3 Jan. 2011 Parks Peak - late evening
As I write this lying in my tent which is placed upon the lovely mountain meadow on which Parks Peak hut is located I feel content, relaxed, and relieved to be lying here. Pete has his bivvy bag located not far from me, and John is in the hut. I did not feel so content, relaxed, or relieved a few mere hours ago when climbing the ridge. It was a very hot summer day, very little wind, and very heavy packs. I would have thought my mountain foray last week would have held me in good stead, and expected it to do so. Alas, it did not. I struggled and plodded up the steep ridge, pausing for breath and rest, and it was not till just short of 8 hours from leaving the car that I staggered into this meadow.
It occurred to me that in this story I tell here of my love and travel in the mountains, I write most often from the hero's perspective. Travel is light and easy, the mountains speak and the rivers sing as I bound about. It is easy to forget the moments of doubt, or fear, or simply not wanting to climb or descend anymore, of running out of water on a hot day and feeling cramps coming on, or walking for years with a hip not fit for such activity. So today was a very honest day, a reminder that the mountains always hold the upper hand, a reminder of my real place here.
Yet upon arriving and getting into some fresh gear, being handed a cup of sweet tea, and then roaming out a few minutes to overlook the Makaroro valley and watch the colours of a Ruahine sunset with John and Pete. Those hard hours on the ridge seem like a long time ago.
John and Pete on Parks Peak ridge. A long series of climbs behind, a few more ahead. One of those days when I had to remind myself of the reasons I love these places, or perhaps it was the mountains reminding me.
* my ankle was very swollen, stiff, and sore. We wrapped it up and I hobbled off well ahead of John and Pete. The river eventually becomes a very wide and braided bed, much easier, if not a bit tedious, to walk down, and in about 4 hours I was at the car. Not too far a drive from there to the Onga Onga pub for a couple very cold beers. Kia ora John, Kia ora Pete, Kia ora Ruahine!