Night one was cold. No, it was freezing. Nay, it was glacial.

I woke up early on Day 2, eager to knock off some quick kilometres, but I was ‘greeted’ with an icy film coating my tent. Not ideal for a quick getaway, especially as my hands were frozen stiff. There was one incredibly warming source of inspiration, however; the Heysen Range was glowing bright red in the morning light.

Today, everything was ‘Heysen’. From the name of that vibrant sierra, to discovering the lookout at which Sir Hans painted the Three Sisters of Aroona back in 1927, to a fortuitous run-in with 40+ Friends of the Heysen Trail hikers at Trezona Campground.

Daily Diary – Day 2

Day 1’s steady 18.33 kilometres were a gentle easing in to trail life; flat tracks, gentle slopes and shady creekbeds underlined a fairly uncomplicated route. Day 2 ramped things up. And when I say up, I mean up! My first task (other than scraping the shards of icy dew from my rain fly) was to trek vertically over ABC Range. From there, the trail would continuously rise and drop until I arrived, exhausted, at Trezona Campground for a much-needed lunch break.

The Aroona Hut (now a ruin) was built in the 1920’s, and was used by Hans Heysen as a base for his many painting trips to this region.
Heysen Trail Map Sheet 8

Aside from the breathtaking high altitude views, my highlight for the day was picking the brains of several trail hikers who were nearing the end of their journey. An end-to-end group, run by the Friends of the Heysen Trail, had just arrived at my shady lunch spot puffing and panting, but in a celebratory mood. They were just two days from completing the entire trek. The relief on their faces was palpable as they marched into camp with their hiking poles held toward the sky.

I gathered as much inside information as possible on how to get through the next two months. ‘Just enjoy the experience’ was the main advice, ‘you’ll probably never get a chance to do it again’. Amen!

A majority of the hikers had walked the trail over the past 6 years. To commit to something for this extended period of time is an enormous undertaking. I can only imagine the tight-knit bonds this group must have created over this period; an experience completely contrasting to the one I was about to go through.

Day 2 One of the many creekbeds along the trail

One of the easier creek beds to navigate along the trail

Day 2 Dusty Trails and arid landscapes

Dusty trails and arid landscapes.

My mind was beginning to sync with the trail, however, my body required more convincing. Due to continuing issues with my water bladder from Day 1, I had to cradle the leaky mess in my arms and couldn’t utilise my hiking poles. Consequently, my back, legs and butt were in a world of pain when I finally made it to Yanyanna Hut, on the outskirts of the Bunyeroo Valley, that evening.

Day 2 Walking through the plains with my leaky water bladder Heysen Trail

That’s definitely not how you’re supposed to use your hiking poles.

While the wind whistled through the surrounding hills, I was thankful to be tucked inside this small tin hut. I did not want to be outside getting buffered pillar to post in these conditions. It’s incredible how quickly you appreciate the small things when you plonk yourself out in the elements. However, despite my gratitude, I was itching to eat anything but another dehydrated meal at the Wilpena Pound Resort Camping Ground on Day 3.

All the details.

Trail distance covered

25.41km

Accommodation
Price

Free

Climate

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.

Terrain

The undulating hills kicked in straight away and my legs and hips didn’t know what hit them. Thankfully, there is a ‘relatively’ flat stretch between Trezona Campground and Yanyanna Hut that softens that blow.