Storm Vs Tent (Part Two) – Borland Saddle Ridge Camp

“On a Mish” #68 Storm Vs Tent (Part Two). Borland Saddle Ridge Camp. Fiordland National Park. 4.5.2019. In the wilds of Aotearoa you are at the mercy of the weather. In Fiordland if you get the forecast wrong, you could be in trouble. A couple of times I have been hanging out for a mish and after seeing the forecast I have hoped it was wrong and just gone out anyway. Sometimes I have been very lucky and avoided the nasty weather mentioned in the forecast. But on a couple of occasions the weather report has been spot on and I have found myself in the middle of a raging Fiordland storm…

After locking up my car on the Borland Saddle I quickly got my pack / camping gear ready, and started my hike through the mountain tussock to my campsite near the summit of Peak 1227m. Along the way I watched the sun disappear behind the many mountains on the western horizon and everything seemed to be falling into place. I scrambled up from the saddle to the narrow ridge that juts out east above the Upper Borland Burn / Valley.

The sharp ridge was just wide enough for my tent, with no soil to put pegs into. So I had to find rocks and scrub to secure the tent too (something that would be vital later in the mission).

I enjoyed an excellent evening looking out west towards the Townley and Merri mountain ranges, and also looking down directly from camp at the Borland Road over 400 vertical metres below. It was like camping on top of a huge building, with a view of mountains in every direction.

The inner peace I get when spending the night in my tent perched high on a mountain is my form of meditation, and over time the need for a temporary mental escape has been incredibly valuable, especially after my injury. After the land went dark I retreated to the comfort and warmth of my sleeping bag as my tent’s fabric fluttered with the hint of a light breeze.

The mission took a turn during the night as the nor’west storm forecast for the next day arrived early, and it arrived in full force.

Last rays of light on Fiordland. The calm before the storm…

The tent’s material was full of life as it wildly flapped around during what was going to be a very long night. Minor moments of peace were smashed away by the sound of Mother Nature’s windy fury. I was amazed at how it stayed secure to the mountain until first light, this is why securing your tent is so important!

As soon as I could see a glimmer of dawn on the horizon I was up and preparing myself to get outta town. To the west was nothing but the blackness of a storm and in the east the sun was doing its best to shine through the dark clouds. I was in and out of the rain as I carefully packed my gear hoping nothing would vanish with the wind.

After somehow securing everything into or onto my pack I set off in increasingly heavier rain, towards the Borland Saddle. Although it was only a short distance, the mixture of rain from above and thigh-high wet tussock and alpine scrub below meant I was soaked to the bone by the time I got to my car.

Now some may say that a night of very little sleep due to constant high wind, mixed with being soaking wet while out in a remote location is a negative experience, I say “Now that was an epic Fiordland experience!”

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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