See Ya Later Sleeping Mat – Mount Burns Tops (Part Two)

“A Mish a Day” #45 See Ya Later Sleeping Mat – Part Two. Mt Burns Tops. Fiordland National Park. 23.10.2018. Nothing makes you feel more alive than exposure to the elements. Spending a night out in the open is a way to add excitement to your sleep, as long as you have the right gear for it of course. Having spent a few nights out in the open I can say that it is a real buzz to be wrapped up in your sleeping bag with nothing but crisp night air between you and countless stars. From my experience high up on the southside of Mt Burns(1645m) if you are planning to sleep out in the open it is best you check the forecast properly. A quick browse showed me the sun / cloud icon for day one of our mission. Then the next day said rain developing in the afternoon. The one crucial factor I didn’t look at was the wind in the forecast…

The afternoon couldn’t have gone any better for us, and we enjoyed dinner while simultaneously chasing the Kea away from our gear. Once the evening had rolled on into night (and the whiskey supply ran out) we retreated to our sleeping bags. Dylan was using my tent (Little Orange), and I had opted for a natural groove in the ground amongst the tussock in my bivvy bag. Before going to sleep I looked up at the heavens and even witnessed a couple of shooting stars in the clear sky above me. Later I woke up suddenly to the mad flutter of my bivvy bag and wind howling its way over our camp. If that wasn’t enough, I also had two Kea poking and prodding at all of my gear which I was lying on top of. I realised I needed to secure my camp to protect my gear from the Kea, but the second I raised my body my therma-rest sleeping mat disappeared into the darkness of the night. For a few seconds I pondered running after it, but that would leave the rest of my kit vulnerable to both the relentless wind and the inquisitive Kea (who didn’t seem fazed by the wind at all!). It was a long night, and a challenge. But like so many situations in the wild, I kinda enjoyed the tough ride that was that night on the southside of Mt Burns(1645m). I guess as a reward (?) the sunrise was one of the most impressive I’ve seen in all my years venturing into the outdoors. I saw the most impressively bright colours merge into a symphony of sunrise perfection.

A Sunrise I will Never Forget

As beautiful as the sunrise was it was also sending a clear message for us to get out of the mountains. Red sky in the morning shouldn’t be taken lightly while high in the mountains of Fiordland. At some stage during the chaotic night Dylan’s tent (Little Orange) was completely wiped out by the wind, and he lay inside a mess of tent material and guylines. I informed him of the dark clouds approaching from the west and that we should get the hell outta there! There was a good surge of adrenaline as we began our hike back to the Borland Saddle(990m). Menacing clouds were beginning to consume the mountains to our west, and it was only a matter of time before our mountain (Mt Burns) would be eaten by the approaching storm. This motivated us into moving quickly across the undulating terrain, and in no time at all we were back at the tarns and the track back down to the saddle. As we made our way through the forest to my car it began to rain. This was no problem as very soon we would be in the car and on our way home. As far as missions go this would be right up there on the epic scale. Good times, great views and a bit of action to cap it all off.

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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