I couldn't get enough of the addictive views at Mt Arden.
There aren’t many reasons to backtrack along an already conquered section of trail at an ungodly hour of the morning—Mt Arden’s sweeping dawn view is one of them. Despite a tortuously early alarm, unrelenting winds and my deepening fatigue, I simply had to visit the prodigious summit one final time on Day 10. The simple fact being I may never have the opportunity to admire these unique panoramas again; not to mention at sunrise on a crystal clear winter’s morning.
Heysen Trail Diary – Day 10
I awoke bleary-eyed after three mammoth days on the Heysen Trail, including Day 9’s elevated expedition to the 844-metre climax of Mt Arden. I threw on every item of excess clothing that I hadn’t already worn to bed, brewed my porridge, refilled my water bladder and trudged back up the track I had descended the evening before.
The wind had increased significantly overnight and it buffeted my diminishing frame as soon as I left Mt Arden South Campsite’s sheltered gully. As a result, my already shaky footsteps through the dimly lit saltbush were extra cautious. The sun hadn’t yet crept over the horizon, but the rangy hilltops that surrounded Willochra Plain were already distinguishable. When the light finally spilled over the distant mountains, the entire valley glittered gold.
Willochra is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘a flooded creek, where green bushes grow’.
I continued to get whacked by the cold, blustery conditions, but they didn’t stop me from unpacking my camera equipment and creating time-lapse videos of the emerging dawn. My now-oversized rain jacket flapped ferociously in the wind and, at some point throughout the morning, my camera lens cap catapulted from my pocket, never to be found again—an unfortunate casualty for the greater photography good.
Other than a handful of sticky slopes, Day 10’s short 12-kilometre trek was relatively straightforward—compared to the last 48 hours anyway. But, as always in hiking, there was a leveller. I’m not sure if the region was to blame, or the fact I hadn’t showered in several days, but a flock of relentless flies followed me throughout the day. While I appreciated their enthusiasm, I didn’t welcome their suicidal attempts to be swallowed.
The fierce winds that almost blew me off the top of Mt Arden during my morning’s backpedalling returned at Eyre Depot. The whipping dust wreaked havoc with my tent construction, but I didn’t let it get me down; I was only one day’s walk from a washing machine and another deep-fried dinner in Quorn on Day 11.
All the details.
Trail distance covered
The region has hot dry summers with cool to cold nights and cool, wet winters. Autumn and spring can be warm and mild with occasional periods of rain or showers.
Other than a selection of steep slopes, including a non-compulsory trek back to Mt Arden, the terrain is straightforward. But beware, the flies will follow you.