Keep calm and hobble on.
If you’re not expecting to be left battered and bruised after 2 months of rugged hiking, you still have something to learn; I had one particularly unpleasant lesson remaining. I was expecting to be challenged on the Heysen Trail, but never did I anticipate to be left so physically deteriorated on my last days of the hike. Fortunately, my mind was still in the game. On Day 58, I overcame injury, fatigue, sleep deprivation and an abrupt bout of wintry weather before ultimately arriving at my final campsite.
Heysen Trail Diary – Day 58
I nervously peeled back my sleeping bag, hoping that the ankle I had mangled on Day 57 was the result of a bad dream. Alas, it wasn’t. My puffy appendage had doubled in both volume and colour overnight and it was immediately obvious I would fight to cram it back into my soggy hiking boot.
The weather, too, had deteriorated. Sheets of chilly rain had swept through Tapanappa Campground overnight and a murky fog saturated Deep Creek Conservation Park come morning. Despite my calamitous circumstances, I had no choice but to soldier on.
Deep Creek Conservation Park is home to an array of native wildlife such as western grey kangaroos, short beaked echidnas and over 100 bird species. Whales can also be seen during their annual migration, from June to October.
The first few kilometres of the day were as expected; a battle. My aching ankle could only manage slow, tentative steps along the slippery mud-soaked track. However, after an hour of blood circulating through the joints, my muted mobility grew surprisingly agile.
Despite my growing list of ailments, the biggest hindrance from the day was the scarcity of scenic views. The highly-publicised panoramas that overlooked carpets of native foliage and an endless ocean were thwarted by a thick ‘pea soup’ fog. What I could see, however, at a short distance was still worth the effort. The gushing Deep Creek Waterfall near Trig Campground and the abundance of dazzling lilies (despite their noxious weed status) at Eagle Waterhole Campground were both genuine trail highlights.
Because of the impenetrable fog and constant cloud coverage, it felt like the sun had never woken from its nightly slumber. The day’s steady breeze had increased to a buffeting gale by the time I arrived at the elevated Cobbler Hill Campground. Fortunately, there were several half-sheltered spaces available to aid my efforts in wrangling my tent to the ground.
With an hour of stunted sunlight left, I had nothing left to do but ponder the last two months. Not since Day 25 at Bundaleer Weir Campsite had I taken the time to actively reflect on my journey, and, unavoidably, my life as a whole. So much had happened since that point, and the recollections of South Australia’s gorgeous natural backdrop came flooding back.
Then it dawned on me, this was my last night on the Heysen Trail, my last sleep in a tent and, god-willing, my last dehydrated meal for a long while. Suddenly, I turned incredibly sentimental. The trek was over. Already? A short 13.62 kilometres and a beachside saunter on Day 59 was all that stood between me and the Cape Jervis finish line.
All the details.
Trail distance covered
Available here + park entry fee.
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.
There is a constant flow of undulating slopes throughout Deep Creek Conservation Park’s stretch of the Heysen Trail.