31 Dec. 2012, Parks Peak, evening: Just returned from a fine evening wander to the overlook above the Makaroro valley to watch the sun set on this day, on this year. Though the peaks were cloud obscured the shafts of light beaming down onto the valley out of the gun metal grey clouds as if using the last gasps of adrenaline and life left to them made it a much worth while endeavour.
Back here at the hut I settle into the evening as the hut is buffeted by gales and gusts of wind, and toast New Years Eve with my hut companions, Jill, Mandy, and Jim, whom arrived from far over the main Ruahine range and up and over the Makaroro valley just after dusk. That is a long day and they are quite happy to be out of the wind. It proves quite interesting as they are all well traveled with interesting stories and adventures, and turns out we know some of the same people. A few quiet toasts, they with fine red wine, myself, a few wee drams of Glenmorangie. None of us have any visions of staying up till midnight to meet the new year. A very different sort of celebration for me.
I too spent a day in the mist, sun, and howling winds swirling about the Ruahine. For the first time I arrived not by the long grueling ridge from the south, but rather from the shorter, steeper route from the north via Sentry Box spur. It is an equally grueling climb of 3 hours to where the spur meets the ridge, but then only another hour back down the ridge to here, and not the 4-5 more hours from the south. I do love that ridge via the south, but it is a very long day. I met only two people on the climb coming down. As I came around a corner I could hear voices above me, and when they came into view the guy said, "It's the Ruahine Rambler!". Not quite sure what he meant by that I stood below he and his partner, then introduced myself and he said, "I know, you're Robb Kloss who writes the blog, I read it." I had to smile in spite of my dripping sweat and heavy pack. Moving up a bit to talk to he and his partner I found they were emerging from a 10 day Ruahine adventure and had been all over the place. They did it pretty hard and I have to admire their toughness and stamina. Meeting Like Minded peeps in the hills I find a much more enjoyable experience now days, and Brinley and his partner, and the peeps I met later this evening are all validation of that. I suppose we are all in the hills for our own reasons but to find common threads and interests, and to open ourselves to learning from each other is both good for ourselves, and in ways, good for these mountains.
The Makaroro valley.
1 Jan. 2013: Early Morning: A new year has dawned. Yet I have sat here high on this ridge on many such mornings. Sipping a large coffee and weighing my options. The wind howls over and with it a bit of rain. My hut mates have since packed up and headed out towards Sentry Box. I could move down to Upper Makaroro and the valley, though the overcast clouds, wind, and rain make that thought slightly unpalatable. I could have a hut day here at a favourite Ruahine spot, go out and gather wood and render it, ect...What I think I will do is put the billy on for another cuppa. I have all day to do whatever I choose or choose not to do. Options....
Early evening on the Upper Makaroro: I packed up and left Parks Pack around noon. The conditions continued to deteriorate, and rather than ride out the gale and rain up there better to be in the relative shelter of the valley by the river. And this has proven to be correct. I have a lovely campsite set up by my old tawhairauriki "chair", and old flood washed log worn down down smooth and a perfect place to nestle my bulk into. The forest was ataahua (beautiful), with ethereal shadows and shafts of sunlight filtering down through the big trees, swaying and moaning in the wind, and then sighing with tired indignation as they settle back and wait for the next gale to rip over the valley. The sound of the wind lessens from the freight train howling up top, down to the eerie rustling lower down, and finally to a mere occasional gust above the sound of the river down here. It seems this section of Ruahine forest is most often stormy when I pass through, and I find I prefer it that way.
I was last on this fine chair two years ago with Pete and John on a similar summer journey. I can still hear a faint trace of Pete's quiet chuckle and John's more ribald laughter. The echoes are still here.
The forest track seems very much like
the mountain river
winding and weaving their ways
the tawhairauriki leaves guide me
sparkling like jewels on the forest floor
along the way
not unlike the crystal clear water
coloured only by her stones
the graceful curves and gentle bends
then bunching into places
of hard toil and work
swirling white water to cross
a steep descent or climb
above or below
not so different from each other
only that the mountain path
always ends by the mountain river
on it's way to the sea beyond
I love my little tent. The freedom, solitude and safety it offers me. I am happy to be ensconced inside it as I scribble these words. I have carried it around in these mountains for some 15 years. A load I am willing to bear. I used to look upon my tent as a necessary burden, against bad weather, messed up plans, full huts, injury...now I view it in a very different way. The best gifts are ones we come to know and savour..
2 Jan. 2013: Now sitting on the porch of Parks Peak hut, alone and quiet. The wind has now picked up again, after granting me a perfect late afternoon here. I even lie in the sun amongst the spongy mosses and plants, getting warmed in this amazing mountain meadow at 1320 metres. I have dragged in much dead wood, though without the saw I kindly left at Top Maropea cannot do much more. Except go for a walk.
It is the dead trees which speak to me most and the loudest. I feel them. They are now returning to Papatuanuku rather than taking from Her. They tell of their struggles for life, without rancour, without regret, scoffing slightly at the youngsters gathered around them. Only scathing of those who do not know or simply expressing the desire to be left alone. They Beseech the Sky. This ridge is where I feel and understand the Matataketake of the Ruahine. 15 years of experience in my tiny life has brought that to me. And the trees live on...........
A long sunset enjoyment of a place where I have enjoyed many. The tupare is in bud, the tawhairauriki glowing, the mosses hanging from her branches leaving me wordless. A stunted place where life clings precariously to each moment, where you can lean against one of the residents whose roots planted in the thin mountain soil let the trees speak and sing for themselves. The whole hillside seems to rattle and sway in the wind. If you stand still enough. I stood and Listened.
Ti hei Mauri Ora! Content moment wishes for the New Year.