Wildongoleechie Hotel open 4-9 pm Wed-Sat Pizzas are awesome!
Heysen Trail, South Australia
The Regional Council of Goyder, South Australia, Australia
time : Jun 12, 2019 8:31 AM
duration : 9h 56m 22s
distance : 19 km
total_ascent : 451 m
highest_point : 932 m
avg_speed : 3.3 km/h
user_id : gstreet
user_firstname : Carl
user_lastname : Greenstreet
Note: fixed the truncated blog
I woke to rain and high winds. Nevertheless, I climbed to the Mt Bryan summit and down to the other side to Hallett. I’m staying in the old Hallett Railway Station where they’ve turned it into a very nice hut. I had dinner and beers at the Wildongoleechie Hotel and I’m feeling quite ready for the next walking stage.
Go look at the pictures, Drew.
I woke up around 1am listening to the heavy winds that had blown up while I slept. By dawn, it was raining steadily and still gusting hard. Not very motivating to get me out of my warm sleeping bag on top of a real mattress! So I laid in bed until nearly 0730 thinking about how Emilio Estavez’s character in the movie The Way dies of exposure in the high Pyrenees Mountains on his first day on the Camino de Santiago. 😬 I’m anticipating that today’s climb over Mt Bryan in these conditions will really test my mettle but not be that severe!
Finally, I got up, had brekkie and coffee, packed and tidied the hut up. No more procrastination, it was time! I put on all of my wet weather gear including my lightweight rain skirt for the first time. Note that some of less secure in their masculinity call it a rain kilt but I’ve always called a spade a spade. It’s a skirt and was a great Chinese deal - cheap, waterproof and stuffs down to a small ball the size of your palm. Beats rain pants in my view, particularly since I made 26 days until I hit must-use conditions!
Within minutes of starting walking, my feet were wet and the outside of me was wet but inside I was dry and warm. In these cold wet conditions, I was wearing my lightweight eVent rain mitt outer shells; as I climbed and it got colder, I put on my possum down gloves underneath.
I road walked for 3-4 kms and then climbed over a fence stile to begin my approach to the really steep climbs. The rain, which had been hard and steady until now, let up for a moment and I even briefly saw a rainbow. As I gained elevation, the views became awesome.
Part way us, I discovered I had gained mobile signal for the first time this week. It was a good excuse to rest and upload the last two day’s trail journals. Yesterday, I selected 30 pics! Yes, I know I’m getting excessive. Feel free to skim or skip.
Now the steep part came and it was long and steep. I went into quadruped mode, aggressively using my poles which really helps. After nearly 600 kms of walking, often steep climbs, my body has adapted and I surprisingly can go up insane grades at a slow steady pace and not feel short of breath. I wish I had a way to measure my fitness changes.
I stopped for pics now and then which was a slow ordeal due to my glove layers (must take them off for capacitance sensing on the phone screen...).
Finally, I reached the Mt Bryan summit. At 934m elevation, Mt Bryan is the highest peak in the Mt Lofty Ranges, some 200 metres higher than Mt Lofty itself.
I was pleased that there was not a white out and that instead I was treated to expansive views with white clouds drifting past. According to Wikipedia, Mt Bryan was discovered in December 1839 by Governor George Gawler and who named it in honour of Henry Bryan, a young man who became lost and perished of thirst during Gawler's expedition. Among those accompanying Gawler were famous explorers Charles Sturt and Henry Inman.
They’ve constructed a monument at the top and a clever metal container with a log book for those who summit. There are also a number of towers and weather stations at the top. Moving around the summit, I came to God’s Seat, a stone chair, almost a throne with a cross on the back, looking out at the expansive views. I tried for a decent selfie but it just didn’t work.
Leaving the summit, I crossed into the high ranges behind. I first followed a 4WD track but the cut off into a field where I had a long episode of fence following as I dropped off the ranges.
When I hit the mostly level paddock below, I came upon a deep erosional gorge. Looking into it, I spied a fox working along it. Not sure if he was using it to get near to lambs without being seen but it meant he couldn’t really run from me, he just could move down the gorge. I got a number of photos although, once again, an iPhone is lousy when you want to zoom.
At last I came to a dirt country road where I walked into the edge of Hallett and the old Railway Station which is my hut for the night. This hut is more accessible so is locked but the combination is available to walkers. Once again, I was blown away by these free facilities- this hut has a wonderful kitchen, with a pot bellied stove, lots of wood cut and inside, a long table with candles and a new stainless sink and supplies. It even had a solar battery bank which I used to top up my battery bank.
Since I had a short day, I used the time to wash out my wet, filthy and stinking socks which are now drying in front of the warm stove. I even took a washcloth bath myself as I am, after all, walking into town in a bit to have a beer and a pub meal in the Wild Dog Hotel. It’s been a good day.
It looks like the weather is clearing a bit and the chance of rain is much less tomorrow. I’m faced with a lousy campsite tomorrow; Whistling Trig is on top of an exposed ridge and rarely suitable for camping due to high winds. My alternative choices in this hilly country are a road cut which is likely going to be muddy. I guess I deal with that problem tomorrow! It’s nearly pub time! 🙃
Postscript: I walked down to Hallett and stopped by the General Store / Craft Outlet. The owner, Chris, an Irishman, is active in Hallett and put up the historic signboards in the hut. I note that Chis tries to carry some hiker supplies and you might be able to do a rough resupply here.
Chris said that a hiker left a $50 donation, which he matched, which is why this hut has so many supplies (sponges, detergent, paper towels etc) plus the solar charger. Talk about paying it forward!!
I went on to the Wildongoleechie Hotel, sometimes known as the Wild Dog Hotel due to the stuffed dingo behind the bar. The publican, also named Chris, is a transplanted NSW native who tries to keep this 150 year old pub running when so many of the country pubs in the region have failed. I enjoyed meeting and talking with some of the locals and Chris made me a huge pizza that was better than any I had had in quite some time. A few beers later and will a full stomach, I strapped on a headlamp and walked the 1.5 km back to my hut. It’s been a good day despite the wild weather. Tomorrow, I will solve the Whistling Trig campsite problem one way or the other!