Saturday, May 14, 2016 – 20 km
Leaving Hawker this morning, I returned to the Heysen via a ~6 km highway walk. It was pleasanter than your average highway walk, with minimal traffic and a flat gravel shoulder of 1-1.5 metres lining the road. Roadkill was scattered around generously though and I could have lived without the skill of being able to identify the scent of dead kangaroo flesh.
Upon rejoining the HT, I saw something amazing: footprints! Evidence of people actually walking the trail! They had been made when the ground was soft, so the timing seemed correct for them to have been left by the Aussie couple, but I won’t discount the possibility that other people are walking this thing.
I saw some paddy melons (Citrullus lanatus), not to be confused with the poisonous plant also called paddy melon (Cucumis myriocarpus) or pademelons (a type of wallaby). Legend has it that a Heysen thru-hiker once supplemented his diet with paddy melons and credited them for his completion of the trail. I would be nervous about eating a paddy melon by mistake instead of a paddy melon.
Lots of creek-walking today, but the creek was gentle, sandy/gravelly at first and then slightly rockier (and more scenic) but with flat open banks and animal trail. Cattle droppings were sprinkled around… cattle, my old nemesis… Ridiculous numbers of sheep droppings surrounded pools of water.
The HT followed the creek all the way to Mayo Hut, which is scenically located on a high bank. Superstitious people might take issue with Mayo Hut because a pamphlet inside the journal box states that a man passed away here, but I (while wondering which bunk he died in) take more issue with a journal entry describing mice scurrying around inside someone’s sleeping bag. Anti-mouse food storage options included a plastic box and hooks for hanging food/packs; I hung everything. Nice sunset on this windy night.
Mice report: 0 mice seen, but great trepidation about the night