Dutchmans Stern to Mt Arden South campsite
to Buckaringa Gorge
Northern Guidebook, Maps 4.2-4.6
Sunrise at the Dutchman Hut
Saturday we set out from Dutchmans Hut. The previous night we had left a car at the end of the two-day hike, and we spent the night in this hut, just a short walk from the carpark in Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park. Very nice hut - electricity and very lean - but I woke up heaps of times that night because of some loud thing banging outside in the wind. Next morning, discovered it was a loose bit of wire holding one of the old doors on the back of the hut closed - damn it, it was so easy to fix. Beautiful sunrise in the east, lightning flashes in the west. But it was dry at that moment, so at 7.15 we set off. Oh my such amazing views.
Despite our heavy packs - complete with tent, cooking stuff, sleeping bags etc - we made it to Eyre Depot by 11.45, had an early lunch in the gorge further on - a much needed break, in the past 17km we had only had one break. The weather was holding off, amazing - cloudy, strangely warm day. The next 11km though took fooooreeever. It took us 4 hours to get to camp, making it there at 4.15, but gosh we were exhausted. The creek was beautiful, but so long. I had set up my GPS by pre-loading the trail onto it, so with amazing accuracy we could always tell by looking at the GPS if we were on the trail and exactly how far it was to the campsite (via the trail, not in a straight line), it was demoralising how slow our progress was. I slipped over at one point and got some lovely grazes, although for all the bandaging they are not very impressive. We went up the waterfall rather than the re-route, nothing huge but thankfully someone had tied a rope from the top to the bottom - otherwise it just wouldn't have been possible. Wouldn't want to do any of this creek in the wet.
After an exhausting walk we found the campsite, thankfully complete with shelter and water. After a nice warm dinner, it was off to bed for an early night.
Made fast progress up to Mt Arden where we were welcomed by the morning sun and an incredible wind. From here it just got madder and madder - the wind just got absolutely crazy. We had no care for the view, it was so much work to put one foot in front of the other to stay on the trail. At some gusty points we had to stop and do this weird crouch thing and prop-up with out poles to ensure we didn't get blown away. It was so funny yet seriously tiring. The end of the ridge couldn't come fast enough.
Made it back to the car at 11.30am, just 4 hours after leaving camp. A brisk walk at the end to avoid the impending rain, as I opened the car boot to put my pack in it started (while Graham and Steve madly tried to clamber over that weird stile on the sanctuary gate). Driving home it rained constantly, and on some roads there was water all over the road and beside it. I looked up the Bureau of Meteorology website and it had rained over 10mm near Snowtown (which is where there was just water everywhere).
Stopped off at Stone Hut bakery on the way home for some lunch with attitude, and Graham for his insolence got an extra helping of attitude.
A good weekend, but easily the toughest any of us have ever done on the trail.
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