Thursday, December 31, 2009

A few more.... and Happy New Year!!

I have not been able to get out on my annual summer journey this year. I have attempted to twice but both times quickly realized the pain in my hip was too much to bear and I turned back. That is pretty hard for me to do. So I thought I would share a few more photos of my time in the mountains which will have to sustain me. Hopefully I will get a taste of the mountains next week on a short camping trip with Charlie. But until I get this hip fixed the Ruahines will have to live within me. It is just the way it is. I am not even sure what relevance I have here if the mountains are not the cornerstone of my words. I thank you all for your telling of similar situations and the improvement which resulted in so many lives, for your encouragement and thoughts from so far away. Believe me, I feel it. And in a positive sense I think of what that moment will be like when I once again hoist a load upon shoulders and head into the mountains on a deep journey, it makes my heart sing. Happy New Year to all, may the gentle mountain breeze be with you.

The above scene was from this year on the way to Iron Gate hut along the Oroua, it can be seen back in my post in July as well. Suffice to say the mountains were wet, the rivers and creeks raging, the skies grey and hanging low, and the forest dripping and vibrant. To the right water can be seen dripping off the trees. It is probably the best image I have personally been able to experience of a moment in a New Zealand forest on a rainy day, and being a tiny part of the myriad of colours, aromas, and sensations in such a place. John and I had each walked in on our own and I could only smile later on at the hut over a cup of tea with the rain beating down on the roof, as John described the exact same spot and showed me on his camera almost the exact same image. Communicating without words. Such moments I shall greatly miss.

Snow covered leatherwood and beech just outside Top Maropea. I had spent 4 days on my own at Maropea Forks, and returned back up river on a beautiful sunny day. By the time I got to the side creek which then climbs back up to here, a blizzard had rolled in. I climbed up to the saddle but knew if I tried to get across I would have died. It just oozed danger and forboding. So I returned to Top Maropea wet and cold and inside the hut the temperature was minus 7 Celsius. I had to get a fire going, and had no paper and little to work with, but by venturing into the blizzard I found some leatherwood and chunks of dead beech. I shaved off slivers into my billy and dried them over my stove, then breaking up pieces of kindling and larger chunks, and using a candle stub, worked my little fire into a great roaring beast, drying my wet gear, warming my soul - if not exactly the hut, and occupying my mind with a necessary task. It was a very cold night at Top Maropea, and the hut shook and rattled in the gales. Just as I was going to try and venture to the outdoor dunny I saw the roof of it blow by! The next day it was not until late afternoon that the wind died down long enough for me to cross the saddle, and even then portions of it on hands and knees. But it was all so beautiful.

Gustav and I high in the clouds after climbing from Otukota hut to the Mokai Patea. Basically the culmination of our first multiple day crossing of the ranges. A self portrait aided by the first marker we had seen after getting a bit wayward climbing over a huge slip above the hut and losing the track. We then bush bashed through thick, steep forest up to the open tops on a compass bearing and this was soon after we found the track. The Waikamaka valley cloud hidden below and the territory we had traversed in the background. A very cool moment.

My favourite photo of what a Ruahine hut day in summer can be like. John, outside of Otukota in summer 2008. A 5 day trip with low rivers, sunny skies, hot days, cool nights. All day long to do nothing at all. I imagine this was late afternoon after a day of swimming in the pure mountain water, and not too long before a wee dram just might appear.

A hot day, a mountain river, and men letting out the inner child. John in the Waikamaka river.

When will I see you again? Perhaps contemplating such very thoughts on the main range, a cold windy early winter day.

And finally, the place I shall most miss - the back yard at Top Maropea. The portrait painted a new and unique way on each visit. This particular experience a blend of the majestic purple and blue hues with the perfect dab of the golden tops caught in the fading sunlight. I just happened to turn around after tending to Charlie's Cairn and this sight just stunned me. How long I sat there for I have no idea. Until the last light faded I hope. Isn't it beautiful? Thank you for indulging me once again. Hope you have enjoyed.
Kia kaha!


kylie said...

hi robb,
the first two photos are the ones that catch my imagination.

i'm sure the operation will get you back into your beloved mountains, which should mean 2010 will be a good one :)

for you and yours
may the road rise to meet you
and the wind be at your back


RedLogix said...

That first photo in the Oroua is fabulous... both my partner and I instantly felt that it was very reminiscent of a Constable painting. The soft lighting, colours and subject are all evocative of the master.

Now don't go giving up, you can and will recover.. even if it might take time.

lph said...


I have spent the early morning hours of 2010 drinking coffee and catching up on your blog. Yesterday afternoon I finished up reading my student's research papers, and today I am going to spend time reading for myself.

I am sorry to hear about your hip, but am certain that a full recovery is possible. Two friends have had hip/knee replacements and both are back to living active lives. I will think of you often in your return to the mountains that you love. And one must believe that just maybe, the next journey will find your trip free of pain.

The photo that begins your entry is my favorite image of the Ruahines that you have shared with us. It is an absolutely stunning display of light and texture. Stay motivated in your rehab so you can give us more of those gifts.

I appreciate you tracking me down last spring, and I look forward to reading more about you, your life, and your family (hopefully the spring here will allow me some time to get back at it).

Take care my friend and have a fantastic New Year!


Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Happy New Year Tara and Robb and boys,

Thanks for your friendship over the past year and for the pleasure in reading, and savouring your postings. I enjoyed this one very much.

Have a great 2010.


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Kylie,
Cheers, and I hope your words prove correct. Pretty hard to watch my summer holiday roll by and not be in the mountains. Thanks for your support. Hope to feel the mountain wind at my back mid year. Happy New Year my friend to you and yours.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora RL,
That was the moment, nothing touched up or altered at all. Magnificent to see such splendour and I am glad you enjoy.
Thank you for your well wishes and I am definitely not going to give up. The rehab will be totally focused on those ranges.
All the best in the New Year - and those boys are eating the veges. Kia ora.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Larry,
Ah the life of the busy teacher...
I suspected that is why your place has been silent. I hope you find time at some stage to resume your place, I am particularly interested in your most recent Boundary Waters excursion.
My wife suggested I blow that photo up and put it on my wall as motivation for my rehab. Heck, maybe a whole montage! But the thought of those mountain tops, ridges, forests, rivers, and stream are pretty powerful motivators for me.
It was good to reconnect, one of the real benefits of the online world the bringing back together of old friends, and the treasure of finding some of those relationships still have a lot of value and relevance.
All the best in the New Year to you and yours. Those Badgers hoopsters are really surprising me this year. On a good day they can really play. Ryan is really a heck of a coach.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Right back at ya mate! Looking forward to another one. Kia kaha.

Patry Francis said...

A place well worth revisiting any number of times--if only through your lovely words and photographs.

kia ora, Robb to you and your family.

Robin Easton said...

Dear Wild Brother,

You need never thank us for indulging you. We would all eagerly read anything you share. I'm sure I speak for others here. Your photos are sooooooo magical and your words heartfelt, blunt, clean and those mountain streams that your tears flow into. I come here not only because we are connected in soul and we understand each other without words, but also because when I am here I get to FEEL who I REALLY am when I am having to be indoors working without enough time in the wild. As you know, wild time would never be "enough time" for me. It's who I AM.

When I came out of the rainforest people used to literally say to me "well that was a nice time of your life" or "that was a nice vacation but now you are older and you have to face reality and the 'real' world."

Honestly Robb, I would calmly look at them and know that there were no words that could bridge the gap between us. I might as well have gone to another planet, lived there for years and then come back. It used to be hard, but for some time now I simply embrace them and love them and know that people cannot "know" or understand what they have not yet experienced. I'm sure there are things I would not understand because I've not experienced them.

Robb, you have given SOOOO much on these pages. What you've given is something that I need in my life, and so many others need. You not only sustain those we are madly in love with the wild, but you offer hope and "introduction" for those we are curious or maybe hunger for the wild...even if it is only from their window.

But you offer FAR FAR more than that. You offer a "wild memory" to those young people coming who may not have been exposed to or had the opportunity to be in the wild....and yet, stored in their cells is the wild memory. Just as it awoke in you and me when given the opportunity it can awaken in others.

There are those out there who are seeking. You are a beacon that shines through the deadening fog of society. I pray and hope, even greedily for myself, that you will keep writing and sharing...even if it is past trips and camping trips with "Snow Turtle". I encourage you to continue to be the Wild Voice that you ARE. We all need you.

All the Aroha in the world to you my dear Wild Brother....always.
Your Sister,

Marja said...

Sorry to hear about your hip which stops you from going to your beloved mountains and to magical places. The top photo and the last one are like fairytales Godd that you are full of great memories on which you can thrive for a while.
Nice that snow picture as well. My husband spend the last 3 weeks covered in snow in Holland. He was even stuch to the house because of it as it was minus 10 over there but they had a white christmas.
I wish you a happy new year and hope everything will work out with you this year.

KB said...

I was so sorry to hear that you had to turn back from your most recent trip. My positive thoughts are with you for your trip with Charlie.

You have an amazing set of photos here. I love the first one. When I initially saw it, I thought that it was a painting of an imaginary beautiful world - but it was real. Wow. And, the last one reminds me of some of my favorite photos of our mountains, with the last sun rays lighting a mountain peak.

My hopes are with you for a successful recovery from the surgery. I actually wish that you could have it sooner, based on watching several friends who had similar surgeries. They recovered so well and are now so very active.

I've decided to remove the word 'can't' or 'cannot' from my vocabulary when it comes to contemplating what I'll be capable of doing in the future. Instead, I *shall* figure out a way to immerse myself in nature, even if it has to be a different way than I do now. I hope that you can convince your spirit to think positive thoughts about your happy return to your mountains.

I feel that we are partners, in an odd sort of way, thousands of miles apart but both experiencing similar things. I'll be watching out for you.

Kia Kaha.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Patry,
You are always a most welcome friend to see here. Glad you enjoy the visits to these wonderful ranges, I am seeing through the same sort of eyes as you currently, but they still just amaze me, and I am glad I have a reasonably rich library to both share and reflect upon. So good to read new words from you. Kia kaha.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Robin,
Ah my Wild Sister, I always love your words and presence here, the connection we have made. I am trying to look at this current situation as an opportunity for something new, and being away from the POSSIBILITY of even being in these mountains which are so much a part of me I have only begun to understand is something entirely new for me. Until now I have always had the physical well being and blessings by those whom love me to roam them with great frequency. The blessings are still there, just not the physical ability. It is hard to get my head around that.
I hope I can find a way to share my love of these mountains related to my reason for being here in a meaningful way. Lord knows, I have a lot of note books and photos of my time there that still remain unshared. I want to continue to encourage people to get into Nature. Because that is the only way we can save Nature. And ourselves. Sometimes I just hang my head and cry at all this.
Be Wild for me out there my beautiful, wise, and wide open lovely Sister. We shall Rave On! Kia kaha. Rangamarie.
Your Not So Wild Brother

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Marja,
Welcome back from your Holiday. Hope it was filled with joy and aroha.
I still will write, that having growing up in Wisconsin, where the winters are cold, white, and harsh, that at least the cold was very dry. Meaning if one layered up properly, and was acutely aware of one's interaction with the cold, it was entirely possible to at time be running around on a sunny day in a tee shirt. As long as the warm stuff was nearby ready to put on when needed. Here in Aotearoa the cold is a bone chilling damp heavy reminder. Especially in the mountains. At times it just sets upon you like a weight. Good time then to find a hut and get a nice crackling fire going.
Marja, you are another special conncetion made here, far beyond words I can right in this moment write. Teen age boys eh! Rave On.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora KB,
I was sort of kicking myself today hobbling through town, not having had the surgery over this period where I have been off work for three weeks. It was a mistake, as this has been a very boring holiday to be quite truthful.
But it is what it is, and come this March or early April, just as you, the surgeons will deal with us. Your issue far more problematic than mine. So I take far more inspiration and hope from your place my friend. Please do keep an eye on me.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. I'm struck by the need to connect with the wild places we love. Western thought seems to DIS-connect the natural world from human spirituality...

We are not fully ourselves without the wilds and I hope that you get well enough to get back to those places that seem so dear to you soon!

Until then, enjoy with me, the wild places in our hearts!

We will be back on our feet in no time, in places where time is of no worth, soon...

Gustav said...


Happy New Year my fine friend. The first photo is magic and takes me to a place I love with every ounce of my soul.

You and I standing in the clouds is perhaps our finest picture ever together. What a celebration!

Your blog is more than just the Ruhaines. Its about a man seeking a wild path, a path without billboard signs.

I love you brother and I know we will again tramp the beloved Ruahines together in one way or another.

Hell Mission T.C said...

Hi Robb

Written the last Ruahine Story A bimble in the mighty Ruahines, the last of the bastard bivvies.
Have also got the pictures from that trip up there.

When you get your hip fixed you should get out to Ruahine Corner!

Now were leaving to walk through the guts of Mt Aspiring Nat. Park since we can't go round it due to 200-250mm of rain making the Cascade River and others impassable!


Unknown said...

Hang tough aye Robb.

Love ya passion for the hills mate.

Happy New Year


Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Beautiful photos and post, Robb!!! I have visited a few times recently and for some reason couldn't find the comment section.

I pray your hip pain is dealt with soon so you can return to your beloved mountains.

Perhaps God wants you to start having your journals published with photos. Perhaps it is time to write.

My photo publication came after I was diagnosed with painful carpal tunnel and had to stop working.

The Lord has great surprises in store for us.

Happy New Year to You and Yours and God Bless!

Hugs, JJ

Ruahines said...

Kia ora LC,
I am thinking of you brother, and hope you are up and roaming soon. Please take my spirit with you. I truly relish the thought of being where Time has no meaning and the smell of wood smoke is upon me. I am not sure when that will be exactly and am searching for ways to keep that connection alive in my soul so that I do not wither amongst this out here. When I hear people out here talking of painting their living rooms, buying a bigger house, complaining about the weather, or how their privileged lives are affected by the disenfranchised, my eyes glaze over, and I die slowly. Get back out there for me soon my friend. Kia kaha brother!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Brother,
You have been in places like that first photo. You get it.
Cheers, and I hope I can find that within me to make this place so.
I go under the knife 8 April having seen the cutter yesterday. That puts in line for a reunion with the Ruahine for my 50th in late July. Hope you can make it brother. You know more than most what that will mean.
Fuck the billboards brother! Let us roam wild and free and share hunks of bread. Kia kaha!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Philip,
Mate, when I get this hip fixed I am going to make it a Mission to hook up in there with you and your old man! This is so.
Look forward to reading and seeing your down south journey. I have a feeling you will out grow the confines of the Ruahine pretty quickly and that is cool. But always remember where you learned, and who you learned your craft with.
Rave on Little Brother! Go see it all.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Jamie,
Thanks my friend. A few tough times lie ahead, but I keep the smell of woodsmoke, a gentle mountain breeze, and the sound of the clear river within me. Be cool.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora JJ,
Thank you! Your unabashed love and support bring me to tears. I look beyond me to understand all this and bring clarification. I understand all too well that so many face realities which make mine pale in comparison - the poor poeple of Haiti for instance. Yet this is me, and I appreciate beyond words the fact you are here.
All my love to you and Jeff, and your strength and and place raves on within me. Kia kaha.

Anonymous said...

Magnificent photo at the start of your post. Thought it was a painting and can imagine it as a oil painting in a classic ornate frame in a vast and established art gallery."The thought of being where time has no meaning and the smell of woodsmoke is upon me"..ah I'm with you there...the two aspects of the smell of woodsmoke and sounds of crows combined means heaven for me, and out where time stands still, waking to the soft metallic tinkering sounds in the distance, as someone starts breakfast standing in the dewy grass, as the first soft and warm rays of sunshine peep through the tent.Hope you can get your hip sorted soon Robb,and thank you so much for your continuing inspiration to explore even further domains of beauty and mystery.

Anonymous said...

...whoops,"an" oil painting I mean to say at the start.

Unknown said...

I am in agreement with Gustav, that beautiful and breathtaking photo of you two in the clouds says so much. I find myself lucky enough to be living in the midst of similar mountains and similar views....they are capturing my soul and spirit and carrying them higher.

Rock on.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Pam,
Those memories you describe are beautiful. I too love those sounds of early morning, the metallic clang of my mug on the stones, those warm rays of sunshine, and while we don't have crows here the Tui's provide a marvelous wake up song. Can't wait to hear it all again. Thanks for your thoughts and support.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'Arcy,
Mountains have a way of doing that. That was an awesome moment to share with Gustav, and I hope we will do so again.

Lynda Lehmann said...

I always enjoy your musings on your encounters in the wild, Robb, and your sentiments echo my own. You have many memories to cherish and share with your friends and family.

Between mountain and sky and lake and forest I can lose myself a million times, and still want more of it. I look forward to the time when you can immerse yourself once again, in the places that stir your soul.

The photos are inspiring and lovely.