So and no otherwise
Hillmen desire their Hills.
– Rudyard Kipling, The Sea and the Hills.
Dawn in Pleasant Gully. The Te Moana River chatters in its bed of stones. A bellbird drops limpid notes from the cover of a broadleaf tree. Wisps of fog hang in the bushy ravines and tussocky basins beneath the summit of Fiery Peak, which stands like a sentinel overlooking the valley. The rising sun paints its bluffs and screes crimson and gold.
I sit on the step of the Pleasant Gully Hut drinking coffee and watching the day arrive. I can see the steep track I will be climbing today. It zig-zags up a long spur and disappears over Fiery Pass, notched into the ridgeline of the Four Peaks Range. The sky is deep blue; this November day promises to be hot. I finish my coffee, close the hut door and set off uphill.
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