle sitting at a large window has a very poetic ring all on its own Joe!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
It went real well, we didn't get as far as I had hoped as my hip was playing up, but we spent 3 days seeing no one at all and it was excellent to reconnect with Taylor that way. The best way I can think of to find out that beneath all the teen age bluster and angst he is actually okay. I have a few thoughts I will no doubt be sharing in due course. Hope you are having a great weekend.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lynda,
You would love that part of the forest here with the green lush bush and lichens and mosses. Such a cool place to just wander slowly and enjoy.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Gustav,
A fine Thanksgiving shall be had indeed! Thought, contemplation, and action!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Marja,
I think even getting out for a short walk is a good thing, but I am very glad you stop by to enjoy a virtual one here as well! Trust you are having a fine weekend.

Maithri said...

Dear Brother Robb,

Once again as I read your words and see your beautiful photographs, I'm there... walking into the universe through the doorway of the wilderness...

Thank you for the light you carry and bring to so many lives,

Love and peace to you and the family,


Pam said...

Glad you could get away with Taylor and blow a few cobwebs away-When you sometimes can't see eye to eye, focusing instead on the horizon can be a wonderful thing!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Maithri,
I am happy to know you find a bit of peace here. The work you do for humanity is so huge, yet never seems to overwhelm you. You are an inspiration, and always a joy to see you here brother.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Pam,
It was a great experience to share with Taylor, and I will be sharing some of that soon. We surely did spend a bit of time looking off into the horizon no doubt! Thanks for your support and encouragement Pam!

Barbara Martin said...

Another poetic narrative with fitting photos of a lovely area in the wilderness. The photo with the path among the gnarled tree trunks and moss is especially wonderful to me. It speaks volumes of the ages gone by.

Thank you, Robb, for posting your feelings on your hikes.

Peregrina said...

Hello, Robb,

I was at Iron Gate hut just four weeks after you - saw your comment in the hut book. We had the place to ourselves - lovely. We didn't see a whio, but on the way in think we heard a male down on the river while we were crossing one of the spurs. I agree that the Ruahine always mean up! I'll add "and steep." I was told the track was "undulating". I now have a new definition for that word! The slithery shingle zig-zag and the root ladder on the steep detour, not to mention the slip itself necessitating the diversion, reminded us of just how unstable the land is, especially after rain.

The forest on that track is just beautiful, lush with ferns, mosses, lichens, as well as a great mixture of trees. Did you see the four giant semi-saucer fungi on the trunk of a tall beech? If I remember rightly, it was on the longest level stretch on top of a spur, not far past the climb up from the Oroua River on the way back towards the roadhead.

I photographed the hut stove, too. Luckily we'd taken paper and dry kindling with us just in case. Once it was going it coped with the slightly damp wood, and we dried plenty more on the rack beneath for the next comers.

Great to read your account and see your photographs, especially after being there so recently.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Barbara,
That part of the Ruahine is one of the most unique walks I can recall doing. Relatively lowland forest so it drips with the ferns, lichens, and mosses. It also contains many massive beech and podocarp trees not gotten to by loggers in the colonial era for an area relatively close to road ends. To catch it on such an amazing wet day was pretty special, pretty memorable indeed.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Peregrina,
Hope you found the hut still clean and tidy. As I wrote above it is such a unique walk, though undulating is certainly an apt word - amongst others!
That slip is not a place you would want to fall, you surely would not stop until you hit the river. We did see the fungi,and I think John took a photo, I shall have to check with him.
I love hut stoves and fireplaces, and probably take too many photos of them, but each one, like each fire is so special and unique.
Thanks for the visit!

Peregrina said...

Yes, Robb. The hut was beautifully clean and tidy, ashpan emptied, wood gathered, so the groups staying there after you had all done their bit. We hope those following us do likewise - or at least sign the book if they don't! (We had evidence that not all hut-users sign the book.)

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Peregrina,
Most often it is hunters, particularly those choppered in who seem to neglect the hut books, and leave behind the most rubbish and mess. I am not stirring just have witnessed with my own eyes a few such events. What gets my goat most about those who do not sign the hut books is that they will also be the ones to quickly justify reasons not to pay hut fees as well.
A hut like Iron Bark located a ways in but still not too far from a road end can also attract trampers who will only visit once, or are new to the delights of the mountains, therefore it is easier for them to lighten their loads by leaving food or rubbish at the hut. Very sad. John and I cleaned out 3 bag fulls of old food and crap, plus empty gas cannisters back on our visit. It is good to know the sight of a clean hut seems to motivate the next visitors to treat it with the same dignity and respect. These places deserve no less. My apologies in advance for getting on my soap box.

Ruahines said...

Robb here again Peregrina. Sorry I meant to write Iron Gate hut not Iron Bark. Iron Bark is indeed a fair way from any road end over the Mokai Patea, and as is Iron Gate, a very cool place as well.

Robin Easton said...

My revered Wild Brother, I have read this post probably five times since you posted it. And every time I tear up over the simple tiny line at the end of your exquisite poem: "I am here."

That is where the tears spill. For me that line says so much about you and the land and your undying relationship. It is a line that I will now used when I am hiking the mountains and high desert. I will stand still or sit under a huge pine and say: "I am here." I will say it over and over until all the stress of work melts away and "I am here."

And somewhere halfway around the world your soul will say, "Yes, you are Robin." And I will feel that. I will feel you with me on that mountain or in the rustle of high desert grass.

There are some things that only the soul knows, and "I am here" is one of them. This is so beautiful.

I've yet to respond to your heartfelt comment on my blog due to work this week, negotiating a book contract. But that comment of yours about Taylor and you, and your new family member, T, blew my mind. It is so worthy of great response, but then all your deeply heartfelt thoughts and comments are. You are a truly special human being. I cried over that comment.

Although I already know your soul, I look forward to the day we meet in person and can walk the mountain and talk and meet your family and share stories.

There is greatness in you dear Robb, and so much goodness. I am proud of you, your wife and family.

Deepest Aroha,
Your Wild Sister

Beth said...

I loved this post, too, Robb. You know, my father is almost 84 and he's playing the best golf of his life, on two new knees, walking the entire course. I've known Vermont skiers who skied well into their 80s. You don't know if or when you'll have to stop visiting your beloved mountains in person - it may be farther away than you think - but it's also so true that when we really allow a place to enter us and become part of our soul, we're never parted again. We're "there."

Bob McKerrow said...

Gidday mate! Finally got back to your blog. I greatly enjoyed this posting: the mood, photos and poetry. It's 4 am. The Muzzien calls for prayer. Ramadan is almost over. Life goes on.

Cheers mate.


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Robin,
No worries Wild Sister, I know you are busy and will stop by when it is right for you.
Thank you for words on "I am Here", I am not sure where that came from other than the fact inside my soul I know I am There. I will use that mantra as well, and you will also be there with me.
"T" seems to be adapting to our chaotic but loving household. It is pretty amazing to just see him relax and not be on edge, and see the little boy in him start to emerge. It is a heart breaking story, except it is not a story it is real. All we can do is open our hearts to him and hope it remains within him so those closest to him feel that.
I hope one day our paths cross as well dear Robin, if not in the green mountains of Aotearoa then the beautiful desert mountains in which you roam. In any case I feel as if it will not be a first meeting. Kia kaha my Wild Sister.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Beth,
That is lovely, and encouraging to read of your father still active at 84. My friend Bob who commented just after you also had two new knees inserted this past year, and by all accounts he is back to his active best which included mountain climbing. I have started the process to get a hip replacement in motion. They will have drag me screaming out of those mountains! Thanks for tuning in Beth.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Cheers brother, always good to see you pop up here! Hope your Ramadan season was a good one, I certainly know you have busy over that way this year. You are a top man Bob, you and your comrades doing the hard yards. I raise my glass to you once again. Hope we can catch up on your next visit to Aotearoa!

Anonymous said...

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