Thursday, September 22, 2016 – 21.27 km
After toying with thoughts of the Bibbulmun, I decided to finish the remaining ~950 kilometres of the Heysen this fall/Australian spring. Though the scenery was usually pretty rather than spectacular, the Heysen always interested me in a ‘drunk boss at office party displaying increasingly erratic behaviour’ sort of way.
Therefore I rode the bus back up to Quorn yesterday (hello again, my friend), preparing to head SOBO to Cape Jervis. I’m feeling some ambivalence, probably because I’ve just travelled from the endless beaches of the east coast, where the weather was gorgeous and sunny as opposed to the current cool and rainy and frown-inducing weather in South Australia. I’ve been torn between thoughts of ‘is this how I want to spend half of my remaining time in Australia?’ and ‘IT’S JUST THE WEATHER, MATE’. Because I’m going for cultural appropriation in my lingo.
Anyway, I wrote about Quorn before, but neglected to mention that the town has free Wi-Fi. The owner of the Criterion ($35 rooms) remembered me, but didn’t mention the key incident, and I am proud to report that this time I remembered to leave my key in the room.
While walking out to the Heysen, I was struck by how wet the route was compared to when I hiked it before. Puddles and mud, but also flowers. After rejoining the trail and turning in the excitingly new direction of south, I came to a gate warning about a bull camel on the premises. I decided to assume that Australian fall is camel mating season and that therefore bulls aren’t utterly insane in Australian spring. I still didn’t want to encounter it though, and was happy that I didn’t.
After following the Pichi-Richi railway line for awhile, the HT ascended to a ridge with beautiful views.
The high point had a logbook and I saw that some other hikers, a group and a solo woman, had been through in the last few days. I’ve also noticed the relatively fresh footprints of a man (or unusually large-footed woman), so I suspect that I’m directly behind another hiker.
Beyond the logbook, the trail turned into more of an ‘every goat for himself’ type of scenario, but it was decent until it descended from the ridge, crossed a road and began a ‘follow stream’. ‘Well, that’s not so dodgy, or at least not dodgier than any of the other follow stream situations’, you say? It was though, because the creek was running!
I’ve complained about stream-following previously, but at least the streams were dry then, so I could easily cross or walk in the streambed. This time I decided to take a shortcut to avoid walking in the stream, but didn’t do a great job of it and was soon just following the streambed again from a higher elevation. Growing impatient as the day chugged onwards, I descended and rejoined the Heysen where it became decent single track that insisted on crossing the stream repeatedly.
I arrived at camp around 5:30. It gets dark soon after six now (so early) so I was eating supper in the dark. Today felt long… between this section of the Heysen and my last I hiked the Larapinta, Jatbula and Thorsborne trails, all relatively short and extremely impressive hikes, and I had forgotten how long walking the same distance on the Heysen as opposed to a well-defined trail can take. I got off-trail on the Larapinta once and started stream-following and was just like ‘this is normal, it’s probably the trail’. Nope.