Lockdown/Slowdown Post #7: Micro Hydro

05/08/2020 by

The Powerspout micro-hydro in action last spring during its initial trial run, when we had a running stream. During Lockdown, it was Conner’s and my job to build a more permanent footing and structure for this gizmo, and to secure the intake. More on that later…stay tuned. We’ll show you images and text of this hydro system, called the Powerspout, how we set it up, how the company configured the system to our water flow and drop, (called head) and how it works now that we’ve got water flowing in our stream. It’s the perfect dovetail to our solar. Tons of sun in the summer and tons of water in the stream in the winters.

 

20191031_173002 copy

Lockdown/Slowdown Post #6: Prussiking up a Climbing Rope

02/08/2020 by

20200409_143358 copy

 Conner @mobutta_mobetta tries his hand at the next addition to our obstacle course, which we added every day to the course, the crevasse self-rescue. All that’s needed is a length of climbing rope, a climbing harness, a locking carabiner, a waist and double-foot prussik, and don’t forget a small retrieval line that serves to pull down the girth-hitched rope when its ready to be dismantled. Want more info..get in touch. I used to teach this to our clients on the flanks of Mt.Baker for Alpine Ascents I’l, before venturing out onto the glacier with them. It’s good fun and tests rope skills, and can be a good workout depending on how fast you try and get up the rope. Pitting two people against each other is also fun and ups the ante.

Lockdown/Slowdown Post #5: Micro Hydro Trench Begins

30/07/2020 by
20200320_181631 copy

A very long trench through glacial moraine deposits! Arggh. But for a good cause! Our Micro hydro electrical feed to the house.

One of our first projects during lockdown: We were able to pick up an excavator before the restrictions took place, Here is a very long electrical trench from the new micro-hydro unit to the house which now needed to be filled in. With the help of the excavator and our “Woofrs” (Willing Workers on Organic Farms), Jess and Conner, from the states. the backfill went well. Since this picture was taken, we’ve had the hydro system running for 4 weeks now, and it sure is rewarding! It’s the perfect dovetail to our solar panels which crank in the summer months. Since there’s a lack of sun during our winter months, the secure feeling that we’re generating electricity from the stream is a wonderful feeling. It cost a bit to get it running, but as they say, “It can be complicated living simply” Ah, not really, but there is some planning involved. It’s more than just flipping a switch and paying an electrical bill.  I don’t miss the latter though! More on the hydro system in later posts.

Rush Hour, Mountain Spirit Style

28/07/2020 by

A mob of sheep from Lake Hawea Station are herded by Jeep and dog past our gate and across the small ford where they pause for a drink. More than once we’ve been late because of these traffic jams, which are a welcome reminder to slow down, smell the flowers, and…the sheep.

Bumper to Bumper traffic outside our gate today

Sunrise Magic at Mountain Spirit, NZ

27/07/2020 by

For a brief moment, sunrise rays touch Cardrona Mountain above Wanaka, then vanish. As seen through some of our tipi poles this morning. Early bird catches the shot, or it’s gone.

Lockdown/Slowdown Post #4

27/07/2020 by

20200328_135518

Using a rope ladder as part of the daily obstacle course. We added a new element every day.

It was clear early on,  that lockdown with a child at home from school, was going to require creativity.  We were going to have to come up with some activities. We decided to create an obstacle course by adding a new element every day. We started by taking some old climbing rope and making a rope ladder with alternate foot loops. Make sure you make the loops big enough so they’re easy to slip into, and not too far apart. It was surprising how much rope we used! #purenewzealand #lakewanakanz #wanaka #mountainspirit #kidsactivities #obstaclecourse #challengecourse

Lockdown/Slowdown #3

24/05/2020 by

Lots, and lots of apples. We have 111 fruit and nut trees, most of which are apple. Conner and Jess helped us with this year’s harvest.

98602945_1634116800091036_217495739415134208_o

We then made apple sauce, butter, apple cider vinegar and maybe we’ll get at some apple crumble before we’re all done. Later you’ll see our trial and errors at making an apple press and the final results! Yum.#purenewzealand #lakewanakanz #wanaka #lovewanak
#mountainspirt #applecider #mountainspirit

We’ve Lost a Good One.

24/05/2020 by

This post is dedicated to the late Maria Figueroa Norabuena, who I consider the heart of my Peruvian Family. The matriarch, she died recently of complications while in Lima getting medical treatment, and is survived by her husband Daniel, (pictured), a large family of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren mostly in Huaraz, and the surrounding villages, in Peru.  She lived in a small hamlet outside of Huaraz where she and her husband baked bread for many of the townspeople and restaurants in Huaraz. They also grew crops and had farm animals.  My condolences go out to Daniel and his family.

Daniel and Maria

Daniel, and his late wife Maria of Huaraz, Peru

I met Maria through my friend David Sanchez Figueroa, co-owner of the vegetarian Restaurant Salud y Vida, (Health and Life) when I was mountain guiding in Huaraz some years ago. I became godfather to her grandchild Joseph, and have always felt part of the family. It must be a past-life thing but we’ve all been very close over the years of visits.

With the coming of video calling, I was able to keep in close contact with the whole family, and especially with Maria while she was with her daughter in Lima undergoing treatment.  I had the opportunity to spend some screen-time with her before she died and am so grateful for that time. It reminds me, again that life is short.

I have a vivid image, (and a video), in my mind of my wife Amanda, and Maria, playing “Laugh Dancing” in the restaurant’s kitchen. Someone starts a sound track, and the object of the game is partner up with someone, and dance with a straight face. The first one to crack a smile, usually caused by the opponent’s antics, loses. Maria won, hands down. I don’t remember the exact maneuver she pulled, but it had us (all generations of the family) laughing hysterically.

When I first came to Peru as a mountain guide, Maria used to pinch my cheek with her fingers, saying “Que Pena” (“What a pity”) when she learned at my age of 40+, I still had no wife or child. (Since then I’ve been married since 2009 with an eight-year-old son, which made Maria much more happy with me) Every climbing season, when I’d come back into town, she’d give me the pinching, “Que Pena” again, when I was still in the same sorry state.

Becoming a Godfather to her grandchild, Joseph, and seeing what family can really be in Peru, changed me. I grew up as a bit of a narcissist, mountain guiding, single, and although an outdoor educator, still caught up in my seeking the perfect high. A light bulb when off in my heart when I observed what family really means in the indigenous an Latino sense. We had Peru on our short list of destinations of where we were considering having a family, precisely because of that observation.

Maria was a strong woman with a keen sense of self, sense of humour, a huge heart, and a fantastic matriarch who will be missed by her large family, and even… a gringo here in New Zealand.

Since this post, I’ve received this comment from Maria’s grandaughter, Jina (translated from Spanish):

Thank you very much Randall for this publication in tribute to my beloved Grandmother, she was just as you describe her, she left such an imprint on every corner she traveled, she was a woman very loved by all of us who now mourn her sudden departure. You are right, she was in a very delicate treatment that began in January, but on 15.05.2020 her body did not resist.  I still remember every joke she made to me, even one day before her death we joked, and she laughed out loud.  Always her take on life was all joy.
Perhaps you were motivated by her to form your own home, with her phrase, “what a shame”, because she wanted to see everyone with family, family as she had it with my grandfather, who showed that true love exists.
Their advice is recorded in my heart.

I’ll never forget my grandmother. She will always be in my memory and heart.

Huaraz Maria Obit

Near the hamlet in which Maria lived, with the Cordillera Blanca, Peru’s highest mountain range, in the near distance (copyright 2020 Dexter R Richards)

Don’t do it! Don’t Go Back to Normal

24/05/2020 by

This wonderful statement by Sony Renee Taylor has been circulating around lately, and it’s surely a wake up call –

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”
You can find out more at the Facebook page Over Grow the System

And from Brenna Quinlan on her Facebook page….

100630323_2925577994216748_3387860350429822976_o
The first step towards creating something is imagining it. We imagine the smell of fresh bread as we tend our sourdough starter. We imagine the taste of ripe tomatoes as we plant out our seedlings. When we lay down the first stone, we imagine laughter and stories from future meals shared in our new home. The ability to create, in our minds, a possible future, is what gives that possibility a chance of being realised.

If all we imagine is business as usual, then that is the world we will create. But if we draw on our curiosity and creativity, we can hold in our minds something much greater than the world we are in. And once that happens, we can begin to act. Find out more about Brennan here.

Lockdown/Slowdown #2

24/05/2020 by

All of our images in this series will be in mostly chronological order, except for this one, which tells the story of how we all fared by the wind-down of phase 3 into phase 2.
Our lockdown bubble was my wife Amanda, our son Dexter, and our two “Woofrs” (willing workers on organic farms) who we took in the day before lockdown here in New Zealand.

98359208_1633799503456099_329296164786536448_o

We lucked out with Conner and Jess, professional farmers from Maryland, who rode out the uncertain times with us. This shot was taken the morning the left for another Woofing position. They worked hard on many projects here at Mountain Spirit. One of which was the design of the apple press pictured here. More on how that came together soon!

On another note, I’ve got a bit of background in photojournalism and newspaper writing (United Press International, local papers etc), so I hope to provide you with some useful and entertaining posts going forward. Amanda will also be posting. I think you’ll enjoy her perspective.
So that’s the lockdown crew.
#purenewzealand #wanaka #lovewanaka #lockdown #mountainspirit