Sunday, December 5, 2010

Days Gone By : Farewell 2010 and Peaceful Yuletide

As I grow older I seem to measure the passing of time differently. The lessons of life, the mental and physical battles we endure, the daily grind of paying bills and raising a family, and suddenly that young buck who used to be looking back at me in the mirror has become my father. In the mountains it is easy for me to become absorbed by the natural rhythms of my environment - such as my poem Mountain Time a few posts ago. Not so easy out here, but I am growing and still learning. As this year comes to end, I look back on my favourite mountain moments, some no doubt quite ordinary. But when a year ago I wondered if I would ever return to the Ruahine, ordinary is actually pretty exceptional.

The smile on my face above, and just the quiet countenance I felt within me, says it all. It was June, a little over 3 months since my hip had been replaced, and Charlie accompanied me on my first journey back into the mountains. I was nervous and tentative, like a first date when I was a teenager. So to get up to Sunrise with a heavy pack and pain free and have the whole Ruahine to ourselves on a picture perfect couple of days was almost too much. Charlie came out and found me watching the sun begin to set and I was sitting there with tears rolling down my face. He just sat down next to me and didn't say a word. A little while later he took the photo above.

Charlie out on Armstrong saddle. Originally I wished he had been looking at me but as this photo has come through the year I have grown to appreciate he is not. To have Charlie there with me as I was reunited with the Ruahine was an honour and a pleasure.

Charlie on a section of the track to Sunrise when suddenly the tawhairauriki appear in this gorgeous little brimming spot, and you know the open tops are near.

In July my mate Gustav came over from Tasmania. We spent 4 days in the Ruahine, retracing backwards a few steps made years ago. Being kicked back above, tin cup in hand and wood gathered, being at a cool mountain spot celebrating my 50th birthday, being in the mountains again with a brother of spirit and soul. I love the wet upside down boots on the end of the porch, their work done. I will never take any moment in the mountains for granted.

It is places like this in the forest where I am just staggered by the presence of the forest and just stop to absorb the energy. There is a lot going on here.

I have been across this particular place many times, and always have loved it, the colours and symmetry. Before this July with Gustav I have never managed a photo, most often as the weather has been either raining, snowing, windy, or all the above, and this is not a place to stop and fall. You would not stop until hitting the river, and then most likely swept down near by rapids very quickly. So on this day I left my pack on the far side of the slip and carefully walked back out to where I could observe this view. A personal favourite photo.

A week before Gustav arrived in late July I ventured solo onto the southern end of the Hikurangi, the highest range of the five which make the Ruahine. I spent another 4 days on my own, again walking up on a perfect day. Through the forest the far off active volcanoes on the The Rim of Fire, Ruapehu, Ngarahoe, and Tongariro shimmered in the distance, the sunlight making the snow look like shiny glass. Aotearoa is a beautiful, but volatile land.

Just before sunrise in the high Ruahine, as the open tops meet the bushline, and in in this part a stunning Kaikawaka forest. The trees with this new blanket of frost and snow to me were speaking to each other, some mouths agape, others quietly listening or rolling their eyes, personalities and character revealed in the quiet early morning. The mountain lives! Mid July 2010.

The winter climb is almost done. I love the mountains best in winter. Wild, raw, enter at your own peril.

Charlie and the Ruahine. He is a well equipped mountain traveller. Oh, to be 8 and have those mountains out there to discover! I didn't find my mountains till I was almost 35. So these will do for me. I hope Charlie finds his own mountains as well, whatever, and wherever they may be. He will always be connected here. October 2010.

Charlie and I. October 2010. Overlooking the Oroua valley. We had an excellent day and evening.

The elusive high mountain forest Ruahine elf. Seldom seen but I spotted this one a few times for some reason on this day. He was just scampering ahead of me and I was lucky to have my camera at the ready.

The late spring north eastern Ruahine. Another view I will tire never of seeing. And to view it again a mere month ago makes that very moment unfold as I close my eyes. I spent another 4 days alone in the mountains, the weather turned cold and nasty, but I was Home. November 2010.

My favourite high mountain meadow. I have spent many days here wandering about, and look forward to the next.

Looking out the door of the hut by the river. The music of the river endless, joined by a water fall which can be seen falling down the slip face near the top left hand side. I have seen Whio fly down or up the river as I sat here or just outside. How can I not appreciate I am here, and that I want to return? I was smiling.

The mountain river. Soothing, restorative, yet temperamental. November 2010.

The enveloping high mountain corridor of tawhairauriki. A path I am blessed to have discovered and will always try to remain upon its winding path.

Charlie about to be introduced to the high mountain pool last month. I still smile and chuckle at this moment. November 2010 - a nice spring day but a very very cold pool!

In a few weeks time my oldest son Taylor and I will head into the mountains for another 4 -5 day mountain journey. He suggested it so how can I refuse? It is the best Christmas present he could possibly give me.

I started this place a bit over three years ago not really imagining I would have something to write about these mountains and wild places for as long as I have. What I have found within me is that each and every encounter I undertake with these mountains is new and fresh and fills me with inspiration. As does the presence of those who read here and the sharing of your thoughts which has also led me to your own places in this world. It is a very cool process, an enjoyable community from around the world.

So to those whom tune in here, Kia ora! Please have a peaceful, and nature filled Yuletide Season. Ti hei mauri ora!

Robb and the entire Kloss family


mary said...

Robb, I'm always so swept away while reading your words and contemplating your photos. I'm taken away to a place that's at once distant and far from my land, and as familiar and comfortable as a soft warm armchair. I feel the essence of a million years of living.

I'm struck by your comment that the ordinary is exceptional. I would absolutely agree on this point. I find the most exceptional qualities are found in the most ordinary of things. All one has to do is to be present and aware.

So much love to you.

Marja said...

You do look very content and happy on that top picture and you have lots of reasons to be. You laid out here a whole collection of tremendous experiences over the year.
Each trip will trace a path through your mind which you can revisit many times.
I find it also wonderful how you can share this delight with your sons and how great Taylor comes with you in the mountains. My kids
completely refuse any involvement, so I am jalous.
I had to look up the word Yuletide
and found it was a scandinavian winter festival.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Kia Ora Robb

Thanks for sharing some magnificent photos and so good to read about your trips with the boys. Like you I love the mountains in winter as I feel it gives the rock, the vegetation a rest from our heavy foot prints.

Mountains never change
Except their faces
People never change
Except their faces

Have a great Christmas trip and may the peace and joy of Christmas be with you and your family.

Arohanui, Bob and whanau.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Mary,
My aroha and Peaceful Yuletide wishes to you and your beautiful family.
The older I get the more I learn it is not the big huge things we do which makes the essence of ourselves, but rather the little things, and the little moments we choose to treasure. Little steps get us up the mountain just as fast as big ones.
I am utterly pleased to share these mountains with you - and you are connected to them as well my wonderful friend. Kia kaha!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Marja,
My grandfather and his family came over from Sweden to America on the Lusitania - which on the way back to Europe was sunk by the Germans and brought the Yanks into World War I. So the Swedish custom of Yuletide was a huge part of my childhood. Now here am I immigrated to New Zealand. You and I have many things in common.
The thought these memories will someday sustain me has been part of the reason I carry on with this place. That one day this will be the only way to connect with the best part of me. It almost happened already so I do not take that lightly. I close my eyes and I am there, I smell the woodsmoke. Funny the little things that warm us, like a pair of boots upside down drying on a porch, or a stack of wood chopped and sawn ready for the evening fire. Taylor, my oldest, approached me about a mountain trip, first with a few of his mates, then when that started getting complicated for various reasons, turned it to just him and I - which for selfish reasons I prefer anyway. The last time we went was last November, a year ago, and my hip hurt badly, so I am looking forward to being out there with him with vastly improved mobility, and pain free. Plus letting him carry the heavy pack. Yee hah!
Marja, if you are up this way, get hold of me. At the very least if coming through Palmy stop in for a cup of tea! I am off from the 17th of Dec. to 12 Jan. - a few tramps and camping trips planned but if you are in the North Island I would love to see you. Let me know, and I will send you my phone details.
I truly wish for you, and all the people of Christchurch a very very Peaceful Yuletide - you all deserve it! Aroha to you my friend and to your family as well. Kia kaha!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
I was just browsing through your book of poetry from Afghansitan, Mountains of Our Mind. The inscription you wrote reminds of the time I spent with you in Christchurch a few years ago when you had both knees replaced. Your strength, positivity, and courage was highly inspiring to me during my own recovery, and continues to be as I dream of mountains and wild places.
I wish the most Peaceful of Yuletides to you, and your beuatiful family both there in Sri Lanka and here in Aotearoa. Kia kaha Bob!

troutbirder said...

Beautiful post pics and words Robb. Drawing me back to my own experience in the BWCA wilderness with my two sons. And the notion never to take anything for granted especially the ordinary which often becomes extraordinary when you take the time to look closely.
Happy holidays to you and yours.

Patry Francis said...

I'm so glad you are able to go back to your beloved Ruahine, and to take your distant friends with you. Thank you for sharing some of the beauty, the peace and the wisdom you've found in the mountains.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora TB,
As I have written to you before the Boundary Waters were a huge eye opener into how I felt in wilderness. What an amazing place to share with your sons. I remember a trip with a good friend of mine where when quietly fishing along a shoreline came upon two turtles on a log mating. We watched for a long time this whole process, and I am sure got a few looks from the turtles!
I hope I find a few such ordinary moments with Taylor next week. A Peaceful Yuletide wish to you and yours. Hope you aren't buried under too much snow - I see the Viking game has been postponed as the Giants can't get there. Ah - winter in the Twin Cities.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Patry,
My finest wishes for a beautiful Yuletide to you as well. I am not sure how wise I am, but I do love the mountains and sharing them here. Kia kaha - hope all is well.

vegetablej said...

What a great Christmas this year, climbing in the mountains with your sons, without pain. You're so right that as we get older we appreciate the small perfect things, that we were too busy rushing through to notice, in our youth. And the good news is that that only intensifies as we get older. There's a bit of sadness for what is gone, but gratitude for what we still have.

So I hope this yuletide will be the most special, the most noticed, the most enjoyed by you and all you hold dear.

A most Happy Christmas, Robb,


Bill Gerlach said...


As a relative newbie to your blog, I feel like this post caught me up on everything from this past year. Just amazing. I'm not sure what inspires me more -- the reflections, the pictures, the father/son dynamic I identify with so much -- there is a lot to take in and process.

One thing is for sure: Nature restores. She heals. She opens wide the spirit, emptying the cup that we needlessly fill with our day-to-day happenings so that we can be ready to take in that Essence she gives.

Just wonderful. Happy holidays to you and yours. Be well!

KB said...

Robb, Your post sings with such happiness that you made it back to your mountains even stronger than you expected. I think that loving the mountains like you do (and I do too) gives extra strength when faced with something like your surgery.

Funny what you said about the mirror and seeing your father. I have a photo hanging on the wall of me and my mother just a few years before she died at age 50. I look at that photo, and now I'm both people in it... I was that young girl and now I'm my mother. It's a very odd feeling, especially because my mother is frozen in time in my mind at about the age that I am now.

Your posts are always so thought provoking and uplifting. I'm so glad that we found each others' blogs!

Happy Christmas to you too!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora VJ,
Always brings a smile to see your presence here. Yes, those little moments come to mean so much more, and slowly I can let go of my expectations, and, or, anger at things I hardly understand. The mountains continue to teach me the true importance of Time.
Pete stopped in yesterday for a visit, and we are going to try and arrange a Ruahine trip together after the new year. That would also be very cool, as that is where I met Pete years ago. Small world.
VJ, you too have a very Peaceful and Content Yuletide. Tonite for my tea I making up a simple meal of pasta, a few veges stir fried, and then mixing through your ever present sauce. Easy and tasty!
Kia kaha my friend.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bill,
It is always cool to meet like minded people here. Through the few years I have written here you find people tend to come and go, but there always seems to be a core group which is so inspirational to continue on this path. Your place is a very fine one to discover and i appreciate your presence here. The fact you arrived on advice from Robin makes it even better.
I wish for you a Peaceful and Nature filled Yuletide Season as well. Being summer here the next month or so will be full of the outdoors, but I must write I dohanker at times for my original place this time of year. Time to watch It's a Wonderful Life! Kia kaha my friend.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora KB,
I took Charlie today to have his arm, which he has broken, set in a new cast at the same place I had my consultations for my hip replacement. Man, it brought back some memories! Even more revealing were the nurse and receptionist whom knew me but did not recognize me until I spoke with my Yank accent and they clicked. They couldn't believe that I had dropped so much weight, and looked years younger. I just said that is what happens when that sort of pain is taken away, and thanked them for everything. They were rapt.
I am the same man as my father in some ways, and very, very different in others - though if I could talk to him now I wonder at times about that too. But yeah, the resemblance is pretty strong. I still feel inside sometimes like Charlie!
As I write this I have two big packs starting to fill up with gear sitting right here beside me. Taylor and I head out for 5 days in 3 plus days time. I think back to a little over a year ago when heading to a favourite place with him I just could not carry on further due to my hip and we stopped along the way and spent a few days. He was stronger than me, and my hip just was too much to endure with a load, or even without one.
So we are heading back to our destination now, that I should have known back then was out of my reach last year. I don't think it is now. When we get there I will be radiant. I shall raise my tin cup to you, your health, and your wonderful friends, K & R. May you all roam happy and healthy! Kia kaha KB e hoa! Peaceful Yuletide.

Robin Easton said...

Dearest Wild Brother,

I have read this probably three times since you posted it, and I don't know why, but it is one of the most beautiful posts you've ever done. And I love ALL your posts. But this one seemed to go so deep into me. It stirred up an intense longing to see this place, and to be long term in the wild.

I also think seeing little Charlie spending so much time with you REALLY touches me profoundly. You can see him LOVING it, I mean intensely so. His whole little body is totally absorbed in the wild and you. He will never ever forget this time with you and these mts. Ever.

The photos are just off the charts gorgeous. I LOVE the one of Charlie looking down. There is something so endearing about it, more so BECAUSE he isn't looking at the camera. I watched the video you sent me of him putting on his jacket and I cannot watch that without laughing out loud. I put on my desktop so that I could watch it when I am stressed or down. There is just something about it that makes me forget all my worries or stress. I am going to use it in my "Get Naked in Eden" video. As well as the WONDERFUL photo of you squatting down holding the book. I LOVE that photo and will always treasure it (you look SOOOOOO content), as well as the video of Charlie.

I have an email that I will send after the holidays. Want to add more to it, but won't have time before.

Thank you for being my dear amazing friend and Wild Brother, all these years. Your friendship keeps me sane, grounded, and knowing WHO and WHAT I REALLY am (more so that you will ever know). Bless you for that dear one. Always stay free and wild Robb. It's who you are.

Aroha beautiful Wild One... Until we meet on the mountain.


LG said...

I was referred to this blog and can say, I am truly thankful for that, for having the chance to read your mountain stories - I can feelyour love for them and your family.

Have a wonderful rest of December and 2011 and hope to meet again in the New Year


Anonymous said...

Isn't it just great when you see trees 'talk', branches dancing!
I love watching faces made of foliage that mouth sounds and shapes, busy mouths, eyebrowed and mustached green faces animated by the wind just as you've mentioned. One section of foliage on a gum tree outside this house even looks like a parakeet's head with a squarking beak, ranting at the blustering onslaughts. I feel very alienated from nature at the moment Robb,with preparations for a big family Christmas here, which I am sure will be enjoyable (in hindsight!)As you've mentioned,I remember that family is precious. Previous years though, we have escaped into the wilds at this time,including Tasmania.
You always offer up something wonderful here Robb.Your photos are beautiful. Season's greetings to you and yours.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Robin,
That video STILL cracks me up every time I watch it! Charlie is so patient and nonchalant as he struggles into the swan dry. The photo with your book is also a favourite. It was such a cool experience to be in those mountains all alone with your book. That place is one of my favourite river spots and I would read your words then just amble up and down the flat pondering.
Taylor and I leave in the morning for 5 days in the Ruahine. It will be interesting spending time with my teen. I can't think of a better place for us both to do it. I have loaded up our packs with heaps of food as teen age boys tend to eat a fair bit, so we will have heavy packs to start with.
You are indeed my Wild Sister, and you have made a real difference in my life in your love of the wild and nature, your all encompassing aroha for the earth and her inhabitants, and your non judgemental acceptance of everyone. In some those things can be seen very quickly and easily as trite and superficial, in you Robin it is simply Genuine. It is who you are, and that inspires me to be who I am. May you have a very Peaceful Yuletide season. See you in the mountains Wild One! Rave on!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora LG,
Haere mai (Welcome), and I am glad you found the place and are enjoying it. Stay tuned!
Most Peaceful Yuletide wishes to you and yours.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Pam,
One of my closest friends lives in Tasmania, and a few years ago I went there and we spent a few days tramping about. It was wonderful and I want to go back for a deeper taste of its bounty.
I am glad I am not the only one who "sees" the faces and souls of the trees.:) - Particularly in the early mornings or at sunset, and in the frost and snow they come to life for me.
I hope you get some time in Nature soon Pam. Even if just to sit in your backyard away from the hustle and bustle of this silly season, and close your eyes and just be for a few moments. Let it flow into you. And you can always stop in here and enjoy the Ruahine as well my friend!
Most Peaceful Yuletide wishes and thoughts to you and yours Pam. Kia kaha!

Jamie said...

Hey Robb

You have had a good year man!

Great to read about your adventures and look at those great photos of the Ruahine which I am still to enter.

I always find your blog hugely reassuring and energising.

Take care man and have a great Christmas with your family.


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Jamie,
Hey good to read from you man~! I was meant to be in the Ruahine now, but put it off as the weather was looking pretty dicey, and the past few days have confirmed that, Pohangina Pete tells me the river up that way is up and dirty. So will head in with my oldest boy on xmas night or Boxing Day with hopefully improved weather. Heading in again just after new year with Pohangina Pete and my mate John. Packs ready and waiting. Hope you and Penny have had a great year, and that we might read from you back on the airwaves soon. Regards to your lovely parents from Tara and I as well Jamie. Have a Peaceful and Nature Filled Yuletide.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Soo soooo beautiful, Robb!!! You have been through so much but are able to continue your marvelous mountain trekking! And can take your son with you.

How blessed I am to know you and the corner of the world you beautifully describe.:D

Blessings to you and your loved ones this Holiday Season.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR, DEAR FRIEND! I am going to make sure to keep adding winter photos to my blog and gallery so you can experience "back home."

Cheers, Nancy/JJ

Ruahines said...

Kia ora JJ,
Thank you my friend. Your place and your connection to my original place are very important to me. I know from my winters in Wisconsin, and Minnesota that by the middle of Feb. we are ready for spring. My seasons here JJ, on the other side of the world are topsy turvy, and even after almost 18 years I am not used to having Christmas in summer. My soul yearns for my other home. And those weeks when there you are longing for spring, are perhaps the height of our summer weather (seems to peak later over the past decade), those winter photos of yours mean a lot to me, especially those late winter ones, when the hint of spring begin to emerge in old ice and snow, and the hinto of new life ready to bud become apparent. I know that does little to warm you on a late cold winters day JJ, but they put a smile on my face from the other side of the planet. Plus I know Jeff would have the wood pile well stocked and the fire gently blazing. Kia kaha e hoa! May you, Jeff, and your lovely family have a healthy and Peaceful Yuletide Season.

Kiwi Nomad said...

Robb, This is a beautiful post, and it is so good to read about what you have been able to do since your hip has been replaced. I am sorry, but I had to laugh when I read about Charlie's arm! I hope he recovers quickly. It has taken me a while to get my confidence back walking on rougher ground, but I have begun, and your blog is one of my inspirations!
I hope you have managed to get some tramping in over this holiday period. Margaret

Anonymous said...

Enter at your own peril...that is an invitation to some of us...what will the next year bring?

Enter at your own peril...

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Margaret,
Charlie is fine, though chomping a bit to get into the water. The cast comes off this Wed. so not too long now.
I just returned yesterday from 3 days in the Ruahine in the Maropea area, and am heading out in a days time with Pohangina Pete and my old tramping mate John for another 4 days in the northern Ruahine. Should be fun :)
Glad you find some support here. This trip I did a lot of climbing through unmarked terrain, (bush bashing)- and I was very pleased at thow I got on. Just taking it slow and easy is the best approach, and always know you can turn around if need be. Happy Tramping my friend.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora LC,
I feel the same way brother. So much so I need to head out again and think all this through. Peaceful New Year to you and yours as we wade through the peril.
Kia kaha e hoa.