Still a Bit Buggered (Part Two) – East Eglinton Valley / Mackay Creek

“On a Mish” #280 Still a Bit Buggered (Part Two). East Eglinton Valley / Mackay Creek. Fiordland National Park. 2.6.2021. Moving to Te Anau permanently in 2018 was much more beneficial than first expected. The main reason I bought a house in the lakeside town is its proximity to Fiordland National Park. The national park is one of the world’s last uninhabited locations. Reasons being the fact that not only is the terrain some of the most rugged found on the planet, but it is also a place that is constantly in the path of near cyclone strength storms on a regular basis. However, with effort the rewards are as large as the mountains that cover New Zealand’s largest National Park. Many times I have battled my way into a remote part of the park, and then reaped the rewards of a massive area of the beautiful countryside all to myself. Little did I know that a mission into Sunny Creek Basin above the Routeburn early in 2020 was going to be my last before everything would change (for me and then the rest of the world)….

My accident in Patea / Doubtful Sound on the Fiordland Navigator was only the beginning of a turbulent year for all of humanity. Tourism doesn’t do too well when the borders are closed and watching not only my health but also the industry that I work in crumble was as tough as a big mish in Fiordland but with none of the rewards. At least the locations that visitors used to flock to are still there and while they are there I will explore them, no matter what state my body is in.

With the rain beginning to increase in intensity again I was beginning to think that my hip testing mission in the East Eglinton Valley wasn’t going too well. I was on the marked trail but it was nowhere near where it was on my map. This meant I was nowhere near my planned camping spot. Sore and a bit over it I decided to turn back as I didn’t want to keep going towards the unknown knowing the pain was only going to get worse. I had mud on my boots and had taken in many breaths of fresh Fiordland air so I had still achieved something!

Apart from the scramble down into the gut and then up out of it, the return journey was a lot easier on my broken bits as most of it was downhill most of the way.

I got back to my car with a soaking drizzle still drenching the valley and in disappointment I threw my pack in the back. It was time for plan B which had not been thought of yet.

The Earl Mountains

Still ready to camp somewhere I drove back along the highway towards Te Anau to the MacKay Creek Campsite. The devastating February 2020 storms had damaged the access road to the campsite for cars, so I parked up and hiked past road barriers towards the Eglinton River. I wandered around in the wet grass and tussock near the river for a while and at one point I had to drop down to a lower part of the riverbed. As it lowered myself down I lost gripped and ended up on my back like a turtle upside down! I was now looking up at the dark clouds and as the rain began to really fall again pattering my exposed face I decided enough was enough. It was time to return to my car and head home with my tail between my legs.

Finishing a mish prematurely isn’t the best, but my hip was now very unhappy with the weight of my pack pushing down on it so I guess the test was unsuccessful. With that said any time spent in Fiordland is nourishing for the soul so it wasn’t a total failure.

After getting back home I didn’t even bother taking my gear out of the car, instead a few painkillers later and I was lying on my couch watching Tv after being defeated by taking on a challenge too big for my current state.

In hindsight I was happy I turned back when I did, as I know the pain would have been a lot worse if I had continued, and with the track in a completely different location that first thought, who knows what would have happened. So at least I returned in one piece and have the pictures to prove I did something. The fresh air and mountain scenery still did wonders for my state of mind. But as far as my body goes I know that at this point in time I am still a bit buggered…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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