Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Festival of Trees

To the Festival of Trees:
The photo below is a few years old now. I took it after a few days in the mountains alone and standing a bit above a clear large mountain river this tree across it clinging to life came into my view. And in that moment became a brother from where I was at in my own life at that same time..
"Observation on the River"
Your flawed elegance astounds me
Ramrod straight
As if proudly displaying your wounds
Scarred by time
battered by countless storms
Your soul precariously exposed
Eroded by what also sustain and nourishes
Yet possessing a Strength
I cannot fathom
Holding onto each moment
Until you are finally claimed to join
The Dance of the Endless Flow
It is Me
-Robb Kloss, written outside Ngamoko hut in the Ruahine range, Aotearoa ( New Zealand)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mountain Whispers

11 Sept. 2010
Heritage lodge - Ruahine
Robb and Charlie Kloss

I have spent a fair bit of time here over the last year. A trip with John late in 2009 when we had to retreat from the storm ridden Whanahuias and find another way up the valley, then again in December with Gustav when I could no longer move well prior to having my hip replaced, and again with him last month after having it done and we proceeded up valley again. So to be here this evening with Charlie I feel very much at home, the clouds drifting over the distant Whanahuias, the sound of the river muttering far below us, and the dark green spurs running up to the ridges all familiar, all welcoming. Charlie collects wood and runs about, his energy levels still high and this is a fine place for a young boy to be full of energy.

It was a different sort of journey we did today. Sitting here now writing this I realize I was applying my experience accrued over the last 19 years, and more so somewhat wistfully at the expense of my elder son Taylor. Back in his day of being 7 he was pushed hard on young legs to places in here not so many young legs would have ventured, and because I was focused on getting him to some distant place with a heavy pack upon my shoulders I was not as aware of his needs, as patient with him, nor as observant of my own place here as I should have been. And though I know Taylor has many aspects of those trips still swirling inside of him, standing here now I feel a lump in my throat. The mountains were still growing within me back then.

Charlie in the sun in the lower forest

Climbing up towards the tops

Still climbing!

Charlie thought this would be a cool place to camp. It would be!

Climbing dead fall over track

11 Sept. Continued:

My plan with Charlie is to go a bit more tenderly, let him grow into the mountains a bit more slowly than Taylor and I did. Instead of just putting a pack on his back and pointing up a huge hill, or a mountain river and tell him to just start walking, why not let him experience these places on his own terms right now. We both carried packs into Heritage, 45 minutes or so from the car, then dropped off my big pack and putting some extra gear, food and water into his smaller one, off we went. I was just as excited as Charlie, as in all my years and visits to this area, I had never climbed up the track from Heritage to Tunipo, so it was all new for me as well.

So when Charlie wanted to stop and look at some big tree, or climb up storm fallen trees lying on the spur, stomp around in the mud puddles, or just gaze off into the distance, he did. We were in no hurry, I did not have to really worry about the weather, or what is was like up top trying to get across, or how long it was taking us to climb up, or even worrying about a route I had never been on before. When I sensed he had had enough we would stop and have some lunch and a long rest. Then turn around and go back to the hut.

An unforeseen bonus for me was how quickly I found myself in my mountain frame of mind. Carrying a very light pack I felt light of foot and spirit, the forest washing through me and I could just let myself be free. It was a perfect plan!

Up on the ridge

A seldom seen Ruahine Elf!

Same Swan dry, different boy. Taylor (7) and Nigel on the tops during a stormy day back in 2000.

I never fail to be invigorated by a walk in the forest, the energy seems to shimmer and glow, radiating from the tall trees and the moss and lichens. The feel of the ferns brushing on bare skin like satin as we pass through a grove. I saw Charlie stop ahead and literally pet the first moss covered stump pictured above as if it were a living creature, as it is. To see him get that, and respond to it warmed me through. You could stop at such a spot, and spend hours trying to count the different shades of green, the various types of moss and lichen and simply just appreciate the soft loving blanket they provide the forest.

I felt wonderful as Charlie and I walked back down through the forest, light on my feet, without the numbing pain and limp of the past. That never fails to amaze me, and a reminder to never take any moment here for granted. My thoughts drifted to the friend I lost this past week. Tanuvasa Shane Sitivi you always appreciated my love of the mountains, and we often talked of doing a trip together. We never did. Another lump gathers in my throat. I am sorry I never did that for you brother, I should have. So I walk for you now. May the gentle mountain breeze always be upon you.

Charlie did well. And the other great thing we learned is how far he can go and enjoy himself in one day. It opens up a lot of potential mountain exploration this coming summer. Stay Tuned!