The Heysen 25: Hilly McHillface

Sunday, September 25, 2016 – 13.98 km

My current tent is a Zpacks Altaplex, bought to replace my Big Agnes Fly Creek. You know that saying, ‘I hate every new tent less than my last one’? No one could hate the Altaplex in fair weather. It’s light, spacious and offers a great view with the storm doors rolled up. I was aware from Keith Foskett’s review that it might have some issues in fouler weather, and experienced one of those last night when the front stake pulled out in the wind. As Keith recommended in his review, I had attached extra lines to the front of the tent, so it didn’t collapse (thanks man!). Perhaps I didn’t tighten them enough to relieve enough pressure on the front stake. The vestibule DID collapse, being held up by nothing but the front stake, and my boots were soaked through in the morning. A good lesson for me to really pound in that front stake and maybe place a rock on it too. Also to note – the ZPacks pole extender does not fit my Fizan compact poles. I had to whittle down one of my pole tips, which sounds nuts but made no difference to the functioning of the pole, so it would fit. Though I informed ZPacks of the issue, they still only mention the Black Diamond Z-poles on their website, so I would advise contacting them re: your pole type before buying an extender. They offered me a refund and recommended that I purchase a PVC tube that fits my poles, but since I’m a nutty pole-whittler I didn’t have to.

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I left camp late this morning, as did Gregory, even though he was aiming for Melrose today. I was aiming for the kinder destination of Gray’s Hut and glad for that, since there wasn’t an inch of flat ground the entire day. I was feeling good and strong in the morning, but started to feel queasy later in the day. I actually wondered whether I had been bitten by a venomous spider or something – I had a welt on my arm, but thought it was only a mosquito bite (I react badly to the mosquitoes in these parts). Speaking of mozzies. They’ve been out, as have the flies. I’ve been using off and on the upper half of a full body mosquito suit, which has so far been effective. Like the $6 poncho though, I expect it to eventually be destroyed.

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Because of the queasiness, I rested for half an hour. The swelling on my arm was decreasing and I felt okay when I started out again, so I decided that I had just pushed too hard in the morning. Besides the endless hills, I had gone out of my way (ridiculously so, in one case) for the sake of rock hopping rather than getting my feet wet, and I realized something obvious but meaningful: THE OFFICIAL DISTANCES ARE NOT THE DISTANCES YOU WALK. I don’t mean that in terms of the map being wrong (though it was wrong today in regards to Gray’s Hut, so there’s that). Every time you have to search for a marker, or bypass bushes or a cliff, or follow a road instead of the fence, you’re adding extra steps, so who knows how far you’re actually walking on this crazy trail?

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Gregory was resting by the creek where I had detoured especially far to rock hop, and was worried that I had gotten lost since I rejoined the trail beyond his line of sight. Sorry… I did consider going back to let him know where I crossed, but that would’ve meant going back… and logic dictates that I couldn’t have gotten lost alongside a creek, right? I also refused to be filmed for his documentary. Sorry again!!! It’s just that I haven’t been filmed since high school!!! I feel bad now and will give him a blurb if we meet again.

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Gray’s Hut has a sleeping platform and ledges inside and a picnic area outside. I’m going to sleep inside and hope that the hut traps more heat than it looks like it does, since nights have been frigid so far. It was nice to eat supper before dark.

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Gray’s Hut

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