Years of tramping, camping and running have given me a deep appreciation for tussocks. I love tussock landscapes, the sense of openness they engender, the muted colour palate, the unassuming way they stand in the background letting the sky, alpine tarns, lakes, pretty much anything show off. Tussocks are nature’s camera with their ever-changing texture beautifully recording and reflecting back the cycles of light and moisture. They have a slippery, soggy- ball consistency after heavy rain. They shimmer and sparkle when the rain clears and sunshine finally achieves cut through. They take on a special glow as the first rays of sunshine hit them at dawn and the last rays of sunshine bid their farewell. Tussocks have a great capacity to absorb light. This ability effectively softens ridgelines giving them a deceptively benign appearance. The sticky, spiky standing at attention attitude they adopt when frost coated. The way they ripple and wave collectively when the wind gets in their hair. Their amazing slipperiness in all conditions, especially when wet.
Moist, wispy clag mopes lethargically around us as we pitch our tent on a small, snow bald outcrop at 2451m. Scott Peak towers above us blocking the view across to Welcome Pass but not our main objectives the Douglas Neve and Mt Sefton. The former a glistening collection of crusty white wrinkles hinting at the plethora of crevasses laid out like an enormous three dimensional jigsaw puzzle. The latter glowering in the distance shadowed by its’ more muscular neighbours, La Perose, Tasman and Cook behind. Continue reading “Mt Sefton”→
One of the great advantages of being a pessimist is that you are often pleasantly surprised. I thought that compared to NZ the Pyrenees would be over crowded, difficult to navigate physically and linguistically, and scenically underwhelming. I was proven wrong on all counts. Continue reading “Getting high in the Pyreneese”→
White light streams off dewy fields. Steam rises off the road’s shiny asphalt surface. The dawn feels soupy as we stroll north on SH6, coast on the left, farmland on the right. Already sweating we turn inland at the Wanganui Valley access road and clamber gratefully into the coolness of Tarpot Creek. After a bit of a wallow up the creek bed we identify the tired track, periodically resuscitated with tape by hunters. The ground trail of the hunted is easier to spot and sometimes we follow it instead. The forest starts off reasonably open and pliant by West Coast standards but we’re soon climbing and sidling a bush face to reach a side ridge. The side ridge connects to the ridge that leads to the Karnbach Range. By now we are negotiating barely penetrable scrub about the same time the gradient tilts to precipitous. Topping out on the crest of the Karnbach my arms are pumped, my hair is full of twigs, expletives are flowing as easily as a shortness of breath will allow and I’m wondering why I’m not jetting up the Landsborough. DJ points behind me to the Lord Range and the view of the snowy top of Mt Lambert and the Lambert Glacier at the edge of the Garden of Allah. We all grin recalling Xmas 2009.
Maybe it’s the commitment involved in getting there, the satisfaction of realising a dream, the fun had along the way, the attraction of the unexpected and unknown, the company, the seclusion, the beauty. The allure of special places like the Gardens is intense, immediate, magnetic and addictive. Continue reading “To the Ice Plateaus and Beyond”→