An epiphany-filled fourth day revived me from a dishevelled mess to slightly better than a dishevelled mess.
After a draining Day 3, I woke up feeling sore and sorry for myself. Both my internal and camera batteries still required charging, and I was wandering around at 4:30 am trying to replenish the latter. Fair to say, it was a slow morning. But it’s incredible how quickly your mood can change with the right stimuli. Following several meaningful revelations and one of the most phenomenal landscapes I’d ever seen, my body and the mind readjusted.
Daily Diary – Day 4
Much of the morning was spent glumly kicking rocks along the dirt track, questioning if I was going to make it through the next 56 days and dreading my next water bladder rinsing. However, it wasn’t long before I, quite literally, stumbled upon my inspiration as I departed Wilpena Pound and the stunning Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park.
Wilpena Pound is a natural amphitheatre of mountains and sedimentary rock in the form of a large syncline. The origin of the name Wilpena is uncertain, however the Adnyamathanha name for the nearby Elder Range is Woodna-Wolpena, which translates as Great Mountain, so perhaps the name is derived from that.
Heysen Trail Map Sheet 8
The jagged ascent to the Bridle Gap lookout was grinding on weary legs, but the view of the majestic Bunbinyunna, Elder and Red Ranges out the other side left me immediately invigorated. This rocky outcrop provided one of the most memorable viewing platforms I’d ever parked my butt on. The staggering 270º panorama was beyond awesome, even by the impossibly high Flinders Ranges standards.
I unpacked my lunch, drained the plastic bag containing my water bladder and tried to absorb every morsel of the region’s natural beauty before I had to leave. All of the concerns I’d amassed over the past three and a half days had vanished. My headspace was the reverse of 24 hours earlier; a poignant reminder that pain does not last forever.
I couldn’t sit around for too long however, I still had another 21 kilometres to tick off before I arrived at Red Range Campsite that evening. I eventually set off down the steep rocky slope to the valley floor, brushed through a fledgling forest and continued along the creek bed-riddled terrain.
Due to numerous bouts of gawking at the mesmerising scenery and several more cases of misplacing the trail, I unwittingly encountered my first ‘night hiking’ experience. Besides my total exhaustion, I loved it. Thanks to the clear skies and the total lack of light pollution, every twinkling star in the cosmos was out on display.
By the time I made it to Red Range Campsite I was wearied, weakened and ready for bed, but I may have never been happier. Plus, tomorrow night I had another hut to enjoy.
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.
This stretch has a little bit of everything. Actually, no. Scratch that. It has a lot of everything. Steep rocky slopes, long-winding dry creeks, grassy hill climbs and forest strolls. Landscapes for all tastes.