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

“On a Mish” #45 See Ya Later Sleeping Mat – Part Two. Mt Burns Upper Basin. Fiordland National Park. 23.10.2018. Nothing makes you feel more alive than exposure to the elements. Stripped back to human and clothing, and the rest is up to Mother Nature, lets you know you are truly alive. Spending a night out in the open is a way to add another layer of excitement to not only your day, but also your sleep. 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…

The afternoon couldn’t have gone any better for us, and we enjoyed dinner at our camp in the upper basin on Mt Burns, while simultaneously chasing the Kea away from our gear. It was a unique way to enjoy a feed.

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, and I had opted for a natural groove in the ground amongst the tussock out in the open 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, wow what an incredible day in Fiordland

Later, I woke up suddenly to the mad flutter of my bivvy bag and the wind howling its way over our camp at a great rate of knots. And if that wasn’t enough, I also had the same 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 was picked up and disappeared into the darkness of the night, never to be seen again. For a split second 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!).

A Sunrise I will Never Forget

It was a long night, and a challenge. But like so many situations in the wild, knowing that I wasn’t in danger, I kinda enjoyed the experience. Secondary fun at its best.

The ultimate reward for grinding my way through the night was a sunrise that was one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen in all my years venturing into the outdoors. I saw the most spectacular dull and bright colours merge into a symphony of sunrise perfection. 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 through the gortex that there were 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 walk back to the Borland Saddle(990m), hiking towards the approaching storm. 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 just before it really cut up rough we were opening the doors of the car and escaping the rain. Home safe with a tale to tell, it was time to say my last ‘See ya later’ to my sleeping matt and then we headed back to civilisation. Another Fiordland EPIC!!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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