Larapinta Trail Day 5 – Serpentine Chalet Dam to Serpentine Gorge (Section 8)

Thankfully a much easier day than yesterday, though more because it was half the distance, not because it was any flatter, with a steep ascent and descent up to a ridge line offering more stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

It also helped that the temperature returned to more normal for June, low to mid twenties during the day and low single digits at night, finally got to wear the thermals I’d carried without using to date.

In the morning I walked 150m from the shelter at Serpentine Chalet Dam to the said dam. Built in the 1960s it was both slightly surreal and had the most incredible looking canyon behind it.

I hit the track at pace along the flat first 5km before hitting a decent ascent up to Counts Point Junction. Further up the ridge from here is Counts Point, one of the most spectacular on the trail. What a place to camp!

The views continued along the ridge line for some distance, though it was difficult to walk on, lots of rocks, hard on the ankles.

Along the way were numerous examples of this wonderful ripple rock, amazing what nature can produce.

The track then dropped steeply down over 300m to Serpentine Gorge which had the best campsite to date. It was beautifully set among the trees, with well maintained and laid out camping areas, and a backdrop of the gorge. For the third night I slept in the shelter, much easier than setting up my tent, with plenty of clean space to lay out my things.

I talked to a lady from the Blue Mountains near Sydney, walking solo in the opposite direction. Despite suffering from heat stroke, having nerve issues in her feet which made every step painful, and dehydrating despite drinking 10 litres of water a day, she was still going and two thirds of the way through the Larapinta. Impressive persistence!

A short but steep walk from the campsite is the Serpentine Gorge Lookout Walk, another steep set of steps offering good if by this point for me the relatively familiar view of a red gorge.

I was more impressed by the waterhole at the bottom, a small but reflective pool of water, which I caught at the right time early afternoon with the sun hitting the gorge behind to photographic effect.

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