The Coolest Coldness (Part Two) – Upper Eglington Camping

“On a Mish” #292 The Coolest Coldness – Part Two. Upper Eglington Valley. Fiordland National Park. 11.7.2021. Some might take the time to think about going camping (especially during the winter) and the chilly thoughts might make you end up staying at home. Everything is wet, you will be sleeping on the cold rocky ground, and even simple procedures like going to the toilet and brushing your teeth become a challenge. Winter really ramps up the potential uncomfortable factor, and in the mountains everything that can freeze will. Getting in and out of the tent means getting covered in frost. Cold / near frozen hands make simple tasks a real mission. But for some insane reason I really enjoy every chilly second of the chilly challenge!

I crossed over the braid of the Eglington River, and I got to the otherside much drier than expected. It was well worth it as the little island I got on was perfect for camping.

I found a genuine flat spot (a rare find in the wild), and the area was littered with driftwood from the river which was perfect for a campfire. The grand open valley offered views only seen if you put in the effort to get to the area. I had achieved my goal and now it was up to nature to provide the entertainment.

Camp in the Upper Eglington Valley

Even though it was mid afternoon the sun had already left the valley, and coldness was starting to make itself at home adding a crisp chill to the dramatic landscape. My cravings were well taken care of, and as usual the Fiordland views were pushing the limits of mountain beauty to the extreme.

To the west the light behind the Earl Range slowly faded, and even before it was dark there was a layer of ice coating the outside of my tent making it look like a classic frosty morning.

Although I had an abundance of wood, getting a fire going was a bit of the mission within the mission. It seems that wood with a layer of ice on it doesn’t light that easily, but my hard work was rewarded once I got the only source of heat in the now semi-frozen valley roaring.

Going bush ol’school with just a tent as a shelter strips you back to the bare essentials. Sitting beside a campfire always makes me feel like one of the early pioneers making their way into the valley for the first time. And with frost starting to make everything glimmer, I thought back to Mackinnon and Mitchell in the valley on the other side of the Earl Mountains, cutting what was going to become the world-famous Milford Track. Here I am warm in my down and merino, whereas they were wearing wool and tweed, and camping using swags for a shelter instead of the latest gore-tex armoured tent.

After it got dark, it got cold. Little did I know, the night was going to be one of the coldest I have ever experienced in the mountains…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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