Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Yuletide

One of the evenings that Gustav was here we lit a fire, put some tunes on, and at some point ended up going through the photo albums I have brought with me or put together from my life and time here in New Zealand. Interesting to hang out with an old friend from that far back and see the progression to now. There are quite a few photos of the Ruahine in there as one might imagine. Gustav asked me what my favourite 5 photos of those mountains are - a much tougher question, though a delightful conundrum, to consider. So now, a few weeks after my friend has left, I have the answer, which I am going to share below, and above and in no particular order. Mind you, I reserve the right, which I will no doubt exercise, to change my mind at anytime in accordance to my mood. But right now in this moment these 5 images of the Ruahine stand out amongst literally countless images, if not in those books, then inside my soul.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish all those whom read here a very healthy, happy, and appreciative Yuletide season. Amongst all the hoopla and crassness of the days ahead may you find you Aroha and Nature. A long time ago a blogging friend pointed out to me that most blogs last far less than a year, then disappear. I have been writing here for a little over two years now and though I have no idea what the future will bring it has been a distinct pleasure to meet and connect with such wonderful people, you have all taught me, shared with me, and let me rave on. Kia ora and Kia kaha!

Above is a sunset I was fortunate enough to experience back in summer of 2005. It was taken from the river flats outside Waterfall hut up in the headwaters of the Kawhatau valley looking west up towards the Hikurangis, some pretty remote Ruahine country. I was with John. After a day of climbing from McKinnon hut to Mangaweka, the Ruahines highest point, then enduring about 3 hours of hard work and terror as we battled down the one creek we were not supposed to choose. Sheer waterfalls, climbing out onto and clinging to leatherwood as we dropped down from one shrub to the next like a ladder to the creek, only to soon encounter another waterfall. It was exhausting stuff, and not a place or time to make any mistakes. When we finally reached the confluence with the creek we SHOULD have been on, I flopped down next to John and we didn't say anything for a long time, we didn't have to. We knew we had made a big mistake, put ourselves into a very bad spot, and yet got out of it. We learned a lot and were very humbled. Later that evening after walking down to the river and to the hut, we took a wee dram down to the flats to toast the day - my 45th birthday. We looked up and saw the sunset above. It took our breath away.

Another birthday tramp from 2008. John and I were walking up the rather tedious approach to Parks Peak ridge after abandoning an attempt to cross Armstrong saddle due to the wind and weather. As we put on our boots on after crossing the Makaroro river we were both a bit nervous with big heavy 5 day packs and not much match fitness. Then we turned a bend and saw this! The Ruahine relaxing her angry mood to greet us and coax us along. We had a great trip, a couple sunny but short winter days at Upper Makaroro. Then a huge snowstorm at Parks Peak where John and I both walked solo through a gentle snow in the forest, to a blizzard up high on the ridge. The new hut at Parks Peak, and in particular the stove, earned a few stripes that evening.

Yet another birthday, 2004, John and I once again. John is sitting out of the ever increasinging wind on the lee side just below the flanks of Te Atua Mahuru and looking down into the head waters of the Mangatera valley along the main Ruahine range. We had spent the night at Sparrowhawk bivouac when on the way over the tops from Sunrise the wind came up and weather closed in, and the little biv was a fine place of refuge and comfort. The next day was beautiful, but still very windy and extremely cold, even for July. From here we carried along to where we could drop down to Maropea Forks and the familiar loveliness of a spot we love gotten to a new way.

Nigel and I on the main range above Top Gorge hut and the Pohangina valley, and below us on the far background the Oroua valley back in 2002. A fairly ordinary photo I acknowledge but my favourite of Nige and I as it was the last time we were together in these mountains and he is the man who brought me to them. I was at my best, no hip problems, no problems at all. We spent 2 days waiting at Howlett's hut for the weather to clear so we could cross Sawtooth ridge, and finally just changed our plans and kept moving. We were young (relatively), and as fit as we could be, at least I was. And to be with Nigel and John - who took the photo, we were pretty confident and capable.

Finally, right now, I present my eldest son and I overlooking the Maropea valley just above Top Maropea. Taylor was only 12, and I was bereft of teen age angst and fear, I mean mine for him. It is when I look at photos such as this that I know he has been exposed to other impulses that might help guide him along. Like negotiating a Ruahine ridge on an inclement day.

Happy Yuletide


kylie said...

and aroha to you and yours in this season of madness.

the rainbow is fantastic.


Tim Koppenhaver said...

Pictures are worth a thousand words, says the old adage. You've posted some nice shots that clearly have great stories behind them.

There's a picture in Sports Illustrated's "Pictures of the Year" that just came out showing the same type of mammatus clouds as your first shot. Both are framed the same: yours with a mountain range; theirs with Met's stadium. Both are great pictures.

Take care.


Anonymous said...

If we need the wilderness then the children need it more...after 12 years in education, that has become very apparent. I wish this class of 6th graders could join you and your son, and learn what your mountains have to teach!

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Robb, what a gorgeous and nostalgic post. You have my eyes tearing for how much you love your mountains and beautiful family and friends.

God bless you!!!

How's the hip?

Happy Holidays, JJ

KB said...

I love the stories behind each of your photos. The stories seem to be what make you love the photos. The rainbow is simply astonishing. What a gift to see it in your beloved mountains.

The people who you shared each day with also seemed to play a big role in your love of certain photos. In that spirit, I love the one of you and your eldest son, standing above ocean of peaks behind you.

I've been on a similar quest to choose favorite photos because my friends have encouraged me to enter a photo in a 'dogs in the mountains' photo contest. It's different from your quest because I'm looking at the photos from the eyes of others rather than from the eye of my memories. I should reshape my quest and do it your way.

I wish you a happy new year with a very successful surgery in April that will return you to feeling "young and fit", ready for long tramps in your mountains.

Anonymous said...

Hi Robb! A wonderful post. I can see why these are your favourite photos. I especially like the last one. Youngsters need that weighty arm of assurance, but then again Taylor's giving you something to lean on! Thanks for your visit to my blog and comment.Much appreciated. You can imagine how much David and I are looking forward to our country escape in such a scenic part of Australia.Happy Yuletide to you and your loved ones Robb.May the New Year bring many blessings!

Gustav said...

Happy Yuletide brother.

Remember the Apiti Ale and Yuletide we shared together in Apiti?

Do yo remember Bing singing as we feasted like Vikings?

Nigel Olsen said...

My god, I've forgotten how beautiful a country it is that I live in...and to think that I drive along Highway 50 almost everyday, and scarcely give the ranges a second thought - shame on me... Time to spend more time out of the kitchen I think. Cheers Robb; you've given me some food for thought.

Lynda Lehmann said...

I can relate to the difficulty of naming which photo or sunset or scene carried the most emotion for you, as so many of our nature experiences seem to be "peak" experiences. We wouldn't want to trade in any of them!

That sunset is astounding, as is the photo of the sky half clouded over and half flooded with the light of clearing, and a rainbow, to boot. But it is exactly the changingness-and-yet-staying-the- same that makes nature so powerful and mystifying for us, I think.

I'm sure you have given both your boys a wonderful heritage of a joy of nature that is uplifting and inspiring. And to my way of thinking, holy. They will both thrive on memories of their father's quest for the experience and solace of the great wilderness and open places.

I can relate to your despair about your hip. I will be 60 in May, and my husband and I have many issues. And all my friends are complaining about becoming more and more vulnerable, physically. "Decrepit," as one friend puts it.

But our spirits can still soar. I am determined to remain as active as possible, keep a sense of humor, and let nature remain my alter, my rock, and my sustenance.

Love to you Robb. And best wishes to you and your family for health, harmony, and the happiest of holiday seasons.

Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

Barry said...

As always your posts and your photos astound, inspire and scare the heck out of me.

Wishing you all the best his holiday season!

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Happy Yuletide Robb and Tara and whanau.

Enjoyed reading your reflections!

Have a great holiday.


Steffi said...

Happy Yuletide!
Wonderful photo´s!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Kylie,
Happy Yuletide my friend, stay healthy and sane! The rainbow was a truly magical moment.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Tim,
There are other photos perhaps more beautiful or dramatic, but the ones with the stories behind them are the ones which stay in mind. And as I wrote, next week the 5 will probably change. Glad you like the sunset and thanks for the comparison. Happy Yuletide.

Barbara Martin said...

An excellent post, Robb, to share with us who watch your hiking journeys of present and past. It is the remembering which reminds us of how rich our lives have been through the experiences, both strenuous and wonderful sights upon reaching the heights of the terrain.

Each of these photos speaks volumes to the viewer, Robb, of nature as it was intended to be.

All the best over the holiday season.


Ruahines said...

KIa ora LC,
The thing is, I keep learning too! I hope that my son has a bit of that within him, and there is certainly great good to be had by anyone spending time in nature disconnected from out here and connected in there. It is not easy being a kid these days, sometimes it leaves me feeling pretty helpless.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora JJ,
Thinking of you and Jeff in the winter wonderland of the U.P. The memories coming flooding back of my home away from home.
It's easy for me to love in the mountains, much harder out here where there is so much more in the way.
My hip seems to have good days and bad ones, very frustrating.
Have a nature filled Yuletide Season JJ.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora KB,
There a lot of photos that when I first look at seem pretty ordinary, and I never will make the claim of being some sort of Ansell Adams with my oor little camera. Yet over time some of those seem to emerge and reveal beauty I never even saw when I was there. So to me a lot of these photos are treasures. And when looking at them I can transport myself to the very moment of being there, but find what I am looking at is very different from then. If that makes any sense.
In any case thank you for your good wishes, and more so for the inspiration and beauty of your own journey. May you and yours, human and canine, have a lovely Yuletide season. Kia kaha my friend.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Pam,
I am very happy you will be up in the high country, please enjoy each and every second.
I think you may be right about that photo, I probably am leaning on Taylor to catch my breath. That photo in particular is one of my favourites, overlooking the main Ruahine range and the Maropea valley, the hard work pretty much done and out of any trouble from gusty wind with Top Maropea only a steep 20 minutes or so further down into the forest. A good place to be, and more so with my son.
Happy Yuletide to you and yours as well Pam. Kia ora and Kia kaha.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora brother,
There are a number of photos with you I could have chosen, you on the same ridge as Taylor and I but looking the other way towards the snow covered bulk of Te Atuao parapara, or on the porch at Maropea Forks with the snow blowing over, or in the clouds on the Mokai Patea, amongst many. Being the previous post was dedicated to your presence I thought it appropriate to go a different direction here.
Indeed, Apiti Ale, a huge buffet feed, and Yuletide carols. What had we wandered into? A fitting scene I suggest.
May you and Maya have a splendid Yuletide!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Nigel,
Haere mai, and glad I could be of assistance in reminding you of Natures bounty so nearby! On a fine day that drive along highway 50 can bring tears to my eyes. There is a bit of kai in there as well which would make some interesting work in the kitchen for you. Hope to see you in there sometime, and will certainly be over to your place to see what wonderful things you are up to in the kitchen. I have become a big fan of boil ups. Happy Yuletide.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lynda,
You got it exactly. To write or state unequivacably that these 5 photos are my ultimate favourites would be unjust to my own self. The fluidity of loving nature makes so many other aspects stand out, depending on our moods. The micro world which you are so brilliant at interacting with, and have inspired me to explore on a deeper more intimate level for instance.
I hope my boys get that Lynda, I truly do, particularly Taylor my oldest. I don't know how much else I have offered him, but the mountains will always be there for him, and hopefully the good things he might remember about my spirit will be on the mountain breeze.
I shall walk, hobble and crawl as long as I can Lynda! Much aroha to you and yours and thank you for tuning in here my friend. Kia kaha.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Barry,
My most heart felt thoughts for a healthy and happy Yuletide. Glad to have discovered your journey. Kia kaha.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Wishing you and yours a safe journey back to Aotearoa and happy reunion over the Yuletide season. Thanks for all the moments shared over the past year. Kia kaha.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Steffi,
Cheers! And Happy Yuletide to you as well.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Barbara,
I know you are kindred to the feelings I have about these, and all, my photos. I feel the same way when I visit your place and the wonderous vistas within. The appreciation for the view is also as deep as the journey in getting there. All the finest of Yuletide greetings and wishes to you and yours. Thank you.

Unknown said...

On ya Robb, have a good one aye.

I'm sort of wondering if whether I may never visit the Ruahines other than in your writings, I enjoy the mystery and myth of them too much.

Could it be more worth while just to know they are there?

Take care


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Jamie,
Geez brother, thats pretty high praise. I think there is value, as dicussed here many times, in simply knowing wild places are indeed out there, but for selfish reasons I would rather enjoy experiencing them with you myself. Happy Yuletide to you and Penny - should the holidays bring you this way give us a ring -0274442116. Rave on my friend.

Robin Easton said...

Dear Robb,

This is so so beautiful. I loved all the stories and the photos that you've shared are soooooo lovely. It's funny the one you sent me of the leaves on the ground is almost identical to one I "observed". I will send it when I get a chance to find it. But I felt so connected and was deeply touched that you guys saw beauty in the same details of nature that I "observe" it as well.

MY Wild Brother, it has been and continues to be one of the most fortifying experiences in my life to get to know you and share with you. I read one of your PROFOUNDLY honest and heartfelt comments on another blog (maybe dear Wilma's blog - she is wonderful isn't she), that comment of yours rocked me to my core. It was about your life and family and various things you have been through over the years. I just felt soooooo proud of you because you are REAL and honest and tell it like it is.

It is a DEEP honor to be part of your core friends, part of your life journey. You are always with me and I send you and those you love so much caring, compassion and love, for all of you. I am keeping you and your knee in my prayers that I send out on the high desert wind.

Never doubt that there so many who are with you. Especially YOU. There is me, Mary D (Ophelia), Wilma, Lynda, Gustav, John, Nigel and so many others who love you. And you mean so much more to us than just a blog post. We proudly call you our dear cherished friend. You have made SUCH a huge difference in my life, more than I'm sure you know or would give yourself credit for.

May you and Tara and the boys all have a peaceful southern hemisphere holiday season.

Aroha my Wild Brother.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Robin,
I hope you have a wonderful break and lots of beautiful nature filled days and nights. I was planning a tramp soon but my hip is just not cooperating - so those memories and spirits might just have to sustain me for awhile.
Thank you for your presence here, for connecting with me and leading me down some very interesting paths, and for your love of all things, but mostly Nature and Wild Places. We are kindred spirits in so many ways Wild Sister, and I am honoured to be part of all this.
I knew you would love that photo of the beech leaves and sticks. You could lose yourself all day in just one little place, just as far as our eyes and souls are willing to look and appreciate this one moment. Happy Yuletide Wild Sister. Rave on and Kia kaha!

Donald said...

Hi Robb

All the best for a great Xmas. It been a delight to cross blog now coming up a year, so I hope you can continue to write and illustrate so well what is the essence of you and yours.

I really like the concept of you publishing your favourite images - this takes a bit of courage in some ways. Sure a great shot [like the rainbow] is a great shot. but when we do this we bare our soul which probably makes the viewer ask "what is in this image that the publisher finds special?" And in your case you explain and this is the beauty of the way you share your soul!

Thank you my friend.



Paterika Hengreaves said...

Kia ora Robb

This latest post of yours has given me the much needed relaxation; for I'm so stressed out with activities that traditionally come around this time of the year.

The imagery you have created for readers as you reflect on some awesome moments with mother nature is truly great and therapeutic for me. I thank you very much for bringing so much serenity in my life through your writing. Your flair for words as you share your life experiences through your many tramps in Ruahine shines and the bonding is evident on all accounts. I can cite so many instances that have successfully drawn me into your writing soul, but these two examples will do for now: "the Ruahine relaxing her angry mood to greet us and coax us along". "in particular the stove, earned a few stripes that evening".

The pictures embedded are magnificent for they truly drive the narrative forward that words would never do.

I look forward to your many reflections of your tramping the ranges as you await your hip surgery. I wish for you a successful surgery, much joy and happiness to you and your lovely family in the days and years ahead. Thank you for being such a great friend. Happy Yuletide.

Beth said...

Robb, just wanting to wish you a happy Christmas and a New Year of recovery from pain and a return to the mountains. If you said when the surgery is scheduled I missed it, but please let me know. My 85-year-old father's experience should encourage you: after having both knees replaced, he is now more active than before, playing golf and table tennis, and even scrambling up and down the roof to put up a Christmas star. He was determined about the rehab and worked hard, and now he's fine - I bet you will be the same. Thanks for being such a steady presence, both here and in the comments, and for your beautiful photos and written reflections on the mountains and on life.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
As I wrote at your place it has been a real pleasure connecting with you this year. Kindred in many ways. I look forward to your offerings this year to sustain me, as I am afraid the mountains are pretty much done with me until I correct this hip issue. I have attempted twice in the past week to get out for a couple nights and the last being today. I couldn't do it, and just have to admit that and deal with it. Pretty heavy though. So I will try to find a way to remain relevant here, but will probably be turning to the places which inspire me and give me hope - like yours my friend. All the best in the New Year, and Kia kaha.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Paterika,
I always love reading words from you, or by you as over at your place. Many interesting changes for you this past year! I hope the New One is absolutely delightful for you and yours.
Thank you, again, my wonderful freind for your thoughts and encouragement to look within myself for the words there to communicate my aroha and mana for these mountains. My covalesence will be filled with such lovely images, and words which will motivate me to return quickly. Or at least "coax me along". Rave on Paterika, you rock. Look forward to another year of friendship. Rave on, and Kia kaha.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Beth,
I hope to have the surgery in late March or early April - which right now seems like a lifetime away as my hip will just not let me into the mountains properly. I am going to take my youngest, Charlie, camping for a night or two in the same place by the river I was recently with my friend Gustav. It is pretty much all I can handle right now. So all the wonderful stories, comments, and encouragement here really does help. Kia ora.
Thank you for your place as well, since discovering you shortly after entry into the blogging world and finding you via Pohangina Pete yours has also been a place of great reflection, beauty, and inspiration.
Happy New Year Beth to you and yours. May it be filled with joy and interesting moments. Kia kaha.