Heysen Day 3: Middlesite Water Hut to Wilpena Pound (30.4km today, 65.1km in)

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Ouch, my body hurts. Yesterday wasn’t really day 2 with all the pain, I think today is like a usual day 2. My legs and shoulders were tight but my feet are ok.

I slept well in the brick shelter, almost too hit during the night and had to strip off sleep socks and thermals. Looks like the shelter absorbs the heat during the day and retained it during the night.

I have confirmation that my sleeping mat definitely has a slow leak. Extra air was required twice through the night. It wasn’t so bas sleeping on a bench and not the cold hard ground.

With that in mind and shoe issues from yesterday which I expected to reoccur today, I resolved to push a bit further than I originally planned, and reach Wilpena Pound where there would be cell service.

So I was on the track at 6:30am to make use of the cool morning air and flat track for the first few hours of the morning and punch out some quick kilometres.

I was easy hiking for the first eight and a half kilometres following a freshly graded track to the Yaynanna Hut site. Steep escarpments lined the valley on both sides, the sedimentary layers laid down millennia ago, catching the rising sun and turning a myriad of colours. This is a shared section of trail with the Mawson. No riders yet today.

On reaching Yaynanna Hut I caught a couple of school groups getting ready to leave for the day and had a yack with the teachers who had a million questions about my small, school bag sized pack. After a quick snack and water top up it was onto single track for a good chunk, offering up the first glimpses of the northern walls Wilpena Pound on reaching a high point.

Then it was a steep descent down on rough trail, my kind of trail, back towards more dry creek beds. My feet were paining on the descent, toes smashing into the toe box. I swear this pair has been mislabeled in the factory. Think I’m going to send them home and back to La Sportiva to see what they say. They are definitely labelled with the correct size. More emphasis to keep pushing into cell range and get some new shoes sent ahead to Quorn.

The river bed was long but easy walking. The crushed rock in the river bed cushioning under foot. And it was flat for some foot reprieve.

Around 16km in for the day the Heysen merged again with the Mawson and would share the way for the rest if the day.

Quite a few riders on a package tour came past for the remainder of the day. I’d count 30. Mainly trail rail types, grey nomads on bikes. A few ebikers had the right idea to make travel easier. And it wasnt the easiest of trails for this crowd. Some very technical sections with climbing rock gardens. A few would find it too tough a climb and join my on foot. For the most part though it was relatively flat or low graded climbing. Most would past respectfully and always with a friendly greeting.

With 5km I wash smashed. It was only the glimpses of the pound walls and the thought of cell service that drove me on. I need new shoes desperately.

2.5km to go and I found some service on a hill, immediately sitting down to call a running store in Adelaide.

“Good afternoon, you’ve reached The Running Company Adelaide, your speaking with Matt. How can I help you toady.”

“G’day Matt, my name is Mick and today you are going to be my life saver!”

The service was fantastic and we got talking about the Heysen as well. New shoes order and express posted this afternoon to the Quorn post office. I should reach there in 6 to 7 days but still have 165km to get there. The small town of Hawker is closer at only two days away but not close enough even for express post and I’ll be arriving on the weekend with a closed post office. So Quorn it was.

Another 45min and I was in Wilpena Pound, along with another thousand people or so. I was soon checked into a unpowered camp site and made a booking at the popular resort restaurant. Looking forward to a decent cooked meal and a cold beer.

A couple of easier days coming up and I can relax a little more, knowing shoes are on the way. My sleep mat? Well I can put up with for another couple of nights into Hawker where I’ll have access to a sink to see if I can find this leak and patch it. I’ve slept on a hell of a lot worse.

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