Friday, January 8, 2016

The Mountains Within

Kiwi poet John Newton once wrote that mountains are 'a story you tell about yourself, a story you are journeying into, which swallows you'. I have referred to them as 'the castles that bind our land firm', allowing me 'to see as never before'.

Having just returned from a trip into the ubiquitous and unrivalled Darran Mountains with my wife Shelley and good friend David 'Stretch' Newstead, I am reminded, yet again, of the poignancy of those observations. In part, my worries are what becomes swallowed by the nearness of summits, stresses of lack of success and finance and future plans soothed in the balm of thin, crisp air and a cloudless sky.

The curious call of a kea on the wing echoes from cliff faces and within my mind, a cry which goes some distance towards purging whatever doubts I may carry about my own life path, while perhaps highlighting the precarious nature of our mountain parrot's own plight. When we were here the same time last year, a veritable gang of kea did their best to create mischievous havoc among our bivvy and climbing kit, the nights filled with tug-of-war and walking pole warnings.
This year, the kea stayed away. We saw one or two flying around, but is this another sign of the continued reduction in numbers of our most iconic native bird. Perhaps, within my lifetime, their unmistakeable voice will be lost to our mountain environment.

While our main climbing objective turned out to be an uninspiring mess of broken corners and black rock, we still found sun drenched, compact and inspiring slabs that kept us amped, and already planning for our next trip before we had even arrived back in Dunedin.

 The Darran's are my answer to hitting the bottle too hard, right up there alongside perfect waves within walking distance of home - the perfect antidote to whatever might ail me on any given day. Being lucky is not the right term - I have worked hard to be able to enjoy the edges of our environment in this way - but I'm not sure what the correct phrase might be. Not that it matters...