From unbeatable highs to a deflating low.

My journey to date was filled with smiling faces, helping hands and unimaginable displays of kindness. While South Australia’s astonishing scenery often receives my daily praise, the support I’d received both online and in person left the greatest impression. Selfless trail angels appeared around every corner and I remain eternally grateful for their generosity. However, one malicious act on Day 49, which threatened to end my adventure, torpedoed my trust in humanity.

Daily Diary – Day 49

The mid-morning sun was high by the time I left Day 48’s Airbnb accommodation and resumed my hike through the lush Adelaide Hills. The combination of a cozy bed, a sizzling hot shower and a non-porridge breakfast predictably delayed my departure. Thankfully, it didn’t take long to rejoin the trail.

Adelaide Cleland Conservation Park Heysen Trail

Tree-lined tracks were a constant feature on Day 49.

The day’s scenery was impossibly leafy. I had no idea so much dense foliage existed in such close proximity to Adelaide’s metropolitan sprawl. The route wound through a trail-high three conservations parks (Giles, Horsnell Gully and Cleland), past the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens and finished at the forest-filled Woodhouse Activity Centre.

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is dedicated to the exhibition and cultivation of the world’s cool-climate plants, which flourish in the Adelaide Hills environment.
botanicgardens.sa.gov.au

The views were up there with the best of the trail. I skimmed between blossoming gullies, scaled rewarding ridges, admired dramatic lookouts and passed through the ever-popular Mount Lofty Summit. The weather was mild, the tracks were shady and the birds were singing; it may have been the perfect hiking day.

Heysen Trail Adelaide Mt Lofty Summit

Mount Lofty Summit was just how I remembered it. Busy!

After a week of challenging, yet profoundly satisfying, hiking, I felt on top of the world. For lack of a better term, I was riding a ‘hiker’s high’. The prefrontal and limbic regions of my brain must have been hemorrhaging endorphins as a blissful daze accompanied me throughout the 19.8-kilometre journey.

To amplify the euphoric sensation, my parents drove down from the Barossa and surprised me at the entrance of the Woodhouse Activity Centre. They’d planned another delicious schnitzel feast in the nearby town of Crafers – I am hardly one turn down such an offer. I quickly erected my tent, hurled my belongings inside, ripped a fresh shirt from my overflowing rucksack and jumped into the cushy car. Let those endorphins ooze!

I prattled on about the day’s unimaginable views from the second they collected me to the moment they delivered me back to the campsite. I couldn’t help it, I was still riding the high. Our dinner date was the ideal end to a near-perfect day; all I had left to do was wriggle into bed.

Heysen Trail Adelaide City

I hugged mum and dad, walked their car to the exit, waved them off down the road and trudged back into the campground. The cool night air was the only thing keeping me alert. I crawled into my tent and began rummaging through the scattered mess for my bedding. I rummaged and rummaged, stopped, and rummaged again. My sleeping bag was missing. What the flip? On further discovery, my mat had disappeared too! I scanned the entire tent, nothing. I searched the surrounding area. Nothing still. I’d been robbed!

The Woodhouse helpers enlisted a search party to no avail. It was official, there was a thief in, or around, the campgrounds, but nobody knew who. The unbridled ecstasy I’d experienced through the day had dissolved into dread. I was now burdened with troubling questions. How could I finish without proper bedding? How could I trust anybody else along the trail? How could I make this work? All answers would have to wait for Day 50’s morning light.

All the details.

Trail distance covered

19.81km

Accommodation

Woodhouse Activity Centre

Price

Available here.

Climate

Cool damp winters with light to heavy showers and some days of rain. The ranges are wet and cool during winter but are warmer during autumn and spring. Summers are warm to hot and relatively dry.

Terrain

Beautifully exhausting hilly parklands and gardens.