Day 3. It’s OK, I didn’t break anything!

23 August 2021. Words by Andy Le Roy. Images by Creolumen.

It was pretty windy overnight. Kind of what you’d expect for mountain ranges. After a long day’s drive and little taster walk last night, we decided we’d try one of the many walks through the area today. Is difficult easier than strenuous? We figured yes.

It was bit nippy this morning as we cut across to the dining room for breakfast. Eggs Bene for Chris and a rustic breakfast for me. The tomato was sweet, the avocado was perfectly ripened, the halloumi and feta complemented the dukka perfectly. Yum. We watched a couple of magpies and a large crow in turn as they completed what looked lke a well worn circuit… through the smokers’ area, down the walkway and through the fence into the pool area. No scraps to be found, so off they flew. Blast those literate guests!

Water packed, sunnies and beanies on, we set out for the trail head. The walk we wanted to do looked like it started in another section, so we decided to walk in the diection of some other treks instead, but a hundred metres or so down the path, what did we see? The Ohlssen-Bagge trail. Ding dong!

The guide says four hours return and my travel agent said her four year old grandchild did the walk with their parents, so how hard could it be? We’re not pumped up four year olds. On a scale of one to ten we’d put our general fitness at about minus six, but we had all day, and it promised some spectacular views at the top. It took us two and a half hours to get to the top, which we figured was just fine.

The track was fairly easy at the beginning. Nothing we hadn’t done before. Interpretive signage for another loop walk that shared this part of the pathway told us about some of the flora and fauna indigenous to the area. At the 1.4km mark, we reached the end point of the shared walk’s loop and the signage stopped. The gradient increased and we spotted what must have been the end point of our journey, for which we were almost half way based on the last distance maker.

Looking back from where we’d come, this elevation revealed the nearby airstrip and the Wilpena Homestead in a distant clearing. A sip of water and a few happy snaps later we resumed our walk. Reflective markers and small white arrows started appearing, guiding us on our way. We reached a peak, scrambling over steep rocks and saw the track continued. A sip of water, a couple of photos. On we went.

The incline became steeper in some sections, and there was some more rock hugging to find our footing. That must’ve been an extremely fit four year old! Behind us we could see the camp grounds near where we’re staying and a small lake. The mountain ranges to the left were more visible, their series of peaks rising like a crocodile’s armour into the air. Another landing and still the track continued. This was next level, as we stretched and climbed, prone on the short, almost vertical rock face. It’s OK. If we’d fallen, it wouldn’t have been very far and the bushes would have broken our fall.

A young couple were making their descent and assured us we were close and the track was easier from this point. It was also very windy, but well worth the climb, so on we pressed. Steep stone steps and large rocks provided purchase as we rose higher. The marker ahead told us we still had 1.6 k’s to go. This didn’t seem right, and I wanted to ask that couple if they knew someone with a very fit toddler.

The ranges in the distance behind Wilpena Pound started to become visible, with their gentle blue hues. The shadows across the escarpment wove colours of red, green and brown. At last, a sign told us the summit was four hundred metres away. Our energy quickly reactivated and before long we were at the top, enjoying the sweeping views of Wilpena Pound. One one side, the mountains were like an angled cross section of cake, caramel tones peaking through green icing. On the opposite end, the mountain faces of reddish brown were dotted with green shrubbery, like a dalmation’s coat in full colour.

The wind was arriving in small but strong gusts, and we could see light showers of rain scattered around the general area. It was calming to be able to sit on top of this peak and take in all of Mother Earth’s grandeur. It was time to go after a well earned and well appreciated pause. The wind picked up again as we were leaving, making our way across angled rocks to start our decent, and just like that, I lost my footing and sprained my ankle. Swears have been removed to keep our G rating.

I recovered after the initial shock and moved on. Within several minutes it happened again. More swears, also withheld. Chris found me a fallen stick for support, and we made our way very slowly back, passing the sign that said the peak was four hundred metres from whence we came.

Slowly, slowly we crept, my limping setting the pace. Those large stone steps and rocks seemed much higher and much less stable now. Those rock faces we hugged on the way up? A slow descent using the full power of gluteus maximus was the only way. I was concerned my jeans would suffer the same fate as my swimmers on the rock slide at Mt Druitt Waterworks all those years ago, torn to shreds leaving viewers in the rear with a surprising and unwelcome picture. Jeans are tougher than polyester bathers, luckily, and they’re still in tact.

The four-hour walk ended up being closer to seven. The view was magnificent, and the total inventory of animals we passed was two lizards and a family of finches.

Chris gets to play nurse maid for me this time after he befell unlucky events on our last two holidays, but it’s not a score I’m looking to beat. I’m very grateful for him and for the day we’ve had. I wouldn’t recommend the added twist of ankle at the summit’s cafe, but I’ll let you make your own choice.

It’s dinner in tonight, after a hot shower, some Nurofen and Powerade. There’s an ice pack on my ankle as Survivor plays on the telly. Irony or confirmation of my stamina? Time for fruit salad. Tomorrow is another glorious day!

Day 4.

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