New Zealand 2020
This was the first long distance hike I’d planned since the Australian Alps Walking Track and it could not have been more different. First of all because I was actually prepared this time! Mish and I had completed four additional smaller hikes by now, so not only was I feeling very fit but I actually own gear that fits me.
After some initial research we found that the best time to complete the 230km hike is in June/July, because even in the winter the heat can be stifling. So naturally we began in late August. (Cue badass music).
I’d never been to Alice Springs before, and there is certainly one word that comes to mind: Red. Its red, its just very very red. We stayed one night with our lovely friends Karen & Jacko, whom we know through the folk scene before being driven out by the Larapinta Trail Treck Support (LTTS) to Mt. Sonder. LTTS are a wonderful, yet tiny company. With only four full time workers, you can’t expect a prompt reply to your email, but they are genuinely dedicated to the track and to your safety, having made a pact that each member solo hikes the whole trek every few years.
The first day we climbed Mt. Sonder. The highest point along the hike at 1380m, its technically off of the trail, so while you don’t need to climb it you’d be a sucker not to. Speaking of suckers, we immediately found out how quickly you dehydrate in the Alice Springs sun. The walk simply wouldn’t be possible (for us whiteys) without the water tanks installed throughout the hike. Water was so plentiful all throughout the AAWT that you take it for granted. When we arrived in Alice it hadn’t rained for eight months and it showed! There were 5 or so beautiful gorges teaming with water, but on the whole the place was so dry and dusty, and did I mention red?
You acclimatise though. Before long we’d learnt to leave by 7:30am and get the majority of our hiking finished before lunch, then relax for the hottest part of the day before hiking a little further before dinner. Every now and then we’d get lazy and sleep in, only to immediately be punished by the suns intense heat. If you walk in the heat, you have to replace the sweat you lose by carrying more water, which makes you sweat more….
Perhaps my favourite part of the whole thing was running into three Canberran scientists. They were reading the Deltora Quest series aloud on a kindle, and laughing hysterically at how poorly the series has aged in the 20 years since we were children. However fondly I had remembered the series, it was worth trading in my nostalgia for these three new friends, whose uncanny sense of humour and camaraderie made me look forward to every shared campsite. We even altered our itinerary so we could spend more time with them.
One of the worst things about hikes is that they end, and the Lara was no different. If you walk East to West like we did, civilisation begins to loom in front of you for the last three days, while the splendor of the landscape tends to flatten out and the heat really beats down on you. We walked 50kms in two days to finish early and enjoy and ice-cream while rolling around on the first grass we’d seen in 15 days. Full gallery
Mickey or Michelle, depending who has more to say on the subject :)