26 November, 2009
Oroua river flatsRuahine range
I sit in the sun next to the river, the emerald pool deep and vivid, the song a gentle murmur as it gathers before the crescendo of the rapid below. I watch my friend Gustav above me on a mossy boulder tying a fly to his line, about to cast into the pool and lure a wily trout to do battle. The sight of my friend enjoying this river in the Ruahine brings a lump to my throat. We have a very short, but relevant, reunion here in this place we have traveled together many times now. Only this one afternoon and evening. We must leave in the morning as we have a Thanksgiving celebration and Tara's 40th birthday to prepare for. In this moment I am most Thankful to be here.
We walked into Heritage lodge, had a cup of tea, left our gear there, then walked the 45 minutes down here to the river. Gustav is roaming up and down the flats trout hunting. I am just enjoying the scene, gazing up further into the valley, Tunupo peak on the Ngamokos high above and the sun drenched golden tussock of the Whanahuias at the end of the valley. It is beautiful and while part me looks wistfully with wanderlust, the other part is content right here.
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.
Gustav and I have been this way before. We came out via Triangle, Iron Gate and the old Heritage lodge back in 1998, the first multiple day trip I had done in the Ruahine at that point. A few years later he returned from the states and we did the first multiple day crossing of the ranges I ever did going via Top Maropea, Maropea Forks, Otukota, and out via the Mokai Patea where Nigel met us high in the mist with cold beers, the first person we had seen in 6 days. We spent one night of that trip camped on the Maropea in a one man bivvy as we ran into darkness and doubt. The next morning Gustav slipped on a rock slick with ice and broke his hand. It was only day 3 of a 6 day trip. That trip was a water shed moment for us both. For me, in realizing how much I loved this place and what it was doing to my soul, but how much I had to learn in order to travel safely here, understand conditions, and have the right gear. For Gustav, it was the whole direction of his life and what he was doing. Not long after he quit his job in San Francisco and moved to Tasmania where he still lives today.
Gustav returned again in winter 2005 and we went into the Maropea Forks area for another 4 day trip, a lovely one of full moon nights lighting up the surrounding snow covered hillsides in translucent purple light, and a raging snow storm witnessed from the warm and lovely confines of Maropea Forks hut, the Corker blazing and steak sizzling in the pan, wee dram in hand. We had learned a bit since the last trip.
So it has been almost five years since he has last interacted with the Ruahine, and indeed since I have last seen him. It is good to reconnect with old friends, to discover that even within the silence there is comfort and understanding and that at times there is no need for words. Judging by the contented smile on my friends face he understands that as well.
Above the Oroua river looking west.
A very likely spot for a nice brown or rainbow.
A man and the river.
A happy fisherman.
Gustav on the lovely veranda at Heritage lodge looking up the Oroua valley.
Joined by hut warden Jan.
The view from the veranda, in the far distance the Whanahuia range
26 November 2009
Really a perfect evening. One defining the meaning of friendship and Thanksgiving. We were joined on the early evening walk back up from the river by the hut warden, who was out deer hunting and fishing as well. Jan lives in the private quarters attached to the hut, and tends the hut and the trap lines put in for stoats and rats. He has a long relationship with the Tararuas in particular and is now in the Ruahine after a stint in Australia. He quickly noticed Gustav's high quality fly rod and they got into a animated conversation about trout and Jan set up Gustav with some gear to try in the morning. We had brought in a 6 pack of beer and a wee supply of fine whiskey and happily shared our bounty wth Jan, and the three of us sat on the veranda enjoying a beautiful evening, the colours delightful and alive, and the mood mellow and full of good cheer. Now the garlic and tarrogon enfused steak is ready to sizzle in the pan in the candle lit hut as the wood stove crackles. I think of the words of a Mose Allison song we listened to last evening.
"Mountain sheen, ocean shine
One such perfect moment
Never twice the same
Such a perfect moment
Will keep you in the game" - Perfect Moment, written by Mose Allison
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.
A stunning morning in the Ruahine. Brilliant blue sky, not a breath of wind, the far off Whanahuias glisten in the morning light. The lush green spurs running down into the valley perfect in their symmetry.
Gustav went down to the river early to get after some trout further upriver than yesterday - which Jan had spotted and showed us pictures of 3 hovering in the clear water. Gustav
indeed saw them but they were content and well fed, and just as they were not tempted by Jan they avoided Gustav's offerings as well. That is fishing. He did, however, spot a pair of whio that Jan had also seen and mentioned, and in my book that is by far a more successful result. They came to greet you and welcome you home Gustav!
I was content to linger here in the morning sun and enjoy the elixir of this day as long as I can. Just a wee taste of the mountains, and as I look up the valley again to the tops with longing eyes it is also fine to just sit here and linger in peace. Knowing what possibilities lie out there is enough for me in this moment.
A Happy belated Thanksgiving to one and all. Living in Aotearoa has made me appreciate the value of Thanksgiving even more. For no matter where we live we can find something to be Thankful for in our lives. Family, friends, and Wild Places to share.