Larapinta Trail Day 5 – Ellery Creek to Hugh Gorge

Ugh what a night. The temperature dropped massively in the night and I was freezing on my little platform. I sought to remedy this by laying my tarp over my sleeping quilt, only to wake up with a soaking wet quilt. A pack of dingoes ran into the canyon in the night and started howling – such a creepy howl! Kind of like wolves but spookier. So there was not a lot of sleep.
The stars, however, were beautiful as the moon was dark and I got to watch the milky way glide across me through the night. Yay stars!
I wake grumpily and pack up my things fast. I head out, headlamp on and start the small climb after the river bed. We are climbing up over the other side of the mountain and dropping to the plain below. The sun is rising just as I get to the top of the hill and the plain is bathed in gold. I see movement to my left and spy a kangaroo!!! Finally an animal on the trail (apart from the dingoes). There is wildlife in the desert!
The trail drops down into the long grass and heads north east to join up with the northern part of the ranges. A long “Larapinta flat” day on the exposed dirt. The morning is crisp and lovely and I try to hike fast because the temperature is going to rise quickly.

This way

I make it to Rocky Gully camp early at 1030am (which is possibly the least exciting camp I have seen on trail) and find a small patch of shade in the dirt in which to sit down. Lunch at 1030am!!! Jack and Turtle roll in not too long afterwards and we do all the break things – eat, get excited about what we are eating, complain that we don’t have enough to eat, and refill all our water.
I head out about 45min later into the heat and towards our camp for the night. It really is a piece of filler trail today just to join the two sections of mountains – nothing too exciting to see. The ground is rocky so my feet are hurting, and I’m really excited to see a platform midway under some gorgeous corkwood trees and next to a giant ghost gum. Jack is lying down and in bad shape as he hasn’t got the hang of electrolytes and their importance in desert hiking. I give him some of my electrolyte powder and he takes off after a few minutes instead of hanging out for his core temp to decrease and rest like a sane human. The idea of “getting it done” is a dangerous one in the heat – if you are too hot, if you are feeling weird or bad or not quite yourself STOP. Rest. Allow your core temperature to decrease. Drink electrolytes.  Then, hopefully when the temperature has dropped some, head out. The desert is not forgiving – a little mistake out here is never little.

Ghost gum flat
Ghost gum

I hang up my tarp to dry and elevate my feet to wait until Turtle arrives to see how she is faring.
It takes a while for her to arrive, and when she does I find out she had a really bad nose bleed! Rotten desert heat and dust creating havoc with our bodies. We hang for a little bit, then hike out together then spread out on the trail as we head in to the Hugh Gorge camp.
There is a shelter! The first one we have arrived at to sleep in. I pack-splode all over one of the platforms and raise my feet. Jack got some amazing trail magic- he spied a group of people past the shelter heading down a 4wd track. He asked the group leader if she had any electrolytes he could buy, and she gave him a whole tube and an orange. They are staying 200m down the road in a permanent group tentsite and she offered him a ride to Alice if he isn’t feeling any better tomorrow. Talk about luck! We play around with trail names for Jack – Electrolyte doesn’t roll easily off the tongue so his name is now officially Salt.
Turtle arrives and we all lie about trying to soak up energy from anywhere. We are zapped.
We eat dinner at 5pm and faff about doing nothing and everything for 2 more hours before setting up beds. Two groups of people arrive in the meantime from the East; the older trio looking decidedly annoyed to see that the shelter is occupied, the other a dutch couple that kindly answer our bazillion questions about what Larapinta magic we have to face tomorrow. Turtle’s new trail name for the day is Questions.
With our dinner in our bellies, and our water all refilled, we lie down and hope for a warmer night than last night. As soon as the lights are out we hear scurrying under the platforms. I just up, turn on my headlamp to see mice running about. We quickly rearrange things, putting all our food and smelly stuff in the cupboard so hopefully we don’t wake up with holes in our packs, and hopefully the cupboard is indeed mouse proof!