Friday, May 27, 2011

Hokia ki nga maunga (Return to the Mountains)

23 May 2011
Top Maropea
Robb Kloss
Taylor Kloss

I am once again in the back yard of Top Maropea gazing down the valley and mist shrouded peaks above it. This time, however, I will be venturing further into those alluring views. The next five days will be spent roaming about with my oldest son, who returns here after almost a two year absence from the hills. And judging by the fact that he, like Charlie a few months back, immediately crawled into the very same down sleeping bag and fell fast asleep upon arrival, indicates a lack of bush fitness and carrying a large pack. At 17 Taylor no longer warrants my back bearing the entire load, and it is good to see him sleep out of physical tiredness and the mountain air rather that tiredness of his more hedonistic pursuits.
We both need this trip, for many reasons, some our own, some to find each other. I have no real expectations, nor fatherly advice to give, except to simply be together in the mountains for the next five days. I am leaving the past where it is out in the world, and resolve to simply be present and in each moment with my son. It feels real here in the Ruahine.
It was a cold windy crossing of the saddle and I was thinking of my last crossing with Charlie battling those gales. He did so well, and was so brave. And looking at Taylor walking ahead I drifted back the sliding years to him in this same place at age 8. It seems we have struggled a lot since then. But I love my son, and I want to see him here. It may be the last chance and the last time I get.




Taylor just above Armstrong saddle and The Gut, looking out towards the Hawkes Bay plains.



Taylor and I on Camel Back spur overlooking the Maropea valley back in 2005.



Taylor, on a decidedly inclement day, age 8, 2001, on his first trip to Top Maropea.



Taylor, not far from the same spot, age 17, 2011.


"Thoughts in late afternoon at Top Maropea"

Surly and bruised grey clouds
roll over my head
fluorescent on the edge
opaque and glinting
of yellow and red
A painting is never the same
in any different light
Nor is the backyard of Top Maropea
when day turns to night
I'm here with my son
my son is with me
we have 5 days more
to simply be we.


Early morning 24 May : Taylor still sleeps, and has been, aside from rising for dinner and sitting by the fire, again so much like Charlie on his first night, for over 14 hours now. I let him sleep and enjoy the quiet solitude.

The day still appears to be deciding what to wear and soon enough we will head down to the stream and then meet the river and Maropea Forks. I have not been there for over two years now, as my last trip with Jeff and John in 2009 was just too painful with my hip, and in the last year since having it replaced I have not gone that way. So I am looking forward to the reunion, and walking the river with focus and joy, rather than pain and wanting to just get there.


A pair of Whio on the Maropea. A beautiful sight that never fails to move me deeply.



A better photo of whio, courtesy of my friend, photographer and writer, Pohangina Pete, http://pohanginapete.blogspot.com/ .



Lunchtime on the Maropea. In the late morning sun, bagels, salami and cheese. The river was in great condition, and we had perhaps a little more than an hour to go from this spot to the hut.



The last time I saw Taylor for the next 20 hours or so. A little blurry, but the last time I laid my eyes upon him this day. He wanted to walk ahead and I decided to get out my video camera and record some of the river scene, and see if I could go back and get the whio on film. There is a very distinct waterfall on the true left of the river not so far from where Taylor is above. From there it is less than 30 minutes to the hut, and a large orange marker indicates a track that cuts through the forks to the hut on the true right just before the forks. Taylor walked right by it.



The water fall.

Maropea Forks - late afternoon : Taylor is missing. He took off in front of me and when I arrived at the hut expecting he was here I found it empty. I dropped my gear and hurried down river towards Otukota twice now, the second time building cairns and leaving markers back to here. I also searched back up river to the falls thinking he may have slipped or been injured and I missed him but found nothing. I am having a short rest and will try to climb up to Point 1450 to ring out and notify search and rescue. I have to remain calm and think clearly, and hope if he is still walking down river he will realize his mistake. He knew it was only 30 minutes from the water fall. If he carries on down towards Otukota he is going to get himself into a very wicked gorge. This is real.




This is the view above Maropea Forks from the spur leading to Puketaramea ridge. The top branch is the west branch of the Maropea leading down from Top Maropea, the bottom one is the east branch, and Maropea Forks hut lies about 200 metres up it. Taylor simply carried on down the top branch and missed the hut completely. I couldn't get up to 1450 as the day turned to dark and had to retreat to the hut. I usually appreciate being alone in the mountains, but in this case it was just lonely, and thus began the longest and loneliest night of my life. There is a lot of stuff from those hours I just have to keep for myself, but there were some very dark moments. Just before dawn I awoke, very discouraged and upset. Then I heard a whio calling from the pool just outside the hut. It filled me with the first hope I had in hours, that whio was saying to me "Keep hope, Keep hope". My eyes fill with tears as I write this and remember. Later on Taylor told me he had heard the whio as well.

I climbed the spur above, using my torch to keep on the track and spot the markers just going slowly and surely till it got light enough for me to see. Then I carried on climbing to the ridge and the open high point at Puketaramea (1358 metres), and rang Taylor's grandparents as I knew Tara was working. Then I just sat down exhausted and cried for my son.



Taylor and Nigel on the porch at Maropea Forks - 2001.


I returned to the hut, and was sitting resting before heading back down river to search for Taylor, when suddenly he walked around the corner and up towards the hut. I shouted out his name running to him and bawling and we hugged each other tightly. He had done exactly what I wrote, and just missed the sign, and in his 17 year old brain just didn't pay attention and kept going. He did end up in the gorge, and not till then did he realize his error, turned around but ran into darkness. The thing he did do right was to stop and rest, and found the best place he could to camp in the narrow river. He had plenty of food, dry clothes, a bivvy sack, sleeping bag, and made himself a little camp. He then spent a very cold, damp and wet night on the river, as lonely as I was back at the hut. At first light he packed up his sodden gear and headed up river towards the forks and soon found the signs and markers I had left indicating the distance and times to the hut. I had placed them at the river crossings and marked arrows all along the way in the sand as well. He said as soon as he saw those he knew he would be okay, and that I was looking for him. He thought the reason I hadn't found him was that I was hurt and he was going to have to find me.



Taylor was cold and shivering and had been vomiting a few times in the night, so I got him in front of the fire and then went and retrieved his pack which he had left at the forks by my last sign as he was too tired to carry it further, and could see the smoke from the fire. Then we waited 2 hours for the chopper to arrive. They were quite happy to find all was well, and quite keen to ferry us out. As the weather was due to get quite nasty, I wasn't going to argue. I don't mind bad weather, but after his experience Taylor was fairly done in. He still managed to enjoy the chopper ride over the ranges. My thanks and appreciation to great crew of the Hawkes Bay Rescue Helicopter Trust.


Let me be very clear. This incident has not put any dent for my love of the Ruahine and any wild places. Taylor recovered well from making a few near fatal mistakes. He was not paying attention nor in tune with his environment. Out here in the world that can get us into trouble, in wild places it can kill you. He should have realized far sooner I was not behind him, and stopped and waited, then come back looking for me on the basis I might be hurt or need assistance. And thirdly, with his knowledge that the hut was very close to the water fall he should have deduced that far too much time had passed. He said to me later he just caught in the trap of going around "one more bend" thinking the hut must be there. It is not an uncommon occurrence. A steep ridge we think will end soon only leads up another steep point, or ground we think looks familiar is not. This is why being in focus and in tune is so vital. My mistake was not telling Taylor to wait for me. He did well when he did realize what he had to done to remain calm and then focus on getting a camp and planning for the morning, and staying as warm as he could. Fortunately the last good move he made overcame a few very big errors.

The mountains are very neutral to our presence, neither for us, nor against us. And though I feel a deep spiritual bond to the Ruahine, it does not mean I can ever take my eye off the ball, ever. I went back to the mountains with my son whom I have been struggling with. Taylor got himself into and out of a jam for many of the same reasons he struggles out here, and lying on the cold ground by a mountain river, damp and freezing, he had lots of time to ponder things, just as I did in the hut. What I found was this deep overwhelming enduring aroha for my child that I wasn't sure was within me. The Ruahine took my boy, and then she gently handed him back to me




Kia kaha!

Aroha,

Robb


42 comments:

greentangle said...

Welcome back, Robb. Glad this misadventure turned out well.

Marty Mars said...

beautiful Robb - so pleased all returned safe

Donald said...

Wow Robb

You've both been through an interesting experience! Well done to both of you re the outcome.

The trick always seems to accept the first mistake in what can be a spiral, so a 2nd, if it ever gets made, it is recognised. Then totally avoid the potentially fatal third eh!

Your feelings must have been intense out there!

Again well done on the handling of it all.

Cheers

Donald

kylie said...

robb,
your love for your boy is so obvious and i'm sure you have nothing to worry about with him.
congratulations to you both on a good outcome
kylie

Allan Stellar said...

Riveting story Robb. Thanks for sharing.

Couldn't help but think that the story of your son in the wilderness isn't a whole lot different from the world of cars and drugs and adolescent choices in civilization. Think of the wilderness trip as a metaphor for that very dangerous and precarious time of learning to be a young man. Choices along a river are much like other hard choices in youth (the most important one being to wear a condom). Seems like a teachable moment in a son's life.

Bob McKerrow said...

Taylor showed good judgement in the hills. With that common sense, he is clearly on the way to be an adult survivor.

I can only try to imagine the anquish you felt during that long and lonely night.

Kia Kaha.

Arohanui, Bob

Ruahines said...

Kia ora GT,
Cheers - it is good to be back, though I must write I would have preferred a different type of post, but upon reflection over the past few days, maybe it was exactly what it was supposed to be.
Rangimarie,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Marty,
I appreciate your thoughts, kia ora. They saying goes "May we live in interesting times", and we sure are, both inside and out. Kia kaha e hoa. My wife and I will be up north for Waitangi day this next year - hope to catch up :)
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
Taylor definitely got away with a couple biggies, but when it counted he kept his head, and for that I am grateful - and perhaps has a little to do with the fact he has spent a fair bit of time in the mountains. My mistake was to not prepare him better over the years in from the start the planning, preparation, routes, and emergency and contingency plans. He has always more or less just showed up at the kick off and shouldered a pack he was handed. That is not good enough. Certainly won't do that with Charlie.
It was the longest night of my life mate. Having to roll through my mind the different scenarios and plans for the morning, and just waiting for the darkness to subside. Hearing that whio is a moment that will also be etched on my mind forever. Part of what was rolling through my head was dealing with the mountain environment in such trying stressful moments and how that fit in with how much I love being out there. I'm still thinking all this through. Wish we could sit in a firelit hut, all safe and well, and talk it through. One day eh :)
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Kylie,
Cheers. The dead truth of the matter is that heading out there I knew I loved my son in some vague sense of the word, but in so many struggles with him I actually didn't like him very much. What I discovered is so much of what my mother has said to me over the years. That your babies are always your babies, and the paternal instinct does indeed lie within me. I'm not real sure that I even like Taylor any better back out here in the world after our experience, but I know that I do love him deeply. Kia kaha e hoa.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Allan,
That is exactly what I have been thinking. I have not said one negative word to my son, and in the hut, after getting him warmed up by the fire with hot soup and drinks the only thing I said to him was the symmetry between his struggles in the world and what just happened to him were incredible. In the end he kept a cool head and came out well, but to do extract himself from it, was made by 2-3 incredibly bad decisions. He said had done a lot of thinking lying by the river. I hope so. And I hope the lessons are stewing within him.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Cheers e hoa. I appreciate your words regarding Taylor, and I know what you mean.
Like I wrote to Donald above I hope we get a chance one day to discuss some of thoughts I had in that hut regarding wilderness, mountains, and the love we feel for them, even when things go wrong.
Rangimarie,
Robb

Tracey Axnick said...

Robb,
Quite a profound night, for both of you. I can't help but think of the similarities of the story of the Prodigal Son.
I'm sure you remember, THAT father struggled with his son as well... and that son came home to open arms and a newfound sense of love and thankfulness.

Different circumstances, of course, but that son also did a lot of deep thinking and returned home thankful and appreciative.

I believe this is bound to be almost certainly a positive "marker" in your relationship with your almost-adult son.

Blessings to you and your family.

Beth said...

Robb -- here now. Thank you for this painfully honest account. Like others who've written here, I suspect that this incident will continue to give insights about life, personal responsibility, and love to your son - not just in the weeks ahead but for a lot longer than that. Change and maturity don't happen quickly, especially in a world like ours today, and a lot of the sons of my friends have had problems such as those you allude to, and the parents have gone through a lot of anguish too. I wish all of you the best, and am grateful that your beloved mountains were gentle this time.

Joy said...

Wow...
I live on a sailboat with my two young children..I tried to "protect" them from heavy conditions while sailing, just as I protect them from harm in life..yet we had a pretty 'wild sail" and they came away shaken but unharmed..There is a special bond in these adventures in nature that then manifests in life.
This experience has deepened your love..with your son, with your backyard..with your world..Priceless:)

troutbirder said...

Oh my, So good to see you back blogging Robb. And what an outing. Scary but so glad to read all ended well. The world pales in significance to whatever happens to our children.....

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Tracey,
I'm hoping it will, with all my heart. I think Taylor and I were very close as he lie by the river and I sat in the hut, both of us waiting for the dawn. To hear that whio in the dying darkness, and then have Taylor mention he heard it as well, still resonates in me, still fills me with hope for my so, and for me. Hope you and your beautiful family are well.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Beth,
I can't help but have a sense that this place I love and respect so much did lift my son from my grasp, but then handed him back. A reminder of so much for us both, and a discovery that within my heart in those darkest moments I harboured no ill thoughts or regrets about why I love these places. A lot of stuff to work through, and hard enough emotionally even when he turned up relatively unscathed, much less had he been injured or dead. As if as well we have been given a bridge to something but not quite sure where the bridge is in the mist. Still looking. Kia ora Beth.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Joy,
Haere mai (Welcome, and cheers for stopping in. I always feel a bit nervous with my boys out in the mountains,and I can imagine on the sea that feeling is even more intense. But out of that nervousness comes learning what to let them do and experience as well, thus we all grow. I am sure Taylor and I will have a few things to recall from this last trip, and so much of my experiences with him when he was little has impacted how I approach being there with my younger son Charlie. I will look forward to visiting your place.
Cheers,
Robb

Donald said...

Hi Robb

Very heartfelt comments from everyone eh!

There but for the grace of God go I, comes to mind. I've never had to endure a whole night like your experience, but I've come close.

I guess the interesting thing to ponder is how Taylor perceived the risk not to himself, but what may have happened to your good self, as in the past you've always shown up at critical moments!

I feel a lot of good will have come from the adventure and the telling of it.

Cheers

Donald

Patry Francis said...

Oh, Robb, as a parent, I can't imagine a more agonizing night. I'm so happy and grateful that this ended so well for you and your son. Your final paragraph contains so much wisdom, honesty and love that I had to read it several times. In all our relationships, it's so easy to focus on the difficulties, the struggles, and to forget the aroha that is the core. Thank you for this beautiful reminder. Every blessing to you and Taylor and your family.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora TB,
It is good to be back. I missed this place, and I missed places I enjoy such as your as well. I wish I could have written of a more sedate experience, but hope this one will have lasting value for both Taylor and myself.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
I know have written here before to you, thsat quite often the most interesting part of this whole blogging process is the thoughts that come out of the comments, and this has proved no exception. Taylor told me he lie in his bag by the river formulating a plan to come find me as otherwise I would have come for him. Maybe the moment of transformation for him I don't know, but the words he used were "I knew no one was coming looking for me and I had to get myself out of this". I rather wish he had come to those conclusions a few hours earlier but there you go. For me the bigger questions seem to be looming in my definitions of my love for wilderness, mountains, and being away from the world, and reconciling that with traveling with people I love and care about. Perhaps I am more suited to solo travel. I think if I were to expire on my own in the mountains by own undoing I can accept that, but it was much harder to grasp that with my boy, yet I never held the Ruahine in disdain either. Until I heard that whio in the pre dawn morning I really thought he was gone. I have a lot to think about still. Kia kaha e hoa.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Patry,
It seems incredible to me how often I write of something and then visit other places and find very similar thoughts or situations. I read your latest post with tears streaming down my face, for you, for me, for your mother and father, for my son. It all seems so connected at times.
"In all our relationships, it's so easy to focus on the difficulties, the struggles. and forget the aroha that is the core". - Amene!
Kia kaha Patry.
Aroha,
Robb

Lynda Lehmann said...

Very touching account, Robb, and you are indeed fortunate to have a happy ending to tell. I'm glad that you experienced in full force, the love of your son, as you contemplated the possibility that the mountains could take him, to keep forever.

I have been on a road trip myself, but nothing as remote and rugged as your trek. I will make some blogs posts about it, when I can.

I'm glad you're both okay!

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

What an AMAZING post and photos, Robb!!! Really tugs at the heartstrings. I am wishing I would have had such adventures with my children when they were growing up. We were townspeople then and our activities centered around that. Now they are so busy with their work and we only see each other during the holidays. Do enjoy those special moments.

Blessings, JJ

Mike said...

Yikes. It's good to hear that you both emerged from this one alright. Probably one of those experiences that will never be forgotten, and hopefully good will come of it. Even very experienced people make silly mistakes, though, and as you've noted it sounds like it's already giving Taylor some enthusiasm and interest in thinking about what's happening around him and probably what he wants to make sure he has in future in case things go wrong.

Thanks very much for writing about it, too. It's not as often should be the case that detailed stories come out about people getting into trouble, I guess because people aren't always keen to talk about it. I know it could still have been worse, but I've seen more than a few in the bush who wouldn't have had a bivy bag or plenty of food or anyone so capable to care and react when they didn't show up, and might well have been much worse than just cold.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lynda,
I shall look forward to reading of your adventure! There is a lot still stewing inside me about those hours in the mountains with Taylor missing. I am not sure how to approach it to be honest, but I am content to think things through a bit more. Hope all is well. Kia kaha.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora JJ,
Hope all is well and warm up in the U.P.
I'm not so sure that was exactly the adventure I had in mind, and a more sedate trip would have been just fine with me:) Still, I do tend to feel that some things happen for a reason, and as I wrote to Lynda above, I am mulling much over. My best to Jeff, and enjoy all the weekends you can with family. Kia kaha.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Mike,
It could have been easier to keep this one to myself, but if I am to be honest and honour how I feel about such places then I have share experiences that may not measure to how I would have wished it had gone. Sharing it means I can continue to learn from it, and possibly help a few others, and also get valuable feedback from like minded people (such as at your place). As dark as I felt in the hut that night, I could at least comfort myself a wee bit by going over the gear Taylor had, and knowing though he might be cold and damp, he could be alive. Considering he might be hurt or dead were the real rough patches.
The whole episode could have been so easily avoided by the awareness and focus I wrote of in the post, probably on both our parts. I should have realized it had been a few years since Taylor had been that way and told him to wait. Hindsight eh! In any case Mike thanks for the thoughts, and the really valuable post at your place. Much appreciated.
Cheers,
Robb

Donald said...

Dear Robb

>Until I heard that whio in the pre dawn morning I really thought he was gone.

Sometimes I think we don't give enough credit to the wisdom inherent in wildlife! It seems to me from afar that at perhaps a subconscious level you long ago knew this, and in your time of need that part of you told you something.

I know myself that I've learnt the hard way that deer [trails] for example know best in the densest and steepest bush. The problems arise when we consider ourselves smarter!

>I have a lot to think about still

I never mentioned that one rainy afternoon on a boggy bushy ridge in deepest Fiordland I lost track of my son Dougal. Fortunately he'd had the wisdom to not wander off the indistinct logging sled path that it was and meander down into the worst the country could offer. For an hour I ran dramatic scenarios through my head and pondered our scant resources - 6 of us on a yacht, no cell phone options - only the ship's radio, and the nearest helicopter an hour's flying away or more.

Fortunately I only had an hour of it - my hat comes off to yourself for getting yourself through the night!

I know I still "think about it", and maybe this will linger for the rest of my life.

Cheers

Donald

Pam said...

My thoughts are with you and your entire family. Along with friends who have passed through the "parents with adolescents" phase,it is indeed a rocky journey and hands are always held out to help you over the chasms. Most have been there, and even if not physically losing their child, sometimes the emotional close-calls are gut-wrenching.
I hated my father. It was he that went on without me, missing all the signs of an emotional hut that offered shelter from the storm for both of us. He was not paying attention and we chose to stay in our own cold worlds of recrimination, only resolved when my first very young marriage broke down. Someone found my father crying for me and my heartbreak. I didn't know Dads cried. That is indeed a gift in itself that Taylor experienced. Care,love, presence...and never giving up.
I feel for your dark night of the soul, but know for every anguish there is a weak Dad joke on the horizon, the opposite end of the life-threatening scale that will also send a kid scuttling off into the distance far far away.
Here's to you, your family and all struggling Dads in general, bless 'em. So very glad to read here that you are all o.k. Robb.

Marja said...

Hi Robb What a story I think this experience might have learned you both valuable lessons but it was a superhard one. I cannot even imagen to go through a night like that. I know the feeling as I lost my son once when he was 4 in chch and he couldn't speak any english. I asked someone for help and the person thought I got a heart attack.
I also have been in fear after the earthquake as my kids were in the city as it took 4 hours before I heard anything of them.
Than you indeed realise how deep your connection to your children is.
Bless you and hope you can relaxe from this trip and the next one will be in harmony again.
I think to survive you had to trust that your son is all right. In normal life you too have to trust that he is going to be all right and he will. I know how hard it is as I have a 17 year old son myself who worries me a lot but I try to challenge it all the time.
Take care

Mary said...

Robb - this is just so beautiful. The Ruahines did, indeed, gently hand you back your son. So powerful and incredible, this experience, this journey. I'm blown away by your insights and brilliant thoughts regarding your (most likely) terrifying night.

You are experiencing life and the world as I only wish I could - in a beautiful and real and raw way, with an incredible journey behind you that you can share with Taylor for years to come. You are both lucky and blessed to have one another.

I'm so glad that you are writing again - you inspire me always, and remind me what it is to live life in the most honest and true sense.

Aroha,

Mary
xo

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
I have been away up in Taranaki but have just posted a few more thoughts on a new post.
I shall look forward to talking with you soon.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Pam,
Thanks for those very honest and heart felt thoughts. All these relationships with each other, parents, children, friends, all get very caught up in the fact we are all individual people as well. Having written that, in certain moments it gets very simple, like me in that hut, or your father shedding tears for you that he could not share with you. Kia kaha e hoa.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Marja,
I have been thinking of you and the folk down in CHCH since this last round of quakes. Very similar feelings, and my heart goes out to all those affected down there. Those feelings of worry about the children, jobs, schools, homes, and the concern about loved ones being safe must be overwhelming. I had a small taste of that with Taylor and has knocked me around pretty good. Kia kaha e hoa.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Mary,
I am always glad to see your name pop up here, especially after a period of absence. As I wrote above I shared some thoughts in a new post partly inspired by reading your comment and the thoughts that came to me. My aroha and hugs to you and your family. Truly. Kia kaha.
Aroha,
Robb

KB said...

I have made mistakes like Taylor and the mountains have forgiven me. They've let me live on despite my errors. I am so grateful that the same happened for Taylor. And, there is no doubt that his clear-headed decision to camp for the night was the turning point that likely saved him.

I cannot conceive of what that night must have been like for you. But, the thought that both you and Taylor heard the same Whio at dawn sends shivers up my spine.

Part of what I love about the mountains and wilderness is that slim margin for error and having only myself to rely upon. However, when it threatens those whom I'm supposed to be taking care of (in my case, that's usually my dogs), I can be brought to my knees in an instant.

Your thought that the mountains don't care if we live or die is so very true. I love the mountains but I know the risks.

I wish that I'd read your post a long time ago so that I'd known what had been going on. I am thinking of you, and I'll continue to do so on my "adventures" - another lesson learned for me.

Your friend,
KB

Ruahines said...

Kia ora KB,
The lessons from this will long roll thru me. I have mentioned before to you but I have always longed for a canine friend to accompany me in the mountains. We are indeed still responsible for their welfare, but I think perhaps in the wilderness it is they who become responsible for us. The intution, knowledge, and guidance on offer from them would be far more relevant than ours to "us" keeping them safe. There are more than a few stories here in NZ of old day mountain explorers, and how their canine friends saved their bacon on more than one occasion, particularly in finding routes through rugged terrain. Usually the "route" would involve deer trails, which at times would take twists and turns most humans would reject, yet the furry guides would follow without doubt, and were always proved correct. I love that. Kia kaha KB, you rock!
Aroha,
Robb

Joe McCarthy said...

Robb: I am glad to see you blogging again - however often that may be - and to learn that this journey with your son turned out well ... or at least did not turn out catastrophically.

As in so much of what you write, I was reminded of a poem. This time, it is a poem by David Wagoner ("Lost") that I first heard recited by David Whyte (whom I've mentioned here before). It's a short poem, so I'll share it here in its entirety:

Stand still. The trees ahead
and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here.
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger.
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers.
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it you may come back again.
saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you.
You art surely lost. Stand still.
The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

I am glad you have re-found the forest, and that the forest found Taylor.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Joe,
Sorry for the long delay in replying. I love this poem,and as I wrote to you via email, I don't recall and can't find going back a ways, that you had posted it prior. And in any case it is far more relevant now, then it would have been before. Interesting as well, it struck within that that is the relationship I strive for in the mountains, or the Ruahine, one where I am never "not found" because I am perfectly comfortable, able, and equipped, to BE exactly where I am. Kia ora for sharing it, and I in turn will no doubt share it again. Kia kaha e hoa.
Aroha,
Robb