Walk like a man, talk like a man.
Solo hiking is a wonderfully reflective experience. Your brain deviates in a myriad of different directions before, inevitably, stumbling on the answer, or discovering that your mind has wandered off track. For much of the last seven and a half weeks, I’d stewed in this solitary contemplative state. While I’d enjoyed several on-trail conversations since entering the Barossa Valley on Day 42, my mouth still hadn’t acclimatised to casual conversation. Day 52‘s 23-kilometres trek with my mate Matt was different. I happily abandoned my talkative training wheels and regained the ability to articulate.
Heysen Trail Diary – Day 52
The morning’s foggy drizzle had cleared by the time Matt’s car pulled into Chookaraloo Campground. I had already packed my belongings and sat eagerly awaiting the day’s camaraderie. After Day 51’s unforeseen dip in energy, I looked forward to my next spike in momentum—a country ramble with close company would almost certainly do the trick. It wasn’t long before we were jabbering away on the pine-lined track toward the 347-hectare Kyeema Conservation Park.
The area at the western end of Kyeema Conservation Park was established as a labour prison in 1932. The camp was intended for Yatala’s well-behaved prisoners, with detainees placed on their honour to behave.
For most of the previous 52 days, I was left alone to contemplate my existence. However, following a fortnight of social interactions, my mind had gradually reawakened from my subconscious’ slumberous state. I was now a regular chatty Cathy.
Solo hiking long distances is a powerful tool to disconnect from the regularity of normal life. I’d experienced never-before-seen connectivity and understanding with my thoughts and life around me. I had mulled countless personal reflections and resurfaced out the other side of all of them. My time in isolation was unquestionably fruitful, but I was ready to reconnect with humanity. I missed day-to-day face-to-face interactions.
Before I knew it, we had arrived at our second reserve for the day, Mount Magnificent Conservation Park. Full of beans, we clambered up the steep detour to the nearby mountainous peak to admire the comprehensive views over the southern Fleurieu Peninsula. The panorama took in neighbouring farmland, rolling ranges and the gaping mouth of Australia’s longest continuous river system, the Murray River.
After I unleashed the camera on the overcast scenery, we carefully stepped our way back down the slope and continued our journey toward our accommodation for the night at Matt’s mother-in-law’s home. I instantly felt the warm welcome of their generous and loving household.
Much like my lunchtime catch-up with Holly and her lovely family on Day 50, the staggering difference between our current life paths was blindingly obvious; a bubbly, energetic family unit hosting a weary meandering nomad—contrasts don’t come much greater. I had relished the regular company and I would be sad to see it disappear again on Day 53.
All the details.
Trail distance covered
Cool damp winters with light to heavy showers and some days of rain. The coastal section is prone to fog and misty rain but is warmer than the inland ranges during winter. The ranges are wetter and cooler during winter but are warmer during autumn and spring. Summers are warm to hot and relatively dry.
A few small bumps and one large one up to the summit of Mount Magnificent Conservation Park.