I always knew my first week along the trail was going to be hell, no matter how hard I trained or how much I was prepared. But Day 3 was something else.

Quite honestly, August 15, 2018, was the hardest day of in my life. When I finally arrived at Wilpena Pound Resort late in the evening, I was on the verge of throwing in the towel and maliciously burning it to a cinder. Physically and mentally I was drained.

Daily Diary – Day 3

A combination of bulldogs clips, duct tape, rubber bands and plastic bags were holding together my leaky water bladder. This wobbly construction was delicately placed into my rucksack and I departed the cozy Yanyanna Hut. I had spent the first two days cradling this mess, but I hoped, after an excruciating end to Day 2, the hiking poles I’d previously stashed away would help support my crumbling frame.

Fortunately, the scenery throughout National Parks of South Australia’s Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park was enough to get me through the morning.

Day 2 The scenery in every direction was mindblowing

360° of mind-blowing scenery.

Day 3 From the mountain tops to the gully floors

From the mountain highs to the gully flows, unique landscapes were constantly on offer.

I was a sceptic going into the trail, would I really need hiking poles? I’d used them for a couple of days trekking through Peru earlier in the year and they were nothing but a burden. This time around, however, they made all the difference, particularly on the downward slopes heading through the undulating ABC Range.

ABC Range is so named because of the number of peaks was first supposed to be “the same as the letters in the alphabet”. There are, in fact, many more.
Heysen Trail Map Sheet 8

After a bright, but breezy start to the day, I saddled up for lunch only to discover my mornings’ handyman efforts were wasted. I only had a ‘small puddle’ remaining to get me through the next 12km of hot, dry track until I made camp and the next viable water source. My heart sunk. This was going to be tough.

Day 3 I was too exhausted to truly appreciate the scenery on offer

Unfortunately, I was too exhausted to truly appreciate the stunning scenery on offer.

Over the next few hours, I had a glimpse into what a dehydrated explorer might experience stumbling through the outback. I had overheated, my head was spinning and my body ached. The purposeful strides I took during the morning had turned into cumbersome shuffles, trying to edge one foot in front of the other. By the time I reached Wilpena Pound, I was shot. Thankfully, there I gorged on a chicken parmy and gulped down several electrolyte-filled drinks that lifted me to a point to which I could tackle a lengthy Day 4.

All the details.

Trail distance covered

21.98km

Price

Sites from $14 per site + park entry fee. Book online via wilpenapound.com.au

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 steep, narrow walking trail that gyrates it’s way through the ABC Range and down through the Bunyeroo Valley requires some considered negotiating. This was followed by some straightforward, but bumpy vehicle tracks leading into Wilpena Pound.