From hobbling to hooning, the body adapts quickly.
My legs were pulsating when I arrived at Wilmington’s Beautiful Valley Caravan Park in the back of my parents’ car. After a depleting Day 14 transversing undulating countryside, my body was on the brink of collapse. Mum and Dad scooped me off the trail in the nick of time. Plus, they brought with them delicious deep-fried seafood from the local fish and chip shop, thus securing their positions as ‘Trail Angels’. Other than stuffing myself silly, I spent the evening painstakingly stretching every one of my overworked muscles in an effort to flop back onto the trail on Day 15.
Daily Diary – Day 15
Whoever said stretching is a waste of time, is a fibber. I woke up feeling as fresh as a daisy… perhaps a trampled daisy, but a daisy none the less. My legs were weary, but working and my back felt tight, but flexible (enough). And most importantly, my head was in the right place.
Other than the few faces in Wilpena Pound, Hawker and Quorn, I had barely stumbled another soul while walking the trail. Most days were spent alone with my thoughts. Spending valuable one-on-one time with mum and day, plus a planned rendezvous with my mates Jodie and Lewis in the enchanting Mount Remarkable National Park on Day 15, would keep me connected to life outside of my own head.
After several gruelling days marching up and down erratic altitudes, the walk to Gray’s Hut presented a comparative walk in the park. However, I had to first backtrack along the trail to make up for yesterday’s unaccounted kilometres. Because of the curve of the trail, and its position next to the sleepy town of Wilmington, I could trek into the track, stash my bag in the old cemetery and head back along the undiscovered path.
The first settlers reached the region in the 1850s. They were impressed with the attractiveness and richness of the location and named it Beautiful Valley.
Walking without 20+ kilograms worth of backpack was liberating; I felt like I was flying. Unburdened by the excess weight, I broke into a jog, then a run, then a sprint. I couldn’t believe what my hyperactive legs were doing. 12 hours earlier I could barely walk, now I was haring down a deserted dirt track at full pace. A reminder of how quickly your body adapts when it’s unbridled by limitations.
The 5-kilometre stretch of backtracking flew just as quickly as I did. But as soon as I made it back to the cemetery and hoisted my bag over my shoulders, my body again felt crushed. I didn’t have time to wallow in self-pity, however, my hot date with the extraordinary Mount Remarkable National Park was only a short jaunt away.
After just one day of walking through ‘manicured’ green paddocks, I was again presented with dense native bushland; the difference was instantaneously noticeable. While I’d enjoyed 24 hours of change, I missed the chaos of the wild. The landscape’s vibrant array of unique colours felt almost nostalgic, even under the flat midday sun.
I spent the rest of the day enjoying the familiar, rugged surroundings, intertwined with the stretches of navigable grassy fields. Unlike the entire previous week, Day 15 felt undaunting. As a result, I relaxed and dawdled for large sections, resulting in the final few kilometres being navigated in the dark; it turned out this was the least of my problems.
Due to the day’s mild conditions, I hadn’t needed to add any extra layers until I stopped for the night at Gray’s Hut. I soon discovered my rain jacket was missing. Not ideal in the cool night air. My search would have to commence on Day 16, however, I was too tired to think, let along scour the surroundings.
All the details.
Trail distance covered
Free + park entry fee.
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.
A few hairy ups and downs along a straightforward succession of tracks.