Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Since coming back from the states I have been pretty busy with work. Driving to Wanganui most days, a round trip to the west coast river and sea, not a bad fate. On the recently rare fine days it can be an astonishing drive in late winter/earlyspring. The volcano's lit up in snow covered splendour, Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and the not so silent Tongariro, whose recent belches and spurts have closed the world famous Tongariro track and left an egg like stench permeating our North Island when the wind is right. And of course, for me, the grandest sight of all on a fine day, is the white ribbon like satin appearance of the Ruahine stretching away into the north. Calling me gently.

It occurred to me, that not many years ago, I felt this calling quite differently. A hounding need, and quiet desperation to escape. I am still working out exactly from whom, and from what, but driving today I found myself smiling instead of grimacing and plotting to escape as I would have not too many years ago. I found myself thinking of Tara at home, of my boys. And though none of that is anywhere near perfect, indeed not even close, at least I want to be there as well. So to drive along and look at the Ruahine with a broad smile and the patient feelings of "soon enough, soon enough",  became a new experience for me. I am 52 and still growing and still learning. From people I love and trust, and who love and trust me, and the wild places I love as well.

Just a couple memories to share.......

Tarn on the Whanahuia.

14 Sept. 2001 Howlett's Hut - main Ruahine range... "What a day! A huge snow storm, blustery winds and cold, but beautiful sunshine and blue skies. It was magical. We climbed up from Daphne hut along the dauntingly steep spur to the range. The snow was at river level even 400 plus metres below, so we relished in climbing through the green ferns, the tawahirauriki coated in snow, and up into the tupare, tough and sturdy brushing the snow off like a man in an overcoat. And as the spur narrowed before the ridge we were amongst a winter wonderland.
 Howlett's hut is certainly amongst the most marvelous of any situated in the New Zealand mountains. The Oroua to the west, the Tuki Tuki and Hawkes Bay plains to the east, the full splendour of the main Ruahine range all around. John and I are here alone, a few cups of tea in our favour, and now off to explore the route to Tiraha in the snow. It's wild out there!

Looking back across the Whanahuia and the Oroua valley.

I am always glad I kept these little notebooks. Always a few gems to be revealed. I found one today in the form of words written not by me, but by those I bring into the Ruahine. Mostly American points of view. And if I bring someone into the Ruahine it is for good reason. Here are the words of one such friend, Steve Davidson. I did a crossing with him and my good mate Rich Parduhn, Steve's cousin, back in 2001. It was a nasty weather trip, rain and flooded rivers, cloud obscured tops, the real deal all around. Steve did well. A top man. These are his words...

"Steve Davidson here.. 12/20/01 Visiting with BH from Bayside California.. Tramping, The Ruahine sunset, Maropea Tops, Maropea Forks, Wakelings, Kawhatau river. The next leg in the morning apparently is a vertical drop down to the creek, the river walk and crossings. Checking the flooded depth and rock conditions with your pole. River crossing locations are an art form in indecision. Not too fast of rapids and not too deep. Pool to pool, beach to beach. Every step is important. Tramping is far more difficult than hiking or walking. It involves, walking, hiking, tramping, crawling, and then bashing, and usually in that order. Hiking is pretty easy, tramping is difficult with steep slopes, river drops, the yellow thorn of death (Spaniards), bashing, and even more true is that it does not matter if it its a river, creek, track, or tops. You just find a way. Just get across. Bashing takes more mental and physical prowess. You cannot be afraid. It's only a cliff, or something. No worries. And finally... "Getting your boots wet will be the least of your problems." - the Dobber.

Steve lived. A top bloke indeed.

John by a Spaniard along the Waikamaka. Nasty fauna, but indigenous. They used to be only common on the tops, so to see them here a thousand feet below normal means something.

I shall be in the Ruahine soon enough.

"Somewhere, in the depths of solitude, beyond wilderness and freedom, lay the trap of madness," - Edward Abbey


KB said...

I find that my forays into the wilderness are almost always a balance between the need to escape and the need to be in the wilds. I believe that, for me, the "escape" is from myself - the ungrounded "self" that I become when in civilization for too long. When I am just "being" in the forest, I find a natural sort of meditation that eventually allows me to "escape" from the harsh emotions that life inevitably brings. It also allows me to revel in the good emotions of life.

I guess that, for me, "escaping" versus "going into the wilderness" are not really all that different from each other.

miami lakes kia said...

you are sharing different kinds of valleys,nice!
Kia Sunrise

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind words Dobber

Just got back from a trip to Venezuela and believe me, The Ruhaine tramping is ALOT more difficult than one of the most dangerous country's around.


Take care..Steve Davidson

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Steve,
Well, you were there e hoa. We had a real dose of the Ruahine. And Wellington too as I hazily recall. You are always welcome here.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora KB,
I feel ya' e hoa. Pretty much how I feel as well. Getting that message across to our loved ones, at least for me, can at times be more problematic. I love just Being as well, and most often get there on my own. Kia kaha e hoa. Mauri Ora!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your recent vist and comment Robb. Seems like forever since I've been to the mountains and shared this mutual love of nature with you and others here.
David and I were due to go to New Zealand for David's long service leave, but he suprised me months ago instead with airline tickets to England, Ireland and Germany where our daughter now resides. It became obvious while there that his aortic valve would need replacing much sooner than we expected and much like your experience with hip replacement, we are hoping for 'a new lease of life' (roll on December!) for him that will see us one day able to enjoy together more of what this wonderful world has to offer.
In the meantime thanks for the opportunity,through you, to see spectacular,isolated and awe-inspiring parts of New Zealand that I find fascinating - much appreciated.

troutbirder said...

Interesting and thoughtful posts Robb, as I'm catching up....