Sunday, December 5, 2010

Days Gone By : Farewell 2010 and Peaceful Yuletide

As I grow older I seem to measure the passing of time differently. The lessons of life, the mental and physical battles we endure, the daily grind of paying bills and raising a family, and suddenly that young buck who used to be looking back at me in the mirror has become my father. In the mountains it is easy for me to become absorbed by the natural rhythms of my environment - such as my poem Mountain Time a few posts ago. Not so easy out here, but I am growing and still learning. As this year comes to end, I look back on my favourite mountain moments, some no doubt quite ordinary. But when a year ago I wondered if I would ever return to the Ruahine, ordinary is actually pretty exceptional.

The smile on my face above, and just the quiet countenance I felt within me, says it all. It was June, a little over 3 months since my hip had been replaced, and Charlie accompanied me on my first journey back into the mountains. I was nervous and tentative, like a first date when I was a teenager. So to get up to Sunrise with a heavy pack and pain free and have the whole Ruahine to ourselves on a picture perfect couple of days was almost too much. Charlie came out and found me watching the sun begin to set and I was sitting there with tears rolling down my face. He just sat down next to me and didn't say a word. A little while later he took the photo above.

Charlie out on Armstrong saddle. Originally I wished he had been looking at me but as this photo has come through the year I have grown to appreciate he is not. To have Charlie there with me as I was reunited with the Ruahine was an honour and a pleasure.

Charlie on a section of the track to Sunrise when suddenly the tawhairauriki appear in this gorgeous little brimming spot, and you know the open tops are near.

In July my mate Gustav came over from Tasmania. We spent 4 days in the Ruahine, retracing backwards a few steps made years ago. Being kicked back above, tin cup in hand and wood gathered, being at a cool mountain spot celebrating my 50th birthday, being in the mountains again with a brother of spirit and soul. I love the wet upside down boots on the end of the porch, their work done. I will never take any moment in the mountains for granted.

It is places like this in the forest where I am just staggered by the presence of the forest and just stop to absorb the energy. There is a lot going on here.

I have been across this particular place many times, and always have loved it, the colours and symmetry. Before this July with Gustav I have never managed a photo, most often as the weather has been either raining, snowing, windy, or all the above, and this is not a place to stop and fall. You would not stop until hitting the river, and then most likely swept down near by rapids very quickly. So on this day I left my pack on the far side of the slip and carefully walked back out to where I could observe this view. A personal favourite photo.

A week before Gustav arrived in late July I ventured solo onto the southern end of the Hikurangi, the highest range of the five which make the Ruahine. I spent another 4 days on my own, again walking up on a perfect day. Through the forest the far off active volcanoes on the The Rim of Fire, Ruapehu, Ngarahoe, and Tongariro shimmered in the distance, the sunlight making the snow look like shiny glass. Aotearoa is a beautiful, but volatile land.

Just before sunrise in the high Ruahine, as the open tops meet the bushline, and in in this part a stunning Kaikawaka forest. The trees with this new blanket of frost and snow to me were speaking to each other, some mouths agape, others quietly listening or rolling their eyes, personalities and character revealed in the quiet early morning. The mountain lives! Mid July 2010.

The winter climb is almost done. I love the mountains best in winter. Wild, raw, enter at your own peril.

Charlie and the Ruahine. He is a well equipped mountain traveller. Oh, to be 8 and have those mountains out there to discover! I didn't find my mountains till I was almost 35. So these will do for me. I hope Charlie finds his own mountains as well, whatever, and wherever they may be. He will always be connected here. October 2010.

Charlie and I. October 2010. Overlooking the Oroua valley. We had an excellent day and evening.

The elusive high mountain forest Ruahine elf. Seldom seen but I spotted this one a few times for some reason on this day. He was just scampering ahead of me and I was lucky to have my camera at the ready.

The late spring north eastern Ruahine. Another view I will tire never of seeing. And to view it again a mere month ago makes that very moment unfold as I close my eyes. I spent another 4 days alone in the mountains, the weather turned cold and nasty, but I was Home. November 2010.

My favourite high mountain meadow. I have spent many days here wandering about, and look forward to the next.

Looking out the door of the hut by the river. The music of the river endless, joined by a water fall which can be seen falling down the slip face near the top left hand side. I have seen Whio fly down or up the river as I sat here or just outside. How can I not appreciate I am here, and that I want to return? I was smiling.

The mountain river. Soothing, restorative, yet temperamental. November 2010.

The enveloping high mountain corridor of tawhairauriki. A path I am blessed to have discovered and will always try to remain upon its winding path.

Charlie about to be introduced to the high mountain pool last month. I still smile and chuckle at this moment. November 2010 - a nice spring day but a very very cold pool!

In a few weeks time my oldest son Taylor and I will head into the mountains for another 4 -5 day mountain journey. He suggested it so how can I refuse? It is the best Christmas present he could possibly give me.

I started this place a bit over three years ago not really imagining I would have something to write about these mountains and wild places for as long as I have. What I have found within me is that each and every encounter I undertake with these mountains is new and fresh and fills me with inspiration. As does the presence of those who read here and the sharing of your thoughts which has also led me to your own places in this world. It is a very cool process, an enjoyable community from around the world.

So to those whom tune in here, Kia ora! Please have a peaceful, and nature filled Yuletide Season. Ti hei mauri ora!

Robb and the entire Kloss family