Friday, July 29, 2011


27 July Heritage Lodge, Oroua Valley
Robb Kloss
Charlie Kloss
I was on my way yesterday on the road and looking forward to a four or five day solo trip into the wintry Ruahine. A very cold southerly has blown in, and the snow was down very low in the hills, and covering the far off peaks in a shimmery glowing white satin against the foreboding grey skies. I pulled the car over and sat looking at the view out there and dealt with the thoughts tumbling through my brain. Then I turned the car around and returned home. I had decided to take Charlie with me. He wants to be in the snow. He was down in Wellington for the day with Tara, so this meant I lost a day, and also a bit of logistical reorganizing, but the feelings that ran through me looking at those peaks told me to get my son. So I did.

So here we are after walking into Heritage in the early afternoon and settling in for a big day walk in the morning up to Tunupo Peak and the snow. The southerly has blown through and the warmer northerly bringing wind and rain and easy low lying snow is gone, so some tough work lies ahead for the Chomper to see snow. I had planned to be far deeper in at either Iron Gate or Triangle on my own, instead I am here with Charlie, and that has it's own wonderful charms. We spent a while gathering, chopping, sawing, and stacking wood, and now the lovely confines of the hut are warm and cozy. We are joined by Mike, a retired gentleman who has put out a small line of possum traps a short way up the valley towards Tunupo creek, doing 'feasibility study" as he puts it. There is good money in possum fur at the moment, but it is very very hard work. Interesting how a cup of tea and sharing a warm hut in the wilderness brings out the good things about human company. I love my solitude and will always relish seeking it, but here now in this moment with Charlie and Mike it all seems right.

Charlie doing the dishes after a tea of marinated steak with Chinese rice and cashews.

Charlie has taken in interest in why I spend time out here huddled up with my little notebook, and picked up and my pen and book, and has graciously given me permission to share a few of his thoughts... " Charlie here. Sitting by the lamp here writing stuff on a nice night, though it is shitting itself outside with rain. I was thinking about my dumb brother and how we discovered he has broken the zipper on my new sleeping bag, he is the only one he used it. Now you can't zipper it up, which is sort of the whole point of a sleeping bag. Mike is pretty cool, his stuff was here but he didn't get here till late, so I thought he might be hurt or dead. Dad didn't seem too worried. It is heaps warmer in here now than when we arrived and the fire looks cool. Me and dad are about to have some big juicy steaks. I bet the way it is raining mum would love it so much as it is raining even harder than last time we were here, and she loves the rain on the tin roof. It is a bit quiet except all the rain, but still lets me focus more. THE END.

The mountain tawhairaunui reaching for the sky against the droplets of rain. The beseeching limbs always remind me of the mountain spirit Herself. Trying to tell us what we refuse to hear. Listen!

Robb: It was a bit more difficult getting my head around returning to the mountains than I thought after my last experience with Taylor. So I am surprised a bit by the notion which overtook me to change my plans and collect Charlie. Maybe the thought of being on my own was more daunting than I thought. But I don't think so, as the thought of being further up the valley on a stormy night in a smaller less posh hut still makes me sigh with a small tinge of regret that it is NOT where I am. Or maybe it was the mountain spirits themselves knowing me better than I know own myself. I like the thought of that for some reason.

Up onto the ridge. A couple days ago this all would have been covered in snow. 600 metres or so. We had a long way to go and did not get into snow until well over 900 metres. Still, the winter forest above heaves and sighs with energy, colour, and steepness!

Charlie looking for snow ahead. Not yet mate!

Finally! Nearly two hours after starting our climb did we get into any real snow still around. As a kid who grew up with Wisconsin winters, it takes a fair bit of snow to impress me. But through the eyes of a child who has NEVER been in amongst the stuff, it is a real amazing experience to observe. Especially when the kid has to work so hard, and climb so high to see it.

The hump below is the ridge to Tunupo peak we were climbing. A long steadily climbing ridge, which then steepens considerably when finally emerging out of the forest into the tupare and tussock. Gazing up at the route ahead.

Charlie got a fire in the belly once we saw a bit of snow. Climbing up with a big smile on his face.


A phone call to mum. The final push to Tunupo lies in the background. The weather up was getting considerably cold, misty and cloudy. Not too much longer from here and I pulled the pin to Charlie's chagrin.

The far off Whanahuia's on a stormy winter day.

Heading back down. A lot of work still ahead.

Lower in the forest the mosses and lichens began to glow. There is a lot going here in this photo.

An old familiar friend.

"Winter Ruahine"
The scents of the winter forest greet me
the musty earthy loveliness
assures me of my place here
the flapping wings of the chubby Kereru
like the forlorn song of the whio further below
and the gentle towering presence of the tawhairaunui
all familiar and real
like the aroma of fresh brewed coffee
or the Thanksgiving delights in my grandmother's oven
muddy steep tracks that never end
pulling us upward guided by the glow and shine
of the mosses and lichens
we climb to the tupare
to the snow
my child has never seen till now.

Charlie back below, a short few minutes to Heritage, warm fresh gear and hot drinks. It was a 6 hour effort round trip to get up there and back to see a bit of snow. I think he will remember this.

Robb and Charlie


Bob McKerrow said...

Kia Ora Robb

It is important to turn back, and go and fetch people we sometimes forget to take. Charlie will remember this all his life. These are precious gift we can give as parents. Well done robb.

Anonymous said...

"There is good money in possum fur at the moment..." is a striking line, for some reason.

Thanks to Charlie, he has a good heart. You can tell these things, when you read what people write...

KB said...

No doubt, Charlie will remember your trip for the rest of his life.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Well put, Kia Ora! I never realized being a parent means it never ends till I had I kid myself.
Just got back from the rugby - a fairly ordinary Bok team they trotted out. World Cup Beware! Interesting rugby times ahead Bob.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora LC,
Apt that your eye caught those brief words. Possums are an introduced animal to Aotearoa, no fault of their own to be sure, the problem is there are no natural predators or diseases to keep them in check. They ravage the bush like proverbial locusts when left unchecked. Not Unchecked in NZ means 1080 poison dropped over huge areas which wipes out a lot of stuff, like most living things, or at least those which eat it. It is a huge issue here in our small land, a lot of which is wilderness of some type, so at risk amongst various groups with different points of view. I see merit in all of them. Simply because I spend time in the hills and mountains and have gotten to know places in them. Not just collecting dots on the map. So I have seen the damage brought by these animals to native forest. The views of the botanist who decries the death of any plant or bird (what ever those guys are called), or those whom simply oppose the death of any animal, or the hunters whom consider a deer poisoned and not shot as a criminal offence. I find relevance in all that to be honest.
The point being is that possum fur right now is worth around 150 bucks a kilo. That is roughly the fur plucked off about 15 animals. Mike figured on a 30% strike rate off his traps, meaning a 100 traps or so would see you right. Alas, it is a young mans game. Not too many young ones are connected enough to undertake such tough hard work. I am celebrating my birthday in the very moment I write these words. I am, at times, comfortable in who I am becoming, mostly probably not. But if right now I was 17 once again for a just a brief second, I would buy me some possum traps and head into the hills.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora KB,
Charlie asked me on the way up the mountain how many tramps I had been on in the Ruahine, and I said I didn't know exactly how many but that I remembered something from every one of them. And Charlie stopped and said "I will remember everything about this one". I hope it holds true for him. I like to think it will. Kia kaha e hoa.

Anne-Marie said...

Great work finding snow, Charlie! We had some right here in Whanganui last week which was a thrill for me. Even though the trip wasn't what you had planned, Robb, it looks like you still had a great time.

Hope you and the family are all well.

Donald said...

Hi Robb

Great and memorable post .

I for one will remember it for a long time... so special what you've done for Charlie! It's also an investment.

And I suspect there'll be a few special moments, when he said something, or caught your eye, and these you'll never forget either!

Well done and thanks for sharing.



Ruahines said...

Kia ora Anne-Marie,
One thing you notice with young kids, is that when they say something or ask a question, even an obvious one, is they demand an answer, an acknowledgement, and will not settle for a nod of the head, a grin, or a grunt of some kind. That was the real treasure of my 6 hour walk with Charlie. He insisting I be Present without his even knowing. We did have a great time Anne-Marie, Kia ora.
I'll be back down in Whanganui soon on a regular basis during the day for a month or so. Last year I saw you walking down the street, I recognized the dreads, but by the time I turned around you had disappeared into the news building. Maybe this year and a coffee. Be well e hoa, thanks for stopping by.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
I think every tramp leaves something with us, alone, with great mates, or ones we do not even know at times,(at least as I grow older), or our kids. I gather something from each and every mountain encounter. I am not sure it is leading anywhere that will benefit me out here, but they are by far the most memorable and colourful parts of my short days here.
Charlie and I have a very different relationship than the one I had back then with Taylor. I also insist Charlie be present in terms of doing stuff at a camp or hut. Gathering wood, water, doing dishes, even planning the tramp and the gear we need. I did not do that with Taylor, I did everything for him. And while he still walked to some very difficult places, he never got the other stuff. Lying by the river not long ago, he finally started to Understand.
Kia ora Donald e hoa, kia kaha.

Tracey Axnick said...

I cannot tell you HOW appealing that snow looks! I don't know if you ever follow the weather in the States, but this Summer has been particularly brutal. In Atlanta, we have been in the 90s for 30+ days.... we went to the beach hoping to get at least a little relief (ocean breeze) no such luck! High 90s and stifling humidity and NO breeze.
So, as you can imagine, the thought of putting my feet into soft fluffy snow sounds LOVELY. :)

Especially loved the photo of the tree with the raindroplets... really beautiful... like something out of a dream.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Tracey,
Cheers for stopping by and sorry for the tardy response. Glad you enjoyed that photo, I like it to and it was a cool moment sitting out on the porch with Charlie seeing if was snowing. We are in the midst of a real Antartic cold snap, where the entire country is getting snowed on even at pretty much sea level, which is unheard of. There is a real air of excitement, even amongst adults whom have never experienced snow.
Hope you and your beautiful family are well.

Marja said...

How great to spend such a wonderful special time together.
At the moment you wouldn't have to go far for some snow. I bet you have lots of it as well over there. Gorgeous charlie writing in your notebook. Loved reading it.
I also found the photo with the rain drops absolutely magic.

Rob Easton said...

Dear Wild Brother, I have been sitting here for probably a good hour reading your posts. And, as often happens, I am in tears (good tears). I am speechless, but my heart compels me to try and find words, yet I know there aren't any. To say, "I see you." feels insufficient. To say your writing is profound, heartfelt, and deeply genuine doesn't fully convey what I feel when I read your words. To say that you inspire me to be more fully ME, more fully genuine, to stay my true course, doesn't express what your writing does for me.

Your writing is all that, of course, but so much more. I read it and KNOW who I am. I read it and see how far humanity as drifted from their connection to Source. I read it and feel an urgent need for your words in my own life, and in the world. People need what you write about, and how you express yourself.

The tribute to your friend in your latest post was so beautiful and intimate that it made me feel like I knew him. It was like I could feel his soul hovering around you, happy and grateful.

Then when you share Charlie's writing....that was so precious. I LOVED that. And the way he thought of Tara was so sweet. What a gift you give him in taking him into the Mts...AND teaching him to journal. You are passing on deep and vital traditions, the things you love most in life. No matter where his life takes him as he grows older, he will always know where his source is if hard times hit. He will know to return to the Mts if he needs solace. He will have an imprinted connection to his deepest core. Earth, Nature is the core of us all.

You are an amazing soul and I feel more ME absorbing your beautiful genuine expressions. I was so sooooo pleased to hear of your and Tara's plans to live further out. They will inspire Stephen and me to keep moving toward our dream too. Thank you my dear friend for all that you are, and all that you share here so openly, so generously of heart.

Aroha my Wild Brother.


PS: I know this is a lot of words, but it still doesn't convey how powerful your writing and spirit shine here. Rave on and on, always. The world needs your voice. Also, I was so touched that you carried my heavy book all the way into the mts. That brought tears to my eyes. And also touched that you understood how I became wild, and why. So amazing for me to be see on that level.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Robin,
It always brightens my day to see you here :). Charlie loved the photo of the snowman, but wonders how how you wrote on it in red LOL!
It is hard sometimes to write around the theme of loving Papatuanuku and connecting back to the natural world and the rhythms we should be living by, it is easy to do so when preaching to the converted, but when most of us have to also be neck deep in the world out here taking a walk in the forest, or climbing a mountain, or just being outside it all becomes more problematic. It is also why I have to escape to the mountains when the knots get too tight. So starting to untie some of those knots is becoming a focus on my life, my life with Tara, out here. To get a bit more control over what we interact with out here, and why, what we buy, and where we want to be. Of course this opens up huge areas to be examined, and gaps to close. But having the resource wonderful and kindred souls such as yourself, or Bill Gerlach, or many others, lets me know I am on the right path. Kia kaha Wild Sister and Rave On.