Parks Peak ridge back in 2004 or so, and a walk up that ridge in what became in places hip deep snow, only to arrive at the old Parks Peak hut, at best a freezer out of the wind, and a place certainly requiring a warm sleeping bag. Not quite like the comparatively luxurious quarters there now. I loved that old hut, even on that cold night. It is a bit easier to write in retrospect, fire blazing not far away, wee dram at hand, but it holds true. Where the above photo was lived, it was bone chilling cold, I had only stopped to put on some more gear, so I knew what lie ahead, and I knew what awaited me. I carried on regardless.
I love being in the mountains in winter. The temperamental mood of the mountains in winter suits me well. I love the wildness and solitude. I love arriving at a much loved hut and finding in the hut book no one has been there for weeks, or months. I love the quiet of my own company. I dream of this happening soon. I have had my nose to the proverbial grindstone for a bit, and I dream of a few days to myself, to renew my place in a place I need to come to terms with for many reasons.
Maropea Forks: A winter July trip with Gustav. We spent a couple days here, and on the second day I went for a solo walk up river. A few hours later the weather started to close in, the skies a silent grey, and the whole narrow world around me took on an ethereal glow. Just as I arrived back at the hut the whole place exploded into a whirling snowstorm. The wind blasted us in huge gusts and the snow swirled and then fell in gentle huge flakes, only to swirl again. Gustav and I danced about in glee, laughing and then silently gazing in awe at the power of this storm, freight train sounding blasts of wind rushing up the valley then unleashing itself upon us. We cooked huge steaks and sat by the fire, smiles upon our faces.
Winter 2009 : Heading into the mist, snow, and wind upon the Whanahuia's with John. My last trip with an old tired, worn out painful hip and I could feel every step.
" You, as ego , cannot change what you are feeling, and you cannot, effectively, try not to change it. There is simply and only what is happening, including those particular thoughts, images and tensions which you customarily attributed to the phantom thinker and doer. They persist like echoes, but as it is seen that they are just static in the nervous system and not the work of any central ego, they lose interest, subside, and go away of themselves. Hoping they will go away is just more static". - Alan Watts, Cloud Hidden - Whereabouts Unknown: A Mountain Journal
I need to go to the winter mountains.
John returning to Parks Peak from Upper Makaroro hut July 2008. I climbed up earlier in the day, and an hour or so from the hut it started snowing, and by the time John arrived late in the afternoon we were in a real blizzard. In this case the NEW Parks Peak hut, its insulated walls and flash new wood stove all were of comfort and building of my own relation to this place. Still, I could not help but gaze across to other end of this wintry mountain meadow and wistfully not miss that little orange hut and the many other souls who had sheltered within it.
Road end - coming down from Parks Peak to the road end. We knew what was snow up high would be rain far below, and where the mountain river rolls out of the hills to more sedate land, thus wider and deeper. The Makaroro above is normally a fairly easy cross, thigh deep and clear. Above, a muddy, wide torrent, but one I know pretty well, so John and I barged in at a good spot and battled across. The power and force of water is pretty awakening when you are in it, and only halfway across. Time to pay attention. Above we had made it, the car was only a few hundred metres away, and we were safe. Yet part of me wanted to cross it again and go back the other way.
I am a winter dreamer.