Friday, October 28, 2016 – 29.46 km
I made a big error this morning. Shortly after leaving Huppatz Hut, the Heysen signage directed me to walk up the hillside beside a field, so I walked to the end of the path between the field and a fence. In retrospect, I think that I must have been meant to continue on through a patch of tall grass until the fence, where there (theoretically) must have been a stile, but I turned right to follow the edge of the field. I wasn’t seeing markers and eventually I reached a fence without a stile, so I knew that something was wrong. The GPS track was also wrong – it showed the trail at an arbitrary location below, halfway up the hills. I knew that I shouldn’t drop down to the stream, but I was confused by the lack of stile further up and still hadn’t considered the possibility that I had missed one at the very beginning. Eventually I just climbed over a wooden portion of fence and continued in the proper direction, presently spotting a HT marker by the uppermost fence. I went up and saw a nice dirt track on the other side of the fence. Bugger. I climbed over the fence where it had been squashed by a tree, thus regaining the proper path. Wandering aimlessly on private property is an awkward experience.
After crossing the range at Niblet Gap, the Heysen followed a road before ascending to Webb Gap Campsite. The range was forested and scenic and a single-track/cross-country route along the ridge would make for a nice walk.
There was no flat ground at Webb Gap Campsite, but I decided to cowboy camp on the shelter bench… then I started considering whether I could reach Smith Hill Campsite today. It was early in the afternoon and though my foot had been bothering me early in the morning, it was painless throughout the late morning and afternoon, which makes a big difference in terms of both ability and drive. I decided to press on, making today’s distance the longest I’ve walked on the Heysen so far.
I liked the walk to Smith Hill Camp, even the road portion, since it was through a peaceful forested area. The Tanunda to Burra map sheet says ‘Numerous quiet country roads and tracks are followed as well as crossings of paddocks and pastures and although easy walking, can be mentally challenging beyond Kapunda’. I haven’t found the walk from Burra bad at all; rather it’s the walk from Melrose to Hallett that’s a soulcrushing horror.
Smith Hill campsite has a tent platform, but the Heysen tent platforms are too small for my Altaplex – even my Fly Creek didn’t fit well. I was planning to cowboy camp again, but the mozzies are thick for the first time in ages and I wanted to eat a leisurely supper in peace, so I decided to pitch my tent on the flat spot beside the stile. Beautiful sunset.