An epiphany-filled fourth day revived me from a dishevelled mess to slightly better than a dishevelled mess.
It’s incredible how quickly your mood can improve with the right stimuli. Following several meaningful revelations and one of the most phenomenal landscapes I’d ever witnessed, my body and mind swiftly recovered from their afflictions on a reinvigorating Day 4.
Heysen Trail Diary – Day 4
After a draining Day 3, I woke up feeling sore and sorry for myself. Both of my internal and camera batteries still required charging, so, I was wandering around at 4:30 am trying to replenish the latter (whilst diminishing the former). Fair to say, I was slow to get moving from Wilpena Pound Resort.
I spent much of my morning despondently booting rocks along the dirt track, questioning how I was going to survive the next 56 days and dreading my next water bladder rinsing. The last 24 hours had kicked a sizeable dent in my enthusiasm. 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 Bridle Gap pulverised my weary legs, but the scenes from the lookout, including the majestic Bunbinyunna, Elder and Red Ranges, reignited my purpose. This unexpected rocky outcrop presented one of the most memorable viewing platforms I’d ever had the pleasure of parking my butt on. The staggering 270º panorama was awe-inspiring, even by the impossibly high Flinders Ranges standards.
I unpacked my lunch, drained the plastic bag containing my busted water bladder and tried to absorb every morsel of the region’s natural beauty. All of the concerns I’d amassed over the past three and a half days rapidly vanished. My headspace was the complete reverse of 24 hours earlier; an acute reminder that pain does not last forever.
I couldn’t sit around for too long however, I still had another 21 kilometres to hike before I arrived at Red Range Campsite. I set off down the steep craggy slope, brushed through a fledgling forest and continued my journey through the creek bed-riddled terrain along the valley floor.
Due to numerous bouts of gawking while photographing the mesmerising arid scenery, and several cases of misplacing the trail, I unwittingly experienced my first ‘night hiking’ adventure. Besides my total exhaustion and dehydration, I loved it. The clear skies and the total lack of light pollution, every twinkling star in the cosmos was out on show.
By the time I arrived at Red Range Campsite, I was wearied, weakened, starved and ready for bed. By all rights, my mental state should have deteriorated, but remarkably, I’d never been happier. Positivity and gratuity for my opportunities fuelled my evening resilience. Plus, I had another cozy hut to look forward to on Day 5.
All the details.
Trail distance covered
Free + National Park Pass.
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.