Friday, November 18, 2011

Whanahuia Ora

11/11/11 Whanahuia range of the Ruahine - evening

A stunning campsite on the Whanahuia range on a lovely evening. John Nash and I climbed to the tops and Rangiwahia hut in the early afternoon and rather inclement weather. Late in the day the weather cleared and we quickly decided to pack up and head further up the range towards Mangahuia and camp. Our decision was validated by finding this small piece of flat gravel in the tussock. Just enough for our tent and a little room to sit, which is all we need. We are on the north side of the range looking into the valley know as Venison Gully and across to Deadman's Ridge with an unnamed stream running far below, we can listen to the muttering song up high.

We are being treated to one of the more spectacular sunsets I have been privileged to be part of in my time traveling in the Ruahine. The tussock is lit up to golden brown, then fiery red, in the distance the sun duels with the cloud and mist, treating us to a new vista like clicking through natures own digital camera in real time, and a slow moving bank of smokey cloud moves up the valley reminding us of a maunga taniwha as it crawls up the stream below poking and probing each gut and gully, then retreating back to the flat lands far below. John and I just sit here in the quiet silence of the mountains saying little even though we have not seen one another in some time.  Sometimes more is said not saying anything at all.

John earlier in the afternoon as we set up our little camp. Looking south east towards Mangahuia in the distance.

Settling in with a wee dram and the sunset.

The show begins.

Just a bit above our camp looking west toward the setting sun.

Looking down into Oroua valley the following day. Our destination, Triangle hut is a small red dot almost in the middle of the photo. A lovely spot, and though we could see it, was still many hours away.

Resting by a snow tarn as we make our way north before steeply heading down through the mud and treacherous footing down to the forest and the hut. A good place to refill our water bottles and have a snack before pressing on. A good place period.

Finally down into the high forest after a long battle with the descent. The sun came out and with still another hour or so very steeply down to the river time for some lunch (bagels, cheese, tomato, onion, and salami for me as John is a vegetarian), then a bit of a nap before pressing onwards. What's the hurry?

12/11/11 Triangle hut late afternoon
The rain gently patters on the tin roof, droplets drip slowly off the porch overhang as the Oroua river flows by. A cacophony of water surrounds us. I have seen, I have listened to this, many times before at this very spot, but it is always new, always different. I feel like I am home.
 John sleeps in his down bag as he was not feeling well today, another reason to take it slow and easy on the tops and down through the kaikawaka and tawhairaunui. I made John a few cups of tea and some hot soup and he was already feeling better, and what better spot to curl up in and dream. Sleep well e hoa!
So I have been just sitting here listening, brewing cups of tea in the billy, smiling and laughing. Gathered wood for the stove, and reflected on our day of traveling in the Ruahine. Mostly just smiling. This is my 9th visit here over the years. The hut book goes back to 2004 and the third entry is by John and I. It is barely a third full, so this is a place that is rarely visited, and being here 9 times in an honour I an humbled by. Pohangina Pete's name is here, as are a few others I have come to know in my time in these mountains. My time grows short, so moments like this take on even greater clarity and significance. One day I will be here forever.

John by the stone gorge a short meander up the river from the hut. The whole of the Oroua pours through this gorge, as can be seen by the place John stands. In 2004 the Oroua out on the flat lands flooded through rain up in here and caused untold millions of dollars in damage. The mountains are built for that. What is now farmland used to be "built" for that when it was just bush and forest. Now cleared and "productive" we blame Nature. This very spot tells a huge story.

Triangle hut just in the left side. In the hut book I found a poem I wrote back in 2008, my last visit here. One where I got stuck for 2 days when the river came up through incessant rain, and I sat watched the droplets fall off the porch.

"Hut day at Triangle"

I have used this day to my fullest ability
have run through the rain to use the facility
except in the course of that little caper
neglected to bring the toilet paper
I've chopped wood and stacked it quite high
more than enough for the next man by
sat on the porch just quietly thinking
about how many cups of tea I've been drinking
Rivulets of water drip down from the roof
offering me final and total proof
That a day spent here all toasty and warm
beats the hell out of being out there in that storm

Inside Triangle hut early evening.

Cooking tea. Fresh tomato, red onion and garlic, simmered to a sauce with tarragon and and a smidgen of rosemary, then served over pasta. Really roughing it!

13 November very early morning Triangle hut:
I sit on the porch with a strong mug of coffee and start to watch the mountain morning unfold. These are the days when John and I really have learned how to excel. A day of doing nothing with the whole day to do it. And feel no guilt, or remorse, or regret. To just have enjoyed these moments as much as we possibly can. Yet by the end of this day, the wood boxes will be full to over flowing, the hut cleaned, all the excess rubbish stuffed into bags we will carry out, which amounts to not much  here thankfully and gratefully. We will have walked up river and down, maybe even have tried to climb up some unexamined spur, (though I doubt that). And soon enough I shall be back sitting in this very spot as the sun passes over this valley far sooner than it does on the tops we camped upon. John and I will sit here with something stronger than this coffee in our tin mugs, and we will wonder where the day has gone.

Evening inside Triangle hut - The wood stove creaks and moans as it comes to life. Candle light accentuates, softens, and adds dignity to the already apparent charms of this back country hut as the sun sets on our second evening here on the Oroua river. Neither John or I were concerned with packing up and going anywhere today, particularly with the rain up here a fairly good indicator conditions would not be too pleasant up there. The frantic rushing we used to do, the 8, 9, 10 hour days on the go, the huge endless climbs and descents are for younger legs. At 51 and with a new hip I am content to stay here in spots I love so much and let them fold over me, and enjoy them on their own intimate terms. Like sitting in the high forests quietly and being absorbed by them, and in that stillness see the real forest revealed, so it is too by the rivers - the fact this charming little hut is here an added bonus. My legs are older indeed, but here my heart sings and my soul is young.

Back along the tops of the Whanahuia.

We had to stop on the tops to don warmer gear, but once we turned out of the wind it became calm and still once again. We stopped in the tussock for lunch and a lie down. The cloud rose up in the distance and revealed Te Hekenga, the first time we had seen it on this trip.

14/11/11 Rangi hut - evening. The sunsets in a brilliant show once again, just as it sets on this mountain experience. In the morning a 3 hour walk or so will bring us back to the car and soon back to the world. Though right now here in this moment that seems a long time away and we are content to linger here in the foolishness of things a while more.

15/11/11 morning - Ruapehu, Ngarahoe, and Tongariro, the volcanoes, shimmer in the distance. Taranaki glimmered further to the southwest as well, forced to flee there after fighting with Tongariro for the affection of the beautiful Pihanga. It is said that when Taranaki is covered in cloud it is weeping for it's lost love. It weeps often. I understand how he feels. As I get ready to head down this mountain I miss the Ruahine already.

Kia ora John, Kia ora Whanahuia, Kia ora Ruahine.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Matariki Huna Nui

A Ruahine forest dripping with vibrant energy and force, glistening with Life as the filtering sunlight argues with the swirling cloud above, the forest floor simply sighing as the argument continues, the rich musty aroma of the earth intoxicates my senses. The light and moisture illuminate my path as if I were part of a painting. The pull gets stronger and I must return to this place. My pack and boots await. Soon.

For me, this very place is where a strong part of the soul of the Ruahine resides. This deep part of the forest which has tapped me gently upon the shoulder stronger each time until I finally stopped and Listened, and felt it inside, drank it all in with every part of my being. To implore me to let go of my humanness, and to rather just embrace being part of Everything. As close to any religion or of any God as I will ever get. I was just there with a cheap camera, an observer, yet part of, this incredible scene. The hand of Papatuanuku Herself is at work here. It is almost too much for the eye to take in and process without allowing our very selves to enter it as part of each tiny molecule. It is a place that now draws me closer each time I pass by and spend moments here. And in spite of the relative permanence of the forest itself, the mood and ambiance are forever fluid, much like the whole of this land called Aotearoa. In the Te Ika a Maui, Aotearoa ( the North Island of Aotearoa), the Ruahine was one of the first land masses to nudge her head above the safety of the sea. So the ancient, ethereal feel comes from those earliest moments. I feel like I belong to them.

(Kia ora and aroha to my wild kindred soul Robin Easton for suggesting I expand a mere observation into words about this Matariki huna nui that envelopes my being. She understands.)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ripoinga (memoirs)

I am caught up in a busy period of work, and it will be at least 3 more weeks till I can get out into the mountains for a bit of Quiet Solitude. I found myself dreaming of the mountains on this rather cloudy and grey spring day, and dug out my little note books which has notes, poems (such as I interpet them :)), observations, and ramblings from every trip I have done in the Ruahine going back to 1998 when I started toting them along with me. So to connect me with a place I love so much I am using this exercise to share some of those moments here. Enjoy! Above John overlooks the headwaters of the Mangatera valley from the flanks of Te Atua Mahuru.

28 Sept. 2001 The Hikurangi's in the Ruahine. Somewhere along the ridge to McKinnon hut.
I am now snug in my tent on the open tops of the Hikurangi's, the only range in the Ruahine I have not been until now. A solo trip, and one I felt I needed to refresh my soul. I feel a bit battered with the recent attacks upon the Twin Towers and the inevitable places that will take the world, a few rough patches with work, and most of all trying to be a father and husband as best I can. So I took a few days off and headed up here on a rainy cold afternoon. My pack felt very heavy with 4 days supplies and my new tent attached as I began climbing the very steep spur up from the Kawhatau river to the open tops. I felt tired and sleepy and just wanted to quit and come home yet something in me just kept plugging away, step by step, and as I could see the forest changing to the higher alpine growth my confidence ebbed back slowly, and finally I arrived at the tops. Only to find them shrouded in cloud, mist and wind, and though the route is poled I had difficulty seeing anything beyond 20 metres or so. I carried on until it started to get too dark, and me too tired, and I found a spot in the lee side of the tussock and pitched my new tent. Everything seems nice and snug as I write this by headlamp, the wind rushes up in gusts but all seems secure. No hot meal this evening and I wish I would have brought more water. Feeling a bit better, a test of my mental toughness to get here. I am truly cloud hidden.

29 September 2001 Crow Hut.
Yesterday seems like a lifetime ago. I sit here now listening to the song of the Kawhatau river below the hut, the sky an amazing blue, the sun warm and comforting, and the doubts and worries I felt yesterday washed off like the grime of hard work when I dove into the bracingly ice cold pool below. I awoke to very gusty winds and driving rain just before daybreak. I quickly packed up and headed along the ridge towards McKinnon, picking my way through the cloud pole to pole up to the high point of 1645 metres. Then steeply down to McKinnon where I arrived to the empty hut just after 8:00a.m. Glad to to be there! It is in a very cool location sheltered below the Hikurangis and with the Kawhatau valley below and the Mokai patea to the north, and the main Ruahine range across to the east, the view is spectacular. Though I had refilled my water bottle in the lake size tarn I still drank deeply from the water tank, then set about cooking up a huge breakfast. 4 eggs, 2 potatoes, 3 rashers of bacon, 1 onion, garlic, and chunks of cheddar cheese - hopple popple, cook the onion and garlic, then the potatoes, then the bacon, then crack the eggs on top, and when just set, add the cheese and cover till melted. Salt and pepper to taste and Yum! I ate the lot. The big camp oven here at the hut worked a treat.
I then relaxed by crawling into my sleeping bag, reading my book, then feel asleep as the wind howled overhead and the rain beat upon the tin roof. I awoke just before noon to complete silence. And when I opened the door of the hut to look outside was almost blinded by the brilliant sunshine, blue sky, and stillness all around, not a breath of wind. Just an incredible turn of events from struggling across the tops a few hours earlier. I packed up while having a few strong coffees and then began the steep drop to the Kawhatau river and Crow hut. The forest just hummed and glowed with energy and the sunlight filtering through the trees and bush just astounded my senses with overwhelming shades of green everywhere. Soon the river came muttering into my descent and before I knew it I was sitting beside the crystal clear water slaking my thirst. So I have now spent a glorious afternoon at Crow hut, drying my gear, setting up my tent to dry out, and just standing and gazing out toward Rongotea which looms over the valley and watching the afternoon light play on her flanks and golden tops. I dove into the cold water and howled with joy, and I sat there shivering with joy and letting the sun warm me a whio flew by. A perfect day.

Cloud and mist shroud the Kawhatau valley. On the Mokai Patea climbing out of Crow hut.

28 December 2005 - Waterfall hut
What an amazing day, full of fun, adventure, woe, decisions,validation, and as always in the Ruahine, great beauty. John and I left McKinnon hut in very good conditions early this morning, climbed up to Huikurangi (1701m), then onto Mangaweka, the highest point in the entire Rauhine range. It all involves a bit of route finding, tussock bashing, and climbing, but on a clear still day such as this it presents no real issues. John and I have seen no one for three days and we stood alone upon Mangaweka and relished the views in all directions. We decided to descend via what we thought was Iron Peg creek, and the day being fine and feeling good we happily scampered down the steep tussock and slid down into the creek. Only to soon find we had picked the wrong creek, one between Trig and Iron Peg, and there was nothing for it now but to follow it down. We spent over two hours climbing out onto sheer tupare and Spaniard covered cliffs and bluffs to avoid waterfalls, other times simply climbing down through falls and down through the slippery steep creek, removing our packs and lowering them with the rope. It was dicey nerve wracking stuff, a place where one wrong step could have meant real trouble. When the creek finally leveled out a bit then met with the real Iron Peg creek I flopped down beside John and we didn't say anything, just sat there. We didn't have to, we both knew we had been very fortunate to extract ourselves from a dangerous situation. More lessons learned. Glad to be at Waterfall hut, wee dram in hand for a quiet celebration.

23 April 2004 Pourangaki hut
 I am feeling very content in this moment in the Ruahine. Quite happy with a solo day traversing these mountains off the beaten track, across two ranges, to arrive here safely. For me, that is a big deal, to find a level of confidence to do that, and today it all clicked, it all felt right, made sense. It has taken me 10 years to feel that here in the mountains, so I feel like it was a big breakthrough. I needed to expand my boundaries. Since Nigel has moved to Korea it is either find other people to tramp with, don't tramp, or go by myself. I am learning to enjoy being on my own in the mountains very much, and I am not so sure that I take more risk on my own than with someone else. With others, such as Nigel and John, I can rely on their experience, or get a false sense of security in numbers, where as on my own it is all on me. In the mountains that is a big deal. I have seen no one for 3 days, which surprises me as a few deer are still roaring, but that suits me well. When I arrived here there was a hind in back of the clearing by the hut and she quietly disappeared into the thick forest, and shortly after a Karearea, or native New Zealand falcon flew over. Good signs.

One of the pleasures of winter travel in the Ruahine!!

"The wind plays notes on every branch, and flutters each leaf
she misses not one
water adds a chorous, the unrelenting droplets of rain like shiny baubles
from the sky
Splattering, Hissing, Dripping
onto the forest floor
joined by the quiet plops from off the lush green bush
Then the crescendo of the raging river deafens me
brown, dirty, angry, dominating
until I climb away from her again
The symphony of the stormy mountain forest
overwhelms my senses and fills me with joy
with the sheer wildness of it all
remote responsibility for myself
The mountain hut lies ahead
sanctuary, warmth, dry clothes, billy to boil
Yet the rain will still bounce upon the roof
and outside the river will still sing".

Nigel, John, Robb, somewhere between Longview and Howlett's on the main range.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I am not from this place. I came from elsewhere, drawn to some vague definition of "responsibility", but also an unexplained deep urge within that called to me. As a young boy my grandfather gave me a huge hard covered book of Life Magazine photos and snippets of the world from the 1950's. There was one photo that always stirred something within me, it was a photo of New Zealand, so beautiful and so calling. The place that photo was "taken" is not so very far from where I write these words. There was also a comfort in the photo and accompanying caption that this was a very English world, so they spoke, more or less, like me, and thought, more or less, like me. I was only 8.
When I came here, I discovered a place, in the above photo, that held true all the things I felt as a kid back in Green Bay, Wisconsin. But what has become also true, is that this is not my place. The land, the earth herself (Papatuanuku) has a hold on me and an ancient connection I am still struggling to understand, but the place, the original human inhabitants of this place, were not me, or of me. The mountains above which I love and honour were traversed and used by Maori, the original people, and most peaks, features, and rivers reflect that truth. It does not demean or lessen what I am finding in these mountains, the Ruahine, it only enhances us all. Why is that so difficult for so many people to acknowledge? So for me, a white immigrant to a far away land which I love, New Zealand has become Aotearoa.

"On the porch at Maropea Forks" - July 2002
The rain patters on the tin roof
drumming her song, the endless symphony
of the river joins the chorous
These echoes have called me often
So I Listen
to this ancient music once again
not lonely
Intensely fullfilled
The fear I have felt in my solitude is real
This is a Path filled with potentail woe
Yet here I am in the bosom
of this place
I am Home


Thursday, August 18, 2011


I love the mountains. And a certain range of mountains, the Ruahine, in particular. From the first time I set foot in them back nearly 20 years ago, something inside me knew I was home, that this place on the other side of the world from where I grew up was where I felt most at home. I still recall with vivid clarity a moment coming down from that day walk up Gold Crown ridge with Nigel and John, it was a very hot day and I had much to learn about travel in the mountains being a flatland Wisconsin boy such I was. Carrying enough water was one lesson. As Nigel climbed down ahead into the forest John and I looked down through the tupare and tawhairariki to a stream far below. We could hear it faintly, see the clear green depths of her pools, and the satiny ribbon whiteness of the rapids - and we were thirsty! Even with my thirst I was tingling inside, feeling excited and alive as I had in many years. I knew part of me would never leave these mountains.

A very good friend of mine back home in Wisconsin died this past week, far too soon at the age of 50. Tim Revane never climbed any towering mountains, he never traveled to distant lands, I am not even sure he ever left Wisconsin, he never wrote any books or went to university, he will not have any statues built in his honour, no lofty tributes from on high will grace the news recalling his feats. This will have to do. For in a circular way it was my friendship with Timmer, and the time I spent with him, and others, that brought me to that moment I described above, and gave me the presence to recognize it happening. Timmer most likely would not even acknowledge what I am writing about here, but rather he would smile at me as he opened a beer and lit another cigarette and say, "Dobber, let's go fishing".

Above is a photo of The Barbaric Open - a golf tournament we held every year in the late 80's to early 90's when I moved here to New Zealand. We played on courses from Minneapolis to Milwaukee and we were never invited back to the same one twice. Timmer is the 5th in from the right, in front of him his brother Bob, and behind Bob in the blue cap is Rick Parduhn - whom has tramped here in the Ruahine. One of my oldest friends, Quinn, is seated on the bus, with his brother Mitch in front of him, me holding young Colin Pollesh (who would now be approaching his mid 20's!), on my right in the blue tee shirt is Phils, and to his right in the blue shirt is Gustav, whom has been in the Ruahine many times and now lives in Tasmania. The guy with the arm around the fellow next to Gustav is Todd, the father of young Colin, and now a charter boat captain on Lake Michigan, and closest on the left is Iron Mike, the other brother of Tim and Bob and also one of my oldest friends.

Timmer in the crash helmet with Mitch ready to board his amply supplied golf cart. This was vintage Timmer. In a bus load of characters and personalities he always had a surprise, or a perfect comment on any situation. Then he would just sit back and laugh.

An evening at Selen's in Milwaukee, a sort of going away gathering before I left on this part of my life to join Tara here in New Zealand. She had returned earlier as her visa had expired, and on the day she left we found out she was pregnant out in San Francisco. Interesting times. Out of a lot of my mates one of the most supportive was Tim in his own unique way. He kept my car running, helped me move, kept the whiskey flowing, took me fishing, made sure I had lots of venison - big chunks marinated in orange juice and grilled rare on the Weber. He always planned to come over to fish and hunt and see these mountains I was so fond of. He never did. So it is up to me to take him there with me and I will.
Above: Todd, Phils, Timmer, me, Iron Mike, Bogger, and Tony Maio. Enjoying the best prime rib in Milwaukee and all the trimmings.

A spot of croquet on the afternoon of my 30th birthday. Summer 1990. Iron Mike playing out of the rough while Todd and Timmer eye up the situation, me not really caring much, Roaster - another Ruahine veteran, Bob, and Phils.

Timmer loved to fish and hunt. At a time not long after my birthday I struggled a bit. A relationship ended badly, I quit a job I hated and went back to school. Timmer decided I needed to start fishing again, which I had not in years. He took me out and reignited the flame within me. He taught to me to slowly stalk and hunt fish from shore, to do it with purpose and stillness. Yet is was being outside that meant more to me, the smell of the woods, the sunlight glistening on the lake, this stirring inside of me I had yet to understand. So I eventually returned to the Boundary Waters, a magical place of lakes, woods, rivers, bears, and wolves, and accessible only by canoe. My friend Quinn and I spent 8 amazing days there and relished each second. I owe that to Tim and he recognizing something in me I didn't even see myself. I needed to go fishing.

Sitting by the fire on Mahlberg lake. 3 days paddle from the nearest road end.

A walleye caught from shore. A few more and dinner is served.

The final evening at Bashatong Lake. May the waters on the other side be as still for your paddle my brother, may the walleye be large and hungry, the woods full of deer, and the firewood dry. Keep that fire burning e hoa. See you soon.

"Farewell farewell,
Let the heavens mumble and stutter
Let them acknowledge your leaving us
Mine is the lone gull's cry in the night
Let my grief hide the moon's face
Let alien gods salute thee and
with flashing knives cut open
the dark belly of the sky
I feel rain spit in my face
I bear no malice, let none stain my valedictions
For I am at one with the wind
the clouds heave and the slapping rain
the tattered sky with the wild solitude
of the sea and the streaming earth
which I kneel to kiss............."
Hone Tuwhare - Lament (1)
Deep River Talk - Collected Poems

Friday, July 29, 2011


27 July Heritage Lodge, Oroua Valley
Robb Kloss
Charlie Kloss
I was on my way yesterday on the road and looking forward to a four or five day solo trip into the wintry Ruahine. A very cold southerly has blown in, and the snow was down very low in the hills, and covering the far off peaks in a shimmery glowing white satin against the foreboding grey skies. I pulled the car over and sat looking at the view out there and dealt with the thoughts tumbling through my brain. Then I turned the car around and returned home. I had decided to take Charlie with me. He wants to be in the snow. He was down in Wellington for the day with Tara, so this meant I lost a day, and also a bit of logistical reorganizing, but the feelings that ran through me looking at those peaks told me to get my son. So I did.

So here we are after walking into Heritage in the early afternoon and settling in for a big day walk in the morning up to Tunupo Peak and the snow. The southerly has blown through and the warmer northerly bringing wind and rain and easy low lying snow is gone, so some tough work lies ahead for the Chomper to see snow. I had planned to be far deeper in at either Iron Gate or Triangle on my own, instead I am here with Charlie, and that has it's own wonderful charms. We spent a while gathering, chopping, sawing, and stacking wood, and now the lovely confines of the hut are warm and cozy. We are joined by Mike, a retired gentleman who has put out a small line of possum traps a short way up the valley towards Tunupo creek, doing 'feasibility study" as he puts it. There is good money in possum fur at the moment, but it is very very hard work. Interesting how a cup of tea and sharing a warm hut in the wilderness brings out the good things about human company. I love my solitude and will always relish seeking it, but here now in this moment with Charlie and Mike it all seems right.

Charlie doing the dishes after a tea of marinated steak with Chinese rice and cashews.

Charlie has taken in interest in why I spend time out here huddled up with my little notebook, and picked up and my pen and book, and has graciously given me permission to share a few of his thoughts... " Charlie here. Sitting by the lamp here writing stuff on a nice night, though it is shitting itself outside with rain. I was thinking about my dumb brother and how we discovered he has broken the zipper on my new sleeping bag, he is the only one he used it. Now you can't zipper it up, which is sort of the whole point of a sleeping bag. Mike is pretty cool, his stuff was here but he didn't get here till late, so I thought he might be hurt or dead. Dad didn't seem too worried. It is heaps warmer in here now than when we arrived and the fire looks cool. Me and dad are about to have some big juicy steaks. I bet the way it is raining mum would love it so much as it is raining even harder than last time we were here, and she loves the rain on the tin roof. It is a bit quiet except all the rain, but still lets me focus more. THE END.

The mountain tawhairaunui reaching for the sky against the droplets of rain. The beseeching limbs always remind me of the mountain spirit Herself. Trying to tell us what we refuse to hear. Listen!

Robb: It was a bit more difficult getting my head around returning to the mountains than I thought after my last experience with Taylor. So I am surprised a bit by the notion which overtook me to change my plans and collect Charlie. Maybe the thought of being on my own was more daunting than I thought. But I don't think so, as the thought of being further up the valley on a stormy night in a smaller less posh hut still makes me sigh with a small tinge of regret that it is NOT where I am. Or maybe it was the mountain spirits themselves knowing me better than I know own myself. I like the thought of that for some reason.

Up onto the ridge. A couple days ago this all would have been covered in snow. 600 metres or so. We had a long way to go and did not get into snow until well over 900 metres. Still, the winter forest above heaves and sighs with energy, colour, and steepness!

Charlie looking for snow ahead. Not yet mate!

Finally! Nearly two hours after starting our climb did we get into any real snow still around. As a kid who grew up with Wisconsin winters, it takes a fair bit of snow to impress me. But through the eyes of a child who has NEVER been in amongst the stuff, it is a real amazing experience to observe. Especially when the kid has to work so hard, and climb so high to see it.

The hump below is the ridge to Tunupo peak we were climbing. A long steadily climbing ridge, which then steepens considerably when finally emerging out of the forest into the tupare and tussock. Gazing up at the route ahead.

Charlie got a fire in the belly once we saw a bit of snow. Climbing up with a big smile on his face.


A phone call to mum. The final push to Tunupo lies in the background. The weather up was getting considerably cold, misty and cloudy. Not too much longer from here and I pulled the pin to Charlie's chagrin.

The far off Whanahuia's on a stormy winter day.

Heading back down. A lot of work still ahead.

Lower in the forest the mosses and lichens began to glow. There is a lot going here in this photo.

An old familiar friend.

"Winter Ruahine"
The scents of the winter forest greet me
the musty earthy loveliness
assures me of my place here
the flapping wings of the chubby Kereru
like the forlorn song of the whio further below
and the gentle towering presence of the tawhairaunui
all familiar and real
like the aroma of fresh brewed coffee
or the Thanksgiving delights in my grandmother's oven
muddy steep tracks that never end
pulling us upward guided by the glow and shine
of the mosses and lichens
we climb to the tupare
to the snow
my child has never seen till now.

Charlie back below, a short few minutes to Heritage, warm fresh gear and hot drinks. It was a 6 hour effort round trip to get up there and back to see a bit of snow. I think he will remember this.

Robb and Charlie