The Heysen 62: Uh Oh

Monday, November 07, 2016 – 20.27 km

I had another choice in route this morning: the longer official hike past Chalks Campground, or the shorter walk past the Crawford Forest Reserve Info Centre. I chose the Chalks hike and found the route pretty, though not spectacular. The campground is forested and lovely with covered picnic tables and a shelter. As per usual, it was empty. A permit is required for camping.

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One of these things is not like the other

Soon after the campground, I entered Warren Conservation Park, another beautiful area of native flora. And switchbacks! Such luxury!

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At the exit, I met two hikers headed to an old schoolhouse that I had passed yesterday. They looked surprised when I mentioned how far away the forest info centre was. At the time, I thought something like ‘well, they’re probably taking a different route there’, because they looked so competent with their hiking clothes and daypacks that I figured they must know how far they were planning to go. In retrospect I should have asked them some questions and made sure. Mid-afternoon isn’t an ideal time to start a long walk.

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On my way up the road from the conservation park, I had another scary dog experience, this one worse than the last. When I passed a distant house, dogs started barking. I looked down and they appeared to be behind a tall fence which was separated from the road by a pond, some grass and a long switchbacking driveway. I thought ‘haha, you can’t get me from there, silly dogs’. I kept walking, but then noticed with alarm that a dog was running up the switchbacks. Quickly gaining the main road, it started following me, barking. I was horrified and considering whether to climb a tree, but also pissed, and shouting ‘Hey! Hey!’ just in case the owner was around, since I wanted to take someone to account. I should have shouted ‘I’m going to pepper spray this dog if it’s not back on your property within two minutes!’ and seen if that would have gotten a response. On the other hand, I’m not sure I want to meet someone who allows their dogs to harass passersby. ‘Innocent hiker passes creepy house in the woods and is confronted by a hostile dog… dog grabs her by the leg!!! Dog drags her back to house where sadistic owner disembowels her and makes it look like work of dog!!!!!!’. The dog was three metres away when it suddenly darted into the woods on the other side of the road, probably chasing some poor native animal. I didn’t see it again.

At the end of the day, I arrived at the Crawford Forest Reserve gate that you pass through to access Scotts Shelter. There I found a sign stating that this section of forest was closed. Uh oh. I knew that southern parts of the forest reserve were closed because of a fire in 2015, but the Heysen website doesn’t mention this area. I tried calling the info numbers on the sign but couldn’t reach anyone at either. Now… I’m naturally a law abider, and I think it’s especially bad to break the law in a foreign country, but I had been counting on the water at Scotts Shelter, and I didn’t have enough for a detour. Steeling myself, I pushed past the sign and hurried to Scotts Shelter. I saw no fire damage or logging activity, so I figured that logically it was okay to be there, if not legally. And then I thought that maybe the Friends have an agreement with the reserve that hikers are allowed to pass through, since the forest around the trail wasn’t damaged. That’s possible, right? Right? Anyway, I’ve decided to spend the night in the shelter since I’m already here. It has three overlapping bunks and sliding doors.

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