There's A Creek I Know..
There's A Creek I Know...
A Friday night, with truck and many packs and faces all around; with Featherston and beer. And then torches were flashing on the Mangatainoka gravel, leather creaked, and we were pouring on the power up to the fallen logs, fern and bush and Putara. First movement of a powerful concerto.
A rapid re-appraisal of things for me, who had been observing things from the outside, suddenly finding I'm in the thick of it all again. Leatherwood and mist, reliably constant and present like old chaperones. One copes with them without emotion, waiting for the time when they no longer get in the road.
I go each time as though I am opening a Christmas present: sometimes there are many layers of paper to unravel first; and sometimes there is something inside which I didn't want - but then I like the unpredictable nature of these things.
Entry into Chamberlain Creek was effected via the rear of the premises - over the back fence, so to speak - by swerving left at about East Peak. A ramble-tamble jumping go-down, with shouts and skids and a pinnacle climb for extras. Past the gentians and down. Along with the rain water and loose rocks of the region, our descent followed a natural line into the nearest gully. Moss and waterfall on greasy rock.
Swinging down around the leatherwood, with its fading flowers. A crazy fire on grey boulders, with jokes and laughing and the sound of roaring nearby water, we drink tea and sling the bull. Sipping maté in the tiger country.
The country in front of us was suddenly like big stairs, which means waterfalls and decisions to sidle in the leatherwood, and sincere swearing and ripping the daylights out of pack and legs. I think you know what I mean. That was about when we got into the thick stuff, all the side ridges coming in very close and steep around like a big blanket screwed into a big unseen hand; in from the scrub suburbs into Tararua city. Cliff buildings many storeys high. One-way street rivers and intersection-forks with "Cross now" and "Don't Cross" flashing clear across deep strong pools and white water. The sun playing down on the water and boulders alight, strong beams pushing down through the fern to gleam on an underwater log. But these were only glimpses; we had an appointment downstream somewhere, and I for one spent more time in looking where the hell my feet were going to be landing in the next few seconds.
Nipping along undistinguished boulder banks and thrashing through the creek, not getting any warmer either. A golden pack arcs down through twenty-five feet of air to explode a dark pool below, rises briefly on a three foot pedestal of water to subside, rocking gently down the current as its owner and others come hurtling down also. The slam-shock into the water, black and cold, does not diminish with repitition.Dark figures with white faces swim down to the end of the pool, shedding a gallon or so as they stride away again with an urgency borne of the need for warmth. The heart beats fast, we are wide-eyed and fast-breathing like huntsmen. My hands are unfolding from holds as I shiver-traverse a wall to reach the Ruamahanga - a little alarm bell inside goes kang-kang-kang which means "you better get some heat from somewhere fast". So, light a glorious hundred-per-cent hot fire and throw all handy wood into the good cause. Clammy hands clasp around a hot bowl of the steaming sweet stuff and life goes pouring into us again.page 13 page 14 page 15
Then into the river again, faster than ever while pools last, but they soon fade into longer flats; so slummock along in easy strides and sing a little. We go up to where the lakelet could be, and enter an open courtyard in the forest to wade into an incredible still-life scene. A half-moon of still,dark water reflecting the tall trees around and all is so quiet and old. An eel prowls the lake as we examine an islet, like visitors to an old woman's garden. I am seized by the sense of enchantment at this place.
In the evening we go singing along to the forks and the hut where are friends. Darkness comes down from the trees and it's another evening spent talking and looking at the fire.
A hungry grey day greets us; away, away again, up through the forest into the howling mist for a compass-cruise along the ridge; beat a fast exit down the river, whipped along by a wicked wind.
Now my boots are curled up in a tangle on the porch; they'll wait awhile before I take them out for a trot on fast shingle slide again, but then, maybe not too long awhile...