Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The challenge of the Routeburn Trek

The Routeburn Trek

years ago we heard of a 3 day hike
deep in the South Island of New Zealand: 
the Routeburn Trek they call it,
here in these Southern Alps
where rough rock mountains erupt to the sky,
and rain drenches them enough
to create the lush wonders of a temperate rain forest,

snow caps the peaks even in high summer,
impressive glaciers, for a few more years,
until climate change dooms them to the fate of the dinosaur,

the trek a trial for our aging bodies:
hard pulls up and down slopes,
often so rocky that each step forces
consideration, care, and chancing effort,

we hike through two days of drizzling to pelting rain,
with vistas closed down to the immediate around us,
and then opening enough to let us glimpse
impressive precipices just above and beyond us,

amazing vistas teasingly revealed a bit
as cloud and mist slip off
to reveal just enough to hint of what might be 
behind the swirling gray fabrics,

each step on the trek a step into green mansions of wonder,
with incredible mosses and lichens and ferns, everywhere,
a richness and diversity that the best flowering gardens
we can make only hint at in their glory,

great trees here are draped in splendor
as if for a druid meeting,
I feel that Treebeard could have just been here and tended them,
a world of faerie gardens and waterfalls,
water drops and flows on the trail
and roars in ribbons and cataracts of white down the slopes,

I keep pulling out my camera, despite the wet,
in hopes of remembering these glimpses of glory,
too often drops of water on the lens
remember too well water’s distortion of clarity,

high up on the Saddle
the second day’s trek climaxes with a high beauty
that takes our hearts into transcendence for a time,

our last day dawns with some patches of blue
and flames of color to the east,

vistas open!
the valley beneath flat with a ribbon of river reflecting the early light,

while above us, the great river falls greater than ever,

as we make our way down the mountain,
more and more vistas of high peaks, steep valleys,
and waterfalls reveal themselves,
every step garlanded by more beauty than the heart can hold,

a particular wonder opens to us at a side stop by the river,
kea (the New Zealand parrot) alive with each other, and just before us,
juveniles cavorting and putting on a show,

as we finish the trek,
the water waxes fuller and fuller,
while my energy wanes lesser and lesser,

what an effort!
what a glory!
what a joy!
what an effort. . . 

by Henry H. Walker
March 6, ’16

1 comment:

Karen Stewart said...

Beautiful Henry, thank you for sharing!