From creek beds and plains to sky-high views, the diversity continued along the Heysen Traill.
By now it really shouldn’t have surprised me, but the unexpected changes of landscapes just keep on coming. Day 9 was no different. In fact, it was the poster boy of variety. Stoney paths, fence-lined paddocks, grassy brooks, arid slopes, rocky creek beds, hilly climbs and mountainous ascents were all a part of an epic journey.
Daily Diary – Day 9
After arriving well after nightfall on an exhausting Day 8, my body was in desperate need of a sleep in. I eventually rolled out of my sleeping bag, threw some porridge down my throat and clambered up the nearest hill. It had been a couple of days since I had any meaningful phone reception and I knew I’d have several messages wondering if I was still conscious. Remarkably, I managed to get a few bars and answer the handful of life-concerning queries stockpiled in my Facebook and Instagram inboxes.
However, there were more surprises in store. As I arrived at camp in the dark, I had little idea about the surrounding landscape. From on top of the hill, I took in the majestic semi-arid views, including the sight of numerous kangaroo colonies going about their morning routine. It was like a roo highway sprawled out in front of me. Each family would follow the same tracks through the countryside, endeavouring to find the best patch of shade to call home for the day; an indulgence I, unfortunately, couldn’t afford.
The first section of the day’s hike took some time to navigate. The trail was scattered with ankle-twisting rocks waiting to explode your joints with one misstep. Thankfully, my sturdy footwear acted as a type of moon boot, making it difficult to do too much damage.
From here, the landscape changed every few kilometres. The soles of my boots experienced every terrain imaginable; harsh rocks turned into dirt, dirt turned into grass, grass turned into smoothed stone and stone turned into rich soil.
It wasn’t long before the trail began heading upward. Slowly at first along Buckaringa Gorge, the incline then increased through Yadlamalka Pastoral Station. By the time I reached Mt Arden, I felt like I was half hiker, half cloud.
Mt Arden was named in 1802 by Matthew Flinders, after his great-grandmother.
Heysen Trail Map Sheet 7
The lofty hills that I had scrambled up earlier in the day appeared like mosquito bites popping out of the earth’s skin. I could see way back to the landscapes I was navigating on Day 4.
I reached the summit of Mt Arden just as the sun was dipping over the distant horizon. I only had a few minutes to appreciate the view before the temperatures at this high altitude began to drop. Chalk up another stunning golden sunset for the trail. It might be my last one for a little while, however, as the radar was looking a little ominous for Day 10 and beyond.
All the details.
Trail distance covered
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.
Be prepared for every single type of terrain under the arid sun, especially the steep climb to the summit of Mt Arden.