South Australia, Heysen Trail
Clare and Gilbert Valleys Counci, South Australia, Australia
time : Jul 7, 2020 7:32 AM
duration : 8h 10m 4s
distance : 30.2 km
total_ascent : 537 m
highest_point : 602 m
avg_speed : 3.9 km/h
user_id : gstreet
user_firstname : Carl
user_lastname : Greenstreet
I woke up before dawn to a cool breeze but dry tent - they are related! Camping on a breezy ridge eliminates condensation and dew, for which I am grateful. Did I mention once or twice before that I hate packing up a wet tent? 😀😬
I break camp and greet Geert (sorry, I’ve been misspelling his name with only one “e”, whoops!). I look at my emails and see I’ve heard back from Julian at FotH. He tells me he believes there are issues with the adjoining landholder to the Smith Hill Campsite. Someone recently camped there, went onto the private property and left trash so the pissed-off landholder apparently pulled the tap off the tank and emptied it to discourage camping. I hope someone will have a chat with him as his actions are very irresponsible towards long distance hikers who are counting on the water tanks.
I decide I have enough water for Granola but not coffee. I hate you, adjacent landholder or whoever vandalised the tank! Soon, Geert and I are heading down the other side of the ridge. At the bottom, we walk parallel to the ridge in a lightly wooded area that is quite pretty.
This side of the ridge is shaded plus there are many clouds rolling in. With the stiff breeze, I’m freezing. My hood is up and my buff is pulled up around my ears and chin. I pull on rain mitts but my hands still ache. It’s one of those times when you are miserable on the trail and wonder if you brought enough gear. (“Fear brings gear”, but it’s tricky to get the balance right)
I finally tell Geert that I’m going to walk on ahead as I need to pick up the pace to stay warm. Sure enough, in a half hour, my hands stop aching and I feel okay again.
After about 8-10 kms, I reach the climb to Webb Gap. I’m just starting to head up the hill, when I hear a car behind me. A man gets out and has a chat with me. His name is John Symthe and he is part of a nature conservancy group that buys up land for animal, bird and plant conservation. They started buying land on Kangaroo Island but subsequently bought quite a bit of the Tothill Ranges ridge line. He is going up to the crest to scout out some sort of rare insect eating plant that scientists are coming to study next week. He offers me water, which I accept a litre - the Webb Gap campsite is only a 2 km climb away but I don’t know the water tank status.
We say our goodbyes and I climb to the Webb Gap campsite to find a full water tank but someone had taken or burnt all the decking boards on the multi-use platform, leaving the frame only. 😡🤬
I take a leisurely break and while filtering several litres of water, Geert comes in. He is quite tired and his foot is bothering him. He tells me that if walking continues to be difficult, he’ll stop early and stealth camp. I shake his hand thinking I probably won’t see him again and I start walking again. It’s still a bit too cold and breezy to be stationary long.
As I walk down the ridge, the weather improves immensely. The breeze drops off and the clouds clear to blue sky and sun. Walking is suddenly easy and pleasant again.
It stays that way for the next 16 kms and, although footsore, I enjoy the stunning scenery and the simple act of walking.
I climb up a rough 4wD track through Niblet Gap, my fourth crossing of the Tothill Ranges. I then parallel the base again but the landscape becomes more arid and rugged with large steep hills to my right. I can see a large dry lagoon in the distance surrounded by green fields and under the shadow of many wind turbines up on the ridge.
Eventually I drop down and work up a winding green valley to reach Huppatz Hut at last. At a bit of 30 kms, I’m tired but there are camp chores to do - set up bedding, sweep out hut and get a fire ready. There isn’t a lot of large wood so I drag a large fallen gum log 300 metres which takes some time.
It’s nearing dusk and I’m sitting on the front porch writing in the logbook when I here steps and Geert has arrived! He said the afternoon’s walk was so much better and enjoyable.
We’re fed, warm in front of a big fire and thinking of sleep. Geert has been sketching / water colours the fire and I’ve been writing my journal. It’s been a good day. Tomorrow we start with a major climb, “THE BIG HILL”, but the overall day is short at 20kms. One more night in the tent and then a break in Burra with Lisa and friends.
Carl / Polgrim
Weather: cold 6 deg morning with a freezing wind, turning sunny and nice in the arvo.
Calories burnt: 3214