My favourite photo of what a Ruahine hut day in summer can be like. John, outside of Otukota in summer 2008. A 5 day trip with low rivers, sunny skies, hot days, cool nights. All day long to do nothing at all. I imagine this was late afternoon after a day of swimming in the pure mountain water, and not too long before a wee dram just might appear.
Gustav and I high in the clouds after climbing from Otukota hut to the Mokai Patea. Basically the culmination of our first multiple day crossing of the ranges. A self portrait aided by the first marker we had seen after getting a bit wayward climbing over a huge slip above the hut and losing the track. We then bush bashed through thick, steep forest up to the open tops on a compass bearing and this was soon after we found the track. The Waikamaka valley cloud hidden below and the territory we had traversed in the background. A very cool moment.
I have not been able to get out on my annual summer journey this year. I have attempted to twice but both times quickly realized the pain in my hip was too much to bear and I turned back. That is pretty hard for me to do. So I thought I would share a few more photos of my time in the mountains which will have to sustain me. Hopefully I will get a taste of the mountains next week on a short camping trip with Charlie. But until I get this hip fixed the Ruahines will have to live within me. It is just the way it is. I am not even sure what relevance I have here if the mountains are not the cornerstone of my words. I thank you all for your telling of similar situations and the improvement which resulted in so many lives, for your encouragement and thoughts from so far away. Believe me, I feel it. And in a positive sense I think of what that moment will be like when I once again hoist a load upon shoulders and head into the mountains on a deep journey, it makes my heart sing. Happy New Year to all, may the gentle mountain breeze be with you.
The above scene was from this year on the way to Iron Gate hut along the Oroua, it can be seen back in my post in July as well. Suffice to say the mountains were wet, the rivers and creeks raging, the skies grey and hanging low, and the forest dripping and vibrant. To the right water can be seen dripping off the trees. It is probably the best image I have personally been able to experience of a moment in a New Zealand forest on a rainy day, and being a tiny part of the myriad of colours, aromas, and sensations in such a place. John and I had each walked in on our own and I could only smile later on at the hut over a cup of tea with the rain beating down on the roof, as John described the exact same spot and showed me on his camera almost the exact same image. Communicating without words. Such moments I shall greatly miss.
Snow covered leatherwood and beech just outside Top Maropea. I had spent 4 days on my own at Maropea Forks, and returned back up river on a beautiful sunny day. By the time I got to the side creek which then climbs back up to here, a blizzard had rolled in. I climbed up to the saddle but knew if I tried to get across I would have died. It just oozed danger and forboding. So I returned to Top Maropea wet and cold and inside the hut the temperature was minus 7 Celsius. I had to get a fire going, and had no paper and little to work with, but by venturing into the blizzard I found some leatherwood and chunks of dead beech. I shaved off slivers into my billy and dried them over my stove, then breaking up pieces of kindling and larger chunks, and using a candle stub, worked my little fire into a great roaring beast, drying my wet gear, warming my soul - if not exactly the hut, and occupying my mind with a necessary task. It was a very cold night at Top Maropea, and the hut shook and rattled in the gales. Just as I was going to try and venture to the outdoor dunny I saw the roof of it blow by! The next day it was not until late afternoon that the wind died down long enough for me to cross the saddle, and even then portions of it on hands and knees. But it was all so beautiful.
A hot day, a mountain river, and men letting out the inner child. John in the Waikamaka river.When will I see you again? Perhaps contemplating such very thoughts on the main range, a cold windy early winter day.
And finally, the place I shall most miss - the back yard at Top Maropea. The portrait painted a new and unique way on each visit. This particular experience a blend of the majestic purple and blue hues with the perfect dab of the golden tops caught in the fading sunlight. I just happened to turn around after tending to Charlie's Cairn and this sight just stunned me. How long I sat there for I have no idea. Until the last light faded I hope. Isn't it beautiful? Thank you for indulging me once again. Hope you have enjoyed.