One of the shorter days on the trail but walking any distance up hills in 30C heat is hard work, particularly when the air is so dry that your sweat evaporates straightaway.
It started well at Finke River with possibly the most spectacular sunrise I’ve ever seen. The intensity of the colours and play across the clouds was incredible. During June the sunrises at 7am and sets at 6pm, so you’re guaranteed to see both everyday, though 11 hours doesn’t leave much margin for some of the walking distances involved.
The 9.1km walk to Ormiston Gorge was relatively uneventful other than more unexpected pools of water, offering lovely reflections against a dramatic sky.
There were more views back toward Mt Sonder, thankfully just off the track (on one of the track markers) was this quite terrifying looking spider, and some nifty bridge work.
Ormiston Gorge is home to a visitor centre serving tantalising good looking cakes (I resisted as had enough food with me already, and anything I’m not eating I’m carrying!) along with very welcome showers. It was great to wash away two and half days of accumulated sweat and dust, wash some clothes for the next section, and collect my food drop from the locker. These Spinifex Pigeons were in wait while I ate my lunch.
I spent a chunk of the afternoon on the Ghost Gum and Ormiston Pound walks along Ormiston Gorge and into the Pound. Even on a grey day these were hugely impressive, with towering walls of red rock. It was pity I couldn’t have explored on a sunny morning when the colours would have been even stronger.
The Ghost Gum by the Lookout is larger than the others as it’s tree roots stretch down through rock 70m to the waterhole below.
The rocks that littered the gorge floor were unlike any I’ve seen, such wonderful colours and shapes.
Heading out into the Pound gave a sense of scale, though also learnt why the Ormiston Pound Walk is described as anti-clockwise. There is no signage for going clockwise (out of the gorge into the Pound) and track is very hard to find. So rather than get lost I headed back into the gorge the way I came.
On the way back I went past the semi-permanent waterhole for more reflections.
To finish with a couple of stories from the day. Firstly always put everything in your pack or tent before going anyway. I popped to the loo half way though sorting to come back to find a crow about to fly away with all my device cables!
Secondly you meet some interesting people while walking. In this case a Canadian Inuit ice truck driver who lives in the North West Territory close to the Arctic Circle. He didn’t realise that you could leave food along the trail so had carried two weeks worth with him, starting with a 30kg pack. The day before he had walked 30km along one of the hardest parts of the trail, in 32C heat with only 2.5 litres of water (should carry at least 6 litres for this section), while wearing jeans!