FWAP FWAP FWAP. Ugh why didn’t I pitch my tarp properly. Sensible Snakebite knows still night at bed means nothing for future wind potential, yet lazy Snakebite said it would be totally fine and no need to spend 2 minutes fixing it. FWAP FWAP FWAP. I could get out of bed now, or just lie in bed dozing until the next gust makes the tarp go crazy and it wakes me up. It’ll die down soon. Fwap. FWAP. Fwap.
From 1130pm until 330am it gusts, then dies down in time for me to get 2hours sleep.
I wake to people shuffling around on the ridge. I unzip my tarp, roll up the door and look at the beautiful glowing horizon. At least I pitched in the perfect direction for lying in bed and watching the sunrise.
I get up and wander over to the edge where Turtle is sitting. Salt joins us after a few minutes and we stare at the horizon, chatting sporadically, and generally being in a sleepy, awestruck daze. The view is amazing across the valley and distant mountains. Last night we could see the Alice town lights.
Eventually I tear myself away from the view and pack up my things. There is layer of red dirt on everything from the wind.
Hiking down from the bluff is, as usual, very rocky but it’s skinny razorback descent that is fun to clamber down and awesome views either side. I’m hiking straight into the sun which is blinding, but warms me up and soon my puffy and Owly (beanie) get shoved away, and my sunnies, hat and suncream appear.
A couple of very steep but short climbs but then down down down. It’s about 10km from the top down to Standley and I pass a lot of groups that are making a day trip up and back down. It’s nice to have a chat to some of them, a lot are enamoured with my socks and gaiters, and the guides are always keen for a chat. I think having a conversation that isn’t “Are we there yet” is a little bit exciting for them 😉
Once at the bottom it’s a few more km through the creek bed in the gorge. It’s wide, easy navigation but suddenly THUNK. I’m at a bitumen road. Huh?
I spy a sign and this is actually the road. I wander 700m to the cafe where I order a ginger beer and endure stares from the clean day hikers and clueless chasm walkers. The day hikers will usually hit a few walking trails. The chasm walkers are just here for the Standley chasm and will walk about 2km. Salt is here and has decided to hike out. I sit and sip the sugary ginger goodness, pick up my food drop and arrange all my things. I clear all the little nooks of my pack of rubbish, then sit and stare into the never never while waiting for Turtle to arrive.
Salt takes off down the trail and we may see him again on the final night as he is due to walk into Alice the same time as us, but I have a feeling he will finish up early.
Turtle and I were going to stay here tonight, however there isn’t much room for camping, the food at the cafe is minimal, and the hike tomorrow will be hot and hard. So I’m just hanging until I can confirm a change of plans with Turtle.
I wander over to the lawn area, lie down with my feet on my pack and close my eyes. A few minutes later Turtle arrives! She has a special talent for chatting to everyone and taking her time 😉
We decide to hang around camp and take a few hours off out of the sun, then hike about 5km late this afternoon to make tomorrow easier.
I wash some socks and undies in the sink in the laundry area and hang them to dry. We plug our phones in to charge, order salad sandwiches that are served with a non-hiker portion of packet chips. This is inhaled and washed down with a soy flat white. I immediately feel like another, but refrain. We take the little tourist walk down the chasm which is stunning! Huge huge towering walls, beautiful lush vegetation due to it being one of only a few permanent water sources in the area, light bouncing around and little education signs along the way.
Back in the camp we fill up water, soak dinner, do all the things we can possibly do, then have one last coffee while waiting out the last of the heat before we climb the giant climb up above the chasm. Mmmm proper coffee.
The trail goes steeply above the chasm and around the back and down the other side. It is absolutely amazing. Just stunning. We make little videos and generally waste time as it is too amazing to leave. Except we have to as our light is disappearing fast. It’s not long before the headlamps come out and we are hopping, jumping and scrambling through the creek bed. There aren’t a lot of signs, so we call out “sign!” excitedly with every one that we see. A small comfort on a confusing trail. Are there snakes out here? I freak myself out a little bit, then remember all the night hikes I’ve done in mountain lion territory, eat a couple of spoons of concrete and continue. We are soooo slow tonight! Tricky tricky trail.
We finally arrive a Millers Flat, which is some tent sites cleared in the tall grass. We set up, I heat up some delicious tempeh for dinner, then as it’s getting chilly we say goodnight to the mice and spiders crawling about, and head off to sleep with the pretty pretty stars watching over us.