Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Autumn Thoughts

27 March 2014..Top Maropea
I think back a few months ago, waiting over at Sunrise with Tara for the gales to subside and allow us to dash across the exposed tops to here and beyond. The gales never did, and we had to head home thwarted. It happens.

My experience today one of blissful blue skies, sunshine, and the slightest gentle breeze from the south. A crossing to relish, to move slowly and deliberately, to enjoy each moment in the knowledge of what it can be like up there on a bad day slightly unsure, even afraid. I wonder if how much I appreciate being here is also in direct proportion to the number of times, like with Tara, when I have not been here, or have been up there fighting fierce winds, rather than the pleasant stroll I experienced today.  Perhaps that also can apply to people in our lives as well. I have another handful of cashews while I ponder...

                                           Approaching Armstrong saddle just beyond Sunrise hut.

                                      Time to lie in the sun and enjoy. Even the flies were feeling lazy.

                                         Top Maropea just before sunset......

Late afternoon....I was last here in September of last year. John and I came through from Sunrise and stopped for a cup of tea before heading down to the valley and Maropea Forks for a few days, and on the way back Pohangina Pete met us along the way and joined us for a night here at Top Maropea. It was a fine evening, one of real contentment and camaraderie in the company of two men I hold in great esteem. It feels like if I close my eyes and listen deeply there is Pete's quiet chuckle and John's more cynically tinged laughter rolling by on the breeze. It's a nice thought anyway. There are a lot of such echoes for me here.

Evening...settled into the cozy confines of the hut for my 42nd evening. The fire is blazing away nicely as I had plenty of time to gather and saw up my wood supply. The warmth here is mostly illusion for as soon as I let the fire die down and climb into my sleeping bag this hut will turn into an ice box. I accept that. Right now with the glow of the candles, the crackling of the fire, a few wee drams, and dinner to prepare, I am as warm as I need to be....

I will never tire of seeing the sunset painted upon the far off ridges, peaks, and valley. Each one unique and new, some vivid and alive, some shrouded or hidden in mist and cloud. On a still quiet evening like this I can sit here quietly and observe the changes. The minutiae in each subtle moment.

                             "When you are old and gray and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire, take down this book and slowly read, and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep."....W.B. Yeats

Early morning light on the the tawhairauriki. Steeply down the ridge to the stream, then river.

28 March late morning....Camped at the confluence of the stream and Maropea river on an open river flat where the sun beams down. I was going to head further down river but arriving here just felt right and soon the tent was up. I am going to explore up the west branch of the river where I have not been before. There is  a grove of beech across the stream where I once camped with Taylor and Nigel. Taylor was only 8 years old and the next day we headed down to Maropea Forks for a few days. The campsite was an old culler or hunters camp. The old dilapidated stone fireplace is still there with a few old blackened billies hanging from it, and the remnants of an old tarp still half buried covered with rocks. There are echoes here as well.

``28 March...late afternoon camped on the Maropea river.
"I had a nice long nap in my tent to escape the blazing afternoon sun. Then I had a strong cup of sweet tea before wandering down to the river and bathing in the icy river. I feel fresh, clean, and alive. As if the cold clear water not only washed away the dirt, sweat, and grime I have accumulated through the toils of getting here, but has also cleansed me inside as well. The unnecessary burdens in my very soul that have been washed away by the mountain river and carried down to the sea where they will be absorbed into it all. Baptized in the wild waters of the Ruahine..

The Maropea. A bit too far up I suspect to see any whio, but a very spectacular stretch of river I had not seen before.

Evening...inside my tent writing by headlamp. Once the sun disappeared over the valley it got cold very quickly. It is cozy in here, at least right now. I am using Charlie's small down bag more as a blanket than a bag, as my big but 15 year old MacPac fell apart at the seams after the last tramp. It is a little bit like trying to snuggle my large frame under a tea towel. Oh well...time for a new sleeping bag.

It was a lovely walk up the river. It is very tight and suddenly on bends opens into large flats with sheer cliffs and side streams heading up into easier forest. If I was still hunting deer it would be country where I would be hanging out a lot.

I'm feeling much lighter than a few short days past. At least of spirit. A busy period of work and stress over and behind me. And instead of deadlines, administration systems, emails, and phone calls, all I have had to focus upon is when it is day or night, tea or coffee, cashews or macadamia nuts, and the entire simplicity of just being here. And the ease of putting away my pen, turning off my light, snuggling somehow into my tiny nest and listen to the sound of the river outside lull me to sleep.

How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!  ~John Muir

I melt into the decaying softness of the old tawhairaunui
What ancient flood and moody day brought her here?
Sitting upon the mosses which claim her I ponder this
as a wisp of breeze blows through
Like the forest around me I simply sway with it's passing
then settle into the old log once again
The river slides past
joyful murmurs today over the greywacke
mountains once far away
like the tawhairaunui
also on the way to sea
I came here to shed burdens
now trivial
for all around me is a dance to join
the old log, the greywacke, the river, and me....