Eglinton for Ernie (Part One) – Christchurch to Te Anau

“On a Mish” #388 Eglinton for Ernie (Part One). Christchurch to Te Anau. Fiordland National Park. 4.12.2023. It is amazing how much motivation an animal can give you. The fact that a dog needs walking everyday is one thing, the other is the fact that without a walk a dog will drive you crazy. I used to call upon my mountain motivation to get me going on a mish and then I got a dog and then he became the motivation. Now that he is gone I have found myself in a hole which seems near on impossible to get out of…

I don’t have any kids (apart from the ones that attend our Active Hearts Foundation libraries in Nepal), so when by chance I ended up with a dog he became as important to me as a child would be to a parent. The timing couldn’t have been any better as I was nearly at quitting point when it came to my recovery. I was stuck in the mud and Ernie was the one that dragged me out. I got very used to a life with my little friend by my side and now I am finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that he is gone. After getting back from Nepal there were some very quiet weeks. I was (and still am) finding it hard to accept that I have to go on mish by myself again. I had got very used to going on adventures with my best mate and I felt like without him all of my motivation to get outdoors had been drained.

Planning my life has been difficult when I am only living from one medical certificate to the next. The tediously slow healing process of torn muscles and tissue damage is the perfect recipe for depression and poor mental health. It was when I was at my worst that Ernie showed up and with a wag of his tail somehow he made me feel much, much better. That feeling came to a crashing end when I heard that my little man was gone. What made it worse was the fact that I was struggling my way through Nepal on a charity trek with the Active Hearts Team. I was thousands of miles away and I got the news I never wanted to hear, our team of two was back to just me. I would once again have to tackle life solo.

Reality really hit me when I got Ernie’s ashes and collar. My bouncy ball of fluffy fury was now the contents of a small cardboard box. Life’s cruel side had reared its ugly head and I didn’t like it one bit.

I decided that I should take some of Ernie’s ashes down to my home in Te Anau. The three times we went down there together was awesome and the idea was that my house was his house too, it seemed fitting that one of his final resting spots should be at a place that was supposed to be his home.

I now had a reason to get out of the house, and I wanted to make sure Ernie’s final trip to Te Anau was as good as possible. The trip would also act as a spring cleaning mission and general house check up. Also the most important part of the mish would be spreading some of Ernie’s ashes in my backyard (a place he loved) and I would also build a chorten (rock cairn memorial) in the place where the ashes were spread. It was time to say goodbye to my friend and I had an idea to make Ernie’s southern foray a Fiordland farewell.

With a heavy heart I packed my gear and then put Ernie’s ashes in the spot he used to sit in the car. If time travel was possible I’d use it to get my bestie back. It was much better looking across to the passengers seat and seeing a happy dog instead of a cardboard box. I could tell this was going to be a long sad drive south. I needed to get back into Fiordland and I needed to unload some grief in the most stunning part of the planet…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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