Eglinton for Ernie (Part Three) – Eglinton Flat

“On a Mish” #388 Eglinton for Ernie (Part Three). Eglinton Flat. Fiordland National Park. 5.12.2023. It is tradition to build a chorten (rock cairn memorial) for climbers who have passed away in the mountains of Nepal. It is a way to say goodbye and also a way of keeping their memory alive in a place they loved to be in. When my mate passed on to the next life I wanted to keep his memory alive at my house in Te Anau in the form of a chorten and in order to build a chorten I would need some rocks…

I started with green pants on and was now wearing half green half brown pants. I also started with a hip and back that was annoyed with the long drive from the day before. In any other setting you’d probably curse the fact that you’d stepped into a bog hole while suffering from pain, but in Fiordland on a sunny day it would take a lot more than a wet boot and sore hip to sour the mood. It was time to take control of my temporary place in paradise.

The wind was still blowing up the river so I had to be careful with my camping gear. If anything got lose it would be going straight into the river which was only a metre or two away. I called upon my years of putting tents up in windy conditions and thankfully I was able to put my tent up and not lose anything. It was now time to chill out and think of all of the awesome times I had had with my very awesome little hound.

The afternoon rolled on into the evening and thanks to the wind I didn’t get too many visits from Te Namu. I could do very little in a place that normally is so beautiful that the bugs try to stop you staring at its splendour. Tiredness took a hold of me before the sun went down, and at first I thought the light might be an issue with me getting to sleep. I woke up a couple of hours later very surprised at how quickly I switched off. With Ernie still front of mind I ended up having a very good sleep listening to the constant trickle of the Eglinton River.

Early-ish the next morning I woke to my preset 445am alarm. I never want to miss a sunrise in Fiordland but to my surprise even at 445am there was a hint of light in the sky. The summer days in this part of the world are very long. I still enjoyed watching the day devople while I brewed up a couple of excellent coffees. The steam from my coffee hung in the still cool morning air. There was definitely a chill in the air and in some places frost made the ground twinkle. I had a few things to do during my very limited time in the south so I packed up quickly and was on the road before most had begun their own Milford Road adventures.

The main objective to take care of before I headed back north to Christchurch was Ernie’s Chorten. I needed some rocks and some might or might not have found their way from the roadside in the Upper Hollyford Valley into my car. The Darran Mountains are the greatest place on earth to me and it only seemed fitting to have Darran Mountain rock as the body of Ernie’s chorten.

After getting back to Te Anau I began to build and with prayer flags on top and marigolds around, the chorten looked fit for a king. After finishing I had a few teary moments before I carried on with all of the other things I had to do before returning to Christchurch. It was on the long lonely drive home that I had plenty of time to think about how much I miss my dog, but at least I could be proud of the little piece of him that now lays in Te Anau with Fiordland Rocks on top and flowers and flags around him that remind me of Nepal. I had combined all of my loves in one place. Goodbye to my special little friend, I hope you like your chorten…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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