The Heysen 73: High of 31

Sunday, November 20, 2016 – 34.34 km

The wind picked up last night and I was too cold in only my sleeping bag, so I relented and pitched my tent. I thought when I woke up that the air felt strangely warm – the Mount Compass forecast was for a high in the lower twenties when I last checked – but I didn’t start genuinely wondering until I had been walking for awhile and warm had progressed to hot and hot had progressed to scalding. I checked the forecast for Myponga, which was closer than Mount Compass. And it said… high of 31??!!! And I had 35 km to walk! First things first, I was going to run out of water. I decided that I was morally fine with stealing a litre of water, and hopped a fence to take some from a rainwater tank. Unfortunately the tank had no spigot. Crime averted.

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The first streams I saw were scummy or oily. If you want me to drink you, at least attempt to hide your pollution. I noticed that a ‘Wild Dog Creek’ was marked in the map elevation profile. You might think something like ‘If it’s noted on the elevation profile, maybe it’s a good water source’, but remember, these are the maps that can’t distinguish walking trail from following a fence. I figured that I would be lucky if the creek wasn’t an effluent pipe, but kept it in my mind as a potential source if I didn’t see anything better first.

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Yulte Conservation Park was lovely but all up and down. Difficult walking, especially in the heat, and I almost fell a few times since the soles of my boots are worn down almost to uselessness. I removed my shirt and tucked my bandana into my sports bra for more modesty. You know how when you’re sweating and you brush against ferns or other soft plants and it smears the sweat and feels nice and cool? Well, this was not like that. The plants were all prickly and gougey on my poor flesh.

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The route turned to roads after the conservation park. I missed a turn and walked to Myponga Reservoir. Seeing the reservoir was nice (I hadn’t seen a decent lake in a long time) but having made a mistake on such a long, tortuously hot day was frustrating. Heysen’s Rest B&B was nearby and I considered taking a hit to my budget by retreating there, but no one answered my phone call and the property was blocked by a locked gate. I walked on.

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Myponga Reservoir

Myponga Conservation Park was even prettier than Yulte CP, but the same tough walking. Wild Dog Creek was decent though, containing algae but no scum or oiliness, and it was flowing well. I ended up drinking two litres of water from there (filtered), so hopefully there was nothing too unsavory in it. Just the normal microplastics, cow feces, birth control pills, etc.

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Steep climb down to Inman Valley from Sugarloaf Hill (I mention this only because I wanted to write ‘sugarloaf’). A sign indicated that water is available in Inman Valley, and the map also says so, but there are no public washrooms and the store closes at 5:00 PM. I still had creek water, so I passed by. I don’t like walking in the dark, but figured it would be okay in this case since the last part of the day was on road – I had forgotten that the trail had been rerouted through the hills. Luckily I was able to complete the cross-country portion before dark. A few cows started trotting towards me but stopped when I ran away.

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Very accommodating.

The sun was down by the time I reached the woods. No problems following the signage in the dark. Robinson Hill Campsite has a flat tentsite and gives the impression of having a nice view in the daylight. I had previously decided that I was going to sleep on the tank bench, but the campsite was hosting a wide variety of insects, including a hardcore centipede 6-7 inches long and dozens of annoying flying bugs that kept launching themselves at my face because of my headlamp.

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Gross.

I pitched my tent for some peace, but the door was unzipped and a bucket of bugs got inside just during the pitching process. I took down the tent to turn it inside out, leaving the stakes in the ground to re-pitch the tent in the same position, but then had trouble finding the stakes again in the dark. Seeing some predators at work, a spider and a huge ant killing the flying insects, provided some consolation.

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Good job, bud!

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