Sunday, March 16, 2008

I Need to listen to Ry Cooder

I face a long and busy week, my most stressful of the year in a period leading up to to what I know I am exactly up against. I should be perhaps be at peace with this dead line driven part of my life, and maybe I am. Sitting here on Sunday evening with the next four days looming over me is a different picture. Yet I cannot help but laugh. It is what it is, and part of my life currently that must be dealt to, and will be done. When Tara finishes her studies it will be my turn to go explore a different, and more spiritually rewarding path. I will continue my search for finding a love of what I must do to bring in cash flow and actually really enjoying that task. Something that has eluded me thus far. I have to find those moments elsewhere. My family, friends,music, and of course, the Ruahine ranges.

I just received more photos from my treasured mate Nigel of our Ruahine ventures. I just want to post some of them, mainly so I can return here during the next week to look at them and remind myself of what awaits. To calm myself. I often return to Pohangina Pete's blog, for interesting reading and beautiful photos - many of the Ruahine. There is a link to his site at the bottom of this page. The week following Easter I am off with my son Taylor for four days in the Ruahine ranges! Though I feel some trepidation about that is well, it is a far more palatable scenario than these next 4 days. And all too soon they shall pass and I will breath the mountain air!

Taylor and his mate Ethan on Camel Back ridge - between Sunrise and Top Maropea and thus named by Taylor who has traversed it 4 times now, so has that right. This photo was taken a few years ago and Taylor and Ethan, now at Boys High, no longer are close mates, as teen age boys often find different directions. We traveled with Ethan a few times. 0n this trip we carried on to Maropea Forks and stayed there a few nights. I was glad to see that since then in the hut book that Ethan has returned with his own father. Above was his first trip into the Ruahine. I am glad to see the Ruahine impacted him in a fine way.

Gustav and I on our first visit to Maropea Forks, winter 2000. Freezing cold outside but oh so cozy with the corker blazing inside the hut. We had spent the previous night crammed into Gustav's one man bivvy along the river when we got caught by darkness. We awoke to frozen boots, hoar frost, and icy rocks. Gustav slipped and broke his hand - as it later turned out. Then we arrived at Maropea Forks, to a beautiful sunny day at this wonderful spot. What lessons were learned on that trip, on every trip.

This is Maropea Forks hut, circa 2000. The river has since changed course dramatically, and has now gouged out the shingle, grass, and trees to within 10 metres, perhaps less, of the hut. The Department of Conservation is supposedly looking at ways of stabilizing the erosion, but outside of moving the hut, I see little in the way of hoping to win this war. I suppose that is the way of nature. Yet this is a very meaningful place to many. To see the erosion in a better view from this past summer, see my Summer Wanderings 2008 post.

Above is a photo Nigel captured at sunrise while at Howlett's hut. Everything looks smooth and inviting, but not quite reality. George lowe, from the Hawkes Bay, cut his teeth on these ranges, and made mince meat out of them really. There was an air crash in the late 1940's near this hut, and lowe was called on upon after "police" led searches came up short. He found the wreckage and bodies absorbed by the leatherwood belt, and was actually criticized for not bringing out the bodies straight away. In the end huge amounts of man effort and rough tracks had to be cut in along the 0roua river to get the remains out. George went on to be as big a presence, in my humble opinion, as Hillary in the annals of New Zealand mountaineering. What a cool photo of an exceptional Ruahine spot. This one alone sends me to very calm place.

Rick and I are behind Wakelings hut on the Waikamaka river. As can be seen by its colour it was up and angry - certainly in comparison to our summer trip this past year! There would have no getting up or down the river in this state, and even getting across it after arriving from Maropea Forks was a bit dicey. But after settling in, getting a warm fire going, and finally having the rain stop after 50 some hours things were looking up. And with a wee small dram in the tin cups it was even better.

The last photo is lake Colenso - my apologies as my capital l does not work - way deep in the Ruahine and a very spiritual place in my opinion.

This is an aerial photo of Colenso : New Zealand Aerial Mapping: Survey 5752, Photo M/30, Scale 1:2500, Flown 14/10/80. The hut lies in the bottom right of the photo, obscured by trees, and the track is up above the lake and can be seen as a dark squiggly line in the bottom third of the photo. The Mangatera river meanders on by. This is a rugged area, a long way to get to from any direction. It is surrounded by bluffs and cliffs and the whole area is a natural basin, and holds very unique flora and fauna.

Well that should tide me through the next few days. A place from time to time to remind myself of another place so important to me and so far removed from the stresses and trivialities of dead lines and the like. I will sign off with a last photo below - up high on Parks Peak ridge, I spent 8 hours plugging steps through thigh deep snow and arrived at Parks Peak - which was much like sheltering inside a freezer! I did get the corker going, but it is a tough spot to find dry wood in winter, thank god for my down sleeping bag. It was minus 9 Celsius in the hut the next morning.
Still, looking back now, a thoroughly enjoyable solo experience.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Drinking Deeply

I first off apologize for any typos or mistakes in advance. Charlie recently spilled apple juice on the keyboard, and after drying out in pieces, still has resulted in sticky or simply non performing keys.
What an interesting weekend this has been thus far. I received a call last weekend from an old friend of mine, Adam, whom I met here in New Zealand through our common work back in 2000. Adam and I connected from our very first meeting, and we have ever since, even though Adam is far younger than I am. I always find his company interesting, the discussions lively, and we always seem to be laughing. He moved to Ireland six years ago to pursue his first passion, which is Irish music. Adam is a classically trained violinist, yet his love is the "fiddle". So to hear from him and find out he is in Aotearoa for a period was fantastic news. He came up from Wellington last evening and it was a fine reunion. Charlie loved him, and we were treated to a lovely "concert". Adam's playing has gotten so much richer and resonant, his voice deeper and stereo sounding. I was blown away, he was pretty good before he left. I hope Tara and I can hook up with him for St. Patrick's weekend as he is in demand by the Wellington area Irish music folk. What a small world!

In any case Adam expressed a desire to, finally, come and see the Ruahines with me and we have planned a trip to Top Maropea in the next few weeks. He has always known of my love for the mountains so the opportunity to share some of that with him is very cool. How I look forward to that! I may even carry Adam's fiddle - after all its only an over nighter! I generally rely on the lovely natural symphony of the mountains for my "soundtrack" while there, but the thought of hearing the lovely classical or Irish strains of Adam's violin at Top Maropea has a certain charm and appeal to it.

This afternoon Tara and I, being child free for a rare moment, took a drive to Shannon, a tiny little village about 30 minutes south of here. In Shannon there is located a second hand book store we have grown very fond of - and gathered some excellent and inexpensive books for our burgeoning collection. We found a few as usual. Then Tara walked into the shop next door, which I was not really interested in, but eventually, and reluctantly, followed her into. Almost immediately I spotted an original camp oven, a heavy duty iron pot with lid and handle so as to hang over a fire. They can be used as a boiler, fryer, or even to simmer a soup or stew. And best of all to make camp oven bread - something I have always wanted to try and now I will! Plus, they just look cool and rustic, a relic of the Ruahines. At one time common in all Ruahine huts, and the main method of preparing dinner back in the days of deer culling when men lived in the huts for months at a time. They have slowly disappeared, or been stolen such as the one at Maropea Forks, which went missing last year sometime - most likely by helicopter parties as no tramper or walk in hunter would care to load a rather large and unyielding iron pot into his, or hers, pack. Unless very keen to have a camp oven. The proprietor mentioned a few folks had cast their eyes upon it. Well, I knew what I was looking at and bought it for 25 bucks! A bargain, as for me it is a treasure. I am going to use it and relish it, and eventually I am going to take it to Maropea Forks and gift it back to that special place and the Ruahine Ranges. It is only a small gesture.

Me kimi i te ao nei

he waahi hei rite

ki toou kaainga tupu

e matea nuitea nei

Hei aha oona kino

hei aha ona here

ka taawhai te ngaakau

ko reira noho ai

Seek in this world

wherever you may

a place with home to compare

Whatever its ups

whatever its downs

the Heart will yearn

to be there

Sir Apirana Ngata