Eglinton for Ernie (Part Two) – Te Anau to Eglinton Flat

“On a Mish” #388 Eglinton for Ernie (Part Two). Te Anau to Eglinton Flat. Fiordland National Park. 4.12.2023. As humans we have no choice when it comes to dealing with death. It will happen to all of us unfortunately and as much as we know that, we never seem to be prepared for it. I used to think that I wouldn’t be able to deal with the death of my dog and now I was travelling with his ashes on a mish to lay him to rest in a Fiordland way…

Without an injury the drive from Christchurch to Te Anau is a long one. The fact that I needed to stop every so often to stretch out made it an even longer day out on the road. At least the weather was playing ball, and there were only a couple of crazies in cars on the concrete. While sad, it was a good drive with views to help distract me.

After arriving I prepared my gear for a special trip into paradise. My plan was to drive up the Milford Road and camp in the Upper Eglinton Valley. I would be taking Ernie with me as normally dogs aren’t allowed in Fiordland National Park, but I don’t think DoC will have an issue on this mish. After a morning pottering around my house I headed up the road with the hope that Ata Whenua would clear the shadows in my mind.

I drove as far as the Upper Eglinton Campsite and after getting out I felt the sting of Te Namu which immediately brought me back home and brightened my dull mood. Usually a sandfly bite would be seen as a bad thing but for me it was something I had missed, just like the mountains. As thrilling as the bite of a sandfly was, I wasn’t here to feed the flies. I was the one looking for a meal, I was here to consume food for an aching soul.

My hip and back were feeling the effects of the long drive down so I spread my gear out over two packs. As I set off I realised that I was super lucky to be here on such a sunny day. From the car park I crossed over two very boggy areas and then I got out onto the Eglinton Riverbed. It was once out on the riverbed that I felt the force of the wind. I knew it might make it tough to put my tent up, but at least it would keep the flies away.

I dropped off my first pack and was rather chuffed at how I’d managed to get over the boggy spots without getting too wet. I wasn’t as lucky on the return. I thought I was following the same faint trail that I’d followed on my first trip but when I got to the first bog I realised I wasn’t. Bogs are tricky as sometimes places that look solid aren’t, and as my foot plunged ankle deep into the murky depths I wished I was at the much dryer crossing spot.

Back at the car I was once again shaded from the wind and had to hurry to avoid becoming a meal. I’m sure the people next to me in a campervan must have wondered what the dude with mud up to his knee was up to. As quick as I appeared I disappeared back into the marshes of the Upper Eglinton. On my way back to my camping spot I didn’t bother trying to avoid wet feet. The damage was done so I just powered my way directly through the swamp to my camping spot and I could already feel the reassuring effects of Fiordland. I wasn’t happy but I wasn’t super sad for the first time in a while. A sense of joy feels so much more satisfying when it is something you didn’t realise you needed it. It was now time to set up my camp and have a night out in the mountains remembering how happy my dog made me feel…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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